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Ballads Of Robin Hood

A Geste of Robyn Hode Fyttes 5-8


Fytte 5


Now hath the knyght his leue i-take,
And wente hym on his way;
Robyn Hode and his mery men
Dwelled styll full many a day.

Lyth and lysten, gentil men,
And herken what I shall say,
How the proud sheryfe of Notyngham
Dyde crye a full fayre play;

That all the best archers of the north
Sholde come vpon a day,
And he that shoteth allther best
The game shall bere a way.

He that shoteth allther best,
Furthest fayre and lowe,
At a payre of fynly buttes,
Under the gren-wode shawe,

A ryght good arowe he shall haue,
The shaft of syluer whyte,
The hede and the feders of ryche red golde,
In Englond is none lyke.

This than herde good Robyn,
Under his trystell-tre:
‘Make you redy, ye wyght yonge men;
That shotynge wyll I se.

‘Buske you, my mery yonge men,
Ye shall go with me;
And I wyll wete the shryu s fayth,
Trewe and yf he be.’

Whan they had theyr bowes i-bent,
Theyr takles fedred fre,
Seuen score of wyght yonge men
Stode by Robyns kne.

Whan they cam to Notyngham,
The buttes were fayre and longe;
Many was the bolde archere
That shoted with bow s stronge.

‘There shall but syx shote with me;
The other shal kepe my heuede,
And stand with good bow s bent,
That I be not desceyued.’

The fourth outlawe his bowe gan bende,
And that was Robyn Hode,
And that behelde the proud sheryfe,
All by the but as he stode.

Thry s Robyn shot about,
And alway he slist the wand,
And so dyde good Gylberte
Wyth the whyt hande.

Lytell Johan and good Scatheloke
Were archers good and fre;
Lytell Much and good Reynolde,
The worste wolde they not be.

Whan they had shot aboute,
These archours fayre and good,
Euermore was the best,
For soth, Robyn Hode.

Hym was delyuered the good arowe,
For best worthy was he;
He toke the yeft so curteysly,
To gren wode wolde he.

They cryed out on Robyn Hode,
And grete horn s gan they blowe:
‘Wo worth the, treason!’ sayd Robyn,
‘Full euyl thou art to knowe.

‘And wo be thou! thou proud sheryf,
Thus gladdynge thy gest;
Other wyse thou behot me
In yonder wylde forest.

‘But had I the in gren wode,
Under my trystell-tre,
Thou sholdest leue me a better wedde
Than thy trewe lewt.’

Full many a bow there was bent,
And arow s let they glyde;
Many a kyrtell there was rent,
And hurt many a syde.

The outlawes shot was so stronge
That no man myght them dryue,
And the proud sheryf s men,
They fled away full blyue.

Robyn sawe the busshement to-broke,
In gren wode he wolde haue be;
Many an arowe there was shot
Amonge that company.

Lytell Johan was hurte full sore,
With an arowe in his kne,
That he myght neyther go nor ryde;
It was full grete pyt.

‘Mayster,’ then sayd Lytell Johan,
‘If euer thou louedst me,
And for that ylk lord s loue
That dyed vpon a tre,

‘And for the medes of my seruyce,
That I haue serued the,
Lete neuer the proud sheryf
Alyue now fynd me.

‘But take out thy brown swerde,
And smyte all of my hede,
And gyue me wound s depe and wyde;
No lyfe on me be lefte.’

‘I wolde not that,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Johan, that thou were slawe,
For all the golde in mery Englonde,
Though it lay now on a rawe.’

‘God forbede,’ sayd Lytell Much,
‘That dyed on a tre,
That thou sholdest, Lytell Johan,
Parte our company.’

Up he toke hym on his backe,
And bare hym well a myle;
Many a tyme he layd hym downe,
And shot another whyle.

Then was there a fayre castell,
A lytell within the wode;
Double-dyched it was about,
And walled, by the rode.

And there dwelled that gentyll knyght,
Syr Rychard at the Lee,
That Robyn had lent his good,
Under the gren -wode tree.

In he toke good Robyn,
And all his company:
‘Welcome be thou, Robyn Hode,
Welcome arte thou to me;

‘And moche I thanke the of thy confort,
And of thy curteysye,
And of thy gret kynd nesse,
Under the gren wode tre.

‘I loue no man in all this worlde
So much as I do the;
For all the proud sheryf of Notyngham,
Ryght here shalt thou be.

‘Shyt the gates, and drawe the brydge,
And let no man come in,
And arme you well, and make you redy,
And to the walles ye wynne.

‘For one thynge, Robyn, I the behote;
Iswere by Saynt Quyntyne,
These forty dayes thou wonnest with me,
To soupe, ete, and dyne.’

Bordes were layde, and clothes were spredde,
Redely and anone;
Robyn Hode and his mery men
To met can they gone.


Fytte 6


Lythe and lysten, gentylmen,
And herkyn to your songe;
Howe the proud shyref of Notyngham,
And men of armys stronge,

Full fast cam to the hy shyref,
The contr vp to route,
And they besette the knyght s castell,
The wall s all aboute.

The proud shyref loude gan crye,
And sayde, Thou traytour knight,
Thou kepest here the kynges enemys,
Agaynst the lawe and right.

‘Syr, I wyll auowe that I haue done,
The dedys that here be dyght,
Vpon all the land s that I haue,
As I am a trew knyght.

‘Wende furth, sirs, on your way,
And do no more to me
Tyll ye wyt oure kyng s wille,
What he wyll say to the.’

The shyref thus had his answere,
Without any lesynge;
Furth he yede to London towne,
All for to tel our kinge.

Ther he telde him of that knight,
And eke of Robyn Hode,
And also of the bolde archars,
That were soo noble and gode.

‘He wyll auowe that he hath done,
To mayntene the outlawes stronge;
He wyll be lorde, and set you at nought,
In all the northe londe.’

‘I wil be at Notyngham,’ saide our kynge,
‘Within this fourteenyght,
And take I wyll Robyn Hode,
And so I wyll that knight.

‘Go nowe home, shyref,’ sayde our kynge,
‘And do as I byd the;
And ordeyn gode archers ynowe,
Of all the wyd contr.’

The shyref had his leue i-take,
And went hym on his way,
And Robyn Hode to gren wode,
Vpon a certen day.

And Lytel John was hole of the arowe
That shot was in his kne,
And dyd hym streyght to Robyn Hode,
Vnder the grene-wod tree.

Robyn Hode walked in the forest,
Vnder the leuys grene;
The proud shyref of Notyngham
Thereof he had grete tene.

The shyref there fayled of Robyn Hode,
He myght not haue his pray;
Than he awayted this gentyll knyght,
Bothe by nyght and day.

Euer he wayted the gentyll knyght,
Syr Richarde at the Lee,
As he went on haukynge by the ryuer-syde,
And let his hauk s flee.

Toke he there this gentyll knight,
With men of armys stronge,
And led hym to Notyngham warde,
Bounde bothe fote and hande.

The sheref sware a full grete othe,
Bi hym that dyed on rode,
He had leuer than an hundred pound
That he had Robyn Hode.

This harde the knyght s wyfe,
A fayr lady and a free;
She set hir on a gode palfrey,
To grene wode anone rode she.

Whanne she cam in the forest,
Vnder the gren-wode tree,
Fonde she there Robyn Hode,
And al his fayre men.

‘God the sau, god Robyn,
And all thy company;
For Our der Ladyes sake,
A bon graunte thou me.

‘Late neuer my wedded lorde
Shamefully slayne be;
He is fast bowne to Notingham warde,
For the loue of the.’

Anone than saide goode Robyn
To that lady so fre,
What man hath your lorde i-take?
. . . . . .

. . . . . .
‘For soth as I the say;
He is nat yet thre myl s
Passed on his way.’

Vp than sterte gode Robyn,
As man that had ben wode:
‘Buske you, my mery men,
For hym that dyed on rode.

‘And he that this sorowe forsaketh,
By hym that dyed on tre,
Shall he neuer in gren wode
No lenger dwel with me.’

Sone there were gode bow s bent,
Mo than seuen score;
Hedge ne dyche spared they none
That was them before.

‘I make myn auowe to God,’ sayde Robyn,
‘The sherif wolde I fayne see;
And if I may hym take,
I-quyte shall it be.’

And whan they came to Notingham,
They walked in the strete;
And with the proud sherif i-wys
Son can they mete.

‘Abyde, thou proud sherif,’ he sayde,
‘Abyde, and speke with me;
Of some tidinges of oure kinge
I wolde fayne here of the.

‘This seuen yere, by dere worthy God,
Ne yede I this fast on fote;
I make myn auowe to God, thou proud sherif,
It is nat for thy gode.’

Robyn bent a full goode bowe,
An arrowe he drowe at wyll;
He hit so the proud sherife
Vpon the grounde he lay full still.

And or he myght vp aryse,
On his fete to stonde,
He smote of the sherifs hede
With his bright bronde.

‘Lye thou there, thou proud sherife,
Euyll mote thou cheue!
There myght no man to the truste
The whyles thou were a lyue.’

His men drewe out theyr bryght swerdes,
That were so sharpe and kene,
And layde on the sheryues men,
And dryued them downe bydene.

Robyn stert to that knyght,
And cut a two his bonde,
And toke hym in his hand a bowe,
And bad hym by hym stonde.

‘Leue thy hors the behynde,
And lerne for to renne;
Thou shalt with me to gren wode,
Through myr, mosse, and fenne.

‘Thou shalt with me to gren wode,
Without ony leasynge,
Tyll that I haue gete vs grace
Of Edwarde, our comly kynge.’


Fytte 7


The kynge came to Notynghame,
With knyght s in grete araye,
For to take that gentyll knyght
And Robyn Hode, and yf he may.

He asked men of that countr
After Robyn Hode,
And after that gentyll knyght,
That was so bolde and stout.

Whan they had tolde hym the case
Our kynge vnderstode ther tale,
And seased in his honde
The knyght s lond s all.

All the passe of Lancasshyre
He went both ferre and nere,
Tyll he came to Plomton Parke;
He faylyd many of his dere.

There our kynge was wont to se
Herd s many one,
He coud vnneth fynde one dere,
That bare ony good horne.

The kynge was wonder wroth withall,
And swore by the Trynyt ,
‘I wolde I had Robyn Hode,
With eyen I myght hym se.

‘And he that wolde smyte of the knyght s hede,
And brynge it to me,
He shall haue the knyght s londes,
Syr Rycharde at the Le.

‘I gyue it hym with my charter,
And sele it with my honde,
To haue and holde for euer more,
In all mery Englonde.’

Than bespake a fayre olde knyght,
That was treue in his fay:
A, my leeg lorde the kynge,
One worde I shall you say.

There is no man in this countr
May haue the knyght s londes,
Whyle Robyn Hode may ryde of gone,
And bere a bowe in his hondes,

That he ne shall lese his hede,
That is the best ball in his hode:
Giue it no man, my lorde the kynge,
That ye wyll any good.

Half a yere dwelled our comly kynge
In Notyngham, and well more;
Coude he not here of Robyn Hode,
In what countr that he were.

But alway went good Robyn
By halke and eke by hyll,
And alway slewe the kyng s dere,
And welt them at his wyll.

Than bespake a proude fostere,
That stode by our kyng s kne;
Yf ye wyll se good Robyn,
Ye must do after me.

Take fyue of the best knyght s
That be in your lede,
And walke downe by yon abbay,
And gete you monk s wede.

And I wyll be your led s-man,
And lede you the way,
And or ye come to Notyngham,
Myn hede then dare I lay,

That ye shall mete with good Robyn,
On lyue yf that he be;
Or ye come to Notyngham,
With eyen ye shall hym se.

Full hastly our kynge was dyght,
So were his knyght s fyue,
Euerych of them in monk s wede,
And hasted them thyder blyve.

Our kynge was grete aboue his cole,
A brode hat on his crowne,
Ryght as he were abbot-lyke,
They rode up in-to the towne.

Styf bot s our kynge had on,
Forsoth as I you say;
He rode syngynge to gren wode,
The couent was clothed in graye.

His male-hors and his gret somers
Folowed our kynge behynde,
Tyll they came to gren wode,
A myle vnder the lynde.

There they met with good Robyn,
Stondynge on the waye,
And so dyde many a bolde archere,
For soth as I you say.

Robyn toke the kyng s hors,
Hast ly in that stede,
And sayd, Syr abbot, by your leue,
A whyle ye must abyde.

‘We be yemen of this foreste,
Vnder the gren-wode tre;
We lyue by our kyng s dere,
Other shyft haue not wee.

‘And ye haue chyrches and rent s both,
And gold full grete plent ;
Gyue vs some of your spendynge,
For saynt charyt .’

Than bespake our cumly kynge,
Anone than sayd he;
I brought no more to gren wode
But forty pounde with me.

I haue layne at Notyngham
This fourtynyght with our kynge,
And spent I haue full moche good,
On many a grete lordynge.

And I haue but forty pounde,
No more than haue I me;
But yf I had an hondred pounde,
I wolde vouch it safe on the.

Robyn toke the forty pounde,
And departed it in two partye;
Halfendell he gaue his mery men,
And bad them mery to be.

Full curteysly Robyn gan say;
Syr, haue this for your spendyng;
We shall mete another day;
‘Gramercy,’ than sayd our kynge.

‘But well the greteth Edwarde, our kynge,
And sent to the his seale,
And byddeth the com to Notyngham,
Both to mete and mele’

He toke out the brod targe,
And sone he lete hym se;
Robyn coud his courteysy,
And set hym on his kne.

‘I loue no man in all the worlde
So well as I do my kynge;
Welcome is my lord s seale;
And, monke, for thy tydynge,

‘Syr abbot, for thy tydynges,
To day thou shalt dyne with me,
For the loue of my kynge,
Under my trystell-tre.’

Forth he lad our comly kynge,
Full fayre by the honde;
Many a dere there was slayne,
And full fast dyghtande.

Robyn toke a full grete horne,
And loude he gan blowe;
Seuen score of wyght yonge men
Came redy on a rowe.

All they kneled on theyr kne,
Full fayre before Robyn:
The kynge sayd hym selfe vntyll,
And swore by Saynt Austyn,

‘Here is a wonder semely syght;
Me thynketh, by Godd s pyne,
His men are more at his byddynge
Then my men be at myn.’

Full hastly was theyr dyner idyght,
And therto gan they gone;
They serued our kynge with al theyr myght,
Both Robyn and Lytell Johan.

Anone before our kynge was set
The fatt venyson,
The good whyte brede, the good rede wyne,
And therto the fyne ale and browne.

‘Make good chere,’ said Robyn,
‘Abbot, for charyt ;
And for this ylk tydynge,
Blyssed mote thou be.

‘Now shalte thou se what lyfe we lede,
Or thou hens wende;
Than thou may enfourme our kynge,
Whan ye togyder lende.’

Up they stert all in hast,
Theyr bow s were smartly bent;
Our kynge was neuer so sore agast,
He wende to haue be shente.

Two yerd s there were vp set,
Thereto gan they gange;
By fyfty pase, our kynge sayd,
The merk s were to longe.

On euery syde a rose-garlonde,
They shot vnder the lyne:
‘Who so fayleth of the rose-garlonde,’ sayd Robyn,
‘His takyll he shall tyne,

‘And yelde it to his mayster,
Be it neuer so fyne;
For no man wyll I spare,
So drynke I ale or wyne:

‘And bere a buffet on his hede,
I-wys ryght all bare:’
And all that fell in Robyns lote,
He smote them wonder sare.

Twyse Robyn shot aboute,
And euer he cleued the wande,
And so dyde good Gylberte
With the Whyt Hande.

Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke,
For nothynge wolde they spare;
When they fayled of the garlonde,
Robyn smote them full sore.

At the last shot that Robyn shot,
For all his frend s fare,
Yet he fayled of the garlonde
Thre fyngers and mare.

Than bespake good Gylberte,
And thus he gan say;
‘Mayster,’ he sayd, ’your takyll is lost,
Stande forth and take your pay.’

‘If it be so,’ sayd Robyn,
‘That may no better be,
Syr abbot, I delyuer the myn arowe,
I pray the, syr, serue thou me.’

‘It falleth not for myn ordre,’ sayd our kynge,
‘Robyn, by thy leue,
For to smyte no good yeman,
For doute I sholde hym greue.’

‘Smyte on boldely,’ sayd Robyn,
‘I giue the larg leue:’
Anone our kynge, with that worde,
He folde vp his sleue,

And sych a buffet he gaue Robyn,
To grounde he yede full nere:
‘I make myn avowe to God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Thou arte a stalworthe frere.

‘There is pith in thyn arme,’ sayd Robyn,
‘I trowe thou canst well shete:’
Thus our kynge and Robyn Hode
Togeder gan they mete.

Robyn beheld our comly kynge
Wystly in the face,
So dyde Syr Rycharde at the Le,
And kneled downe in that place.

And so dyde all the wylde outlawes,
Whan they se them knele:
‘My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
Now I knowe you well.

‘Mercy then, Robyn,’ sayd our kynge,
‘Vnder your trystyll-tre,
Of thy goodnesse and thy grace,
For my men and me!’

‘Yes, for God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘And also God me saue,
I ask mersy, my lorde the kynge,
And for my men I craue.’

‘Yes, for God,’ than sayd our kynge,
‘And therto sent I me,
With that thou leue the gren wode,
And all thy company;

‘And come home, syr, to my courte,
And there dwell with me.’
‘I make myn avowe to God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘And ryght so shall it be.

‘I wyll come to your courte,
Your seruyse for to se,
And brynge with me of my men
Seuen score and thre.

‘But me lyk well your seruyse,
I wyll come agayne full soone,
And shote at the donn dere,
As I am wonte to done.’


Fytte 8


‘Haste thou ony gren cloth,’ sayd our kynge,
‘That thou wylte sell nowe to me?’
‘Ye, for God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Thyrty yerd s and thre.’

‘Robyn,’ sayd our kynge,
‘Now pray I the,
Sell me some of that cloth,
To me and my meyn.’

‘Yes, for God,’ then sayd Robyn,
‘Or elles I were a fole;
Another day ye wyll me clothe,
I trowe, ayenst the Yole.’

The kynge kest of his col then,
A grene garment he dyde on,
And euery knyght also, i-wys,
Another had full sone.

Whan they were clothed in Lyncolne grene,
They keste away theyr graye;
‘Now we shall to Notyngham,’
All thus our kynge gan say.

They bente theyr bowes, and forth they went,
Shotynge all in-fere,
Towarde the towne of Notyngham,
Outlawes as they were.

Our kynge and Robyn rode togyder,
For soth as I you say,
And they shote plucke-buffet,
As they went by the way.

And many a buffet our kynge wan
Of Robyn Hode that day,
And nothynge spared good Robyn
Our kynge in his pay.

‘So God me help,’ sayd our kynge,
‘Thy game is nought to lere;
I sholde not get a shote of the,
Though I shote all this yere.’

All the people of Notyngham
They stode and behelde;
They sawe nothynge but mantels of grene
That couered all the felde.

Than euery man to other gan say,
I drede our kynge be slone;
Com Robyn Hode to the towne, i-wys
On lyue he lefte neuer one.’

Full hastly they began to fle,
Both yemen and knaues,
And olde wyues that myght euyll goo,
They hypped on theyr staues.

The kynge loughe full fast,
And commaunded them agayne;
When they se our comly kynge,
I-wys they were full fayne.

They ete and dranke, and made them glad,
And sange with not s hye;
Than bespake our comly kynge
To Syr Rycharde at the Lee.

He gaue hym there his londe agayne,
A good man he bad hym be;
Robyn thanked our comly kynge,
And set hym on his kne.

Had robyn dwelled in the kyng s courte
But twelue monethes and thre,
That he had spent an hondred pounde,
And all his mennes fe.

In euery place where Robyn came
Euer more he layde downe,
Both for knyght s and for squyres,
To gete hym grete renowne.

By than the yere was all agone
He had no man but twayne,
Lytell Johan and good Scathlocke,
With hym all for to gone.

Robyn sawe yonge men shote
Full fayre vpon a day;
‘Alas!’ than sayd good Robyn,
‘My welthe is went away.

‘Somtyme I was an archere good,
A styffe and eke a stronge;
I was compted the best archere
That was in mery Englonde.

‘Alas!’ then sayd good Robyn,
‘Alas and well a woo!
Yf I dwele lenger with the kynge,
Sorowe wyll me sloo.’

Forth than went Robyn Hode
Tyll he came to our kynge:
‘My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
Graunte me myn askynge.

‘I made a chapell in Bernysdale,
That semely is to se,
It is of Mary Magdaleyne,
And thereto wolde I be.

‘I myght neuer in this seuen nyght
No tyme to slepe ne wynke,
Nother all these seuen dayes
Nother ete ne drynke.

‘Me longeth sore to Bernysdale,
I may not be therfro;
Barefote and wolwarde I haue hyght
Thyder for to go.’

‘Yf it be so,’ than sayd our kynge,
‘It may no better be,
Seuen nyght I gyue the leue,
No lengre, to dwell fro me.’

‘Gramercy, lorde,’ then sayd Robyn,
And set hym on his kne;
He toke his leu full courteysly.
To gren wode then went he.

Whan he came to gren wode,
In a mery mornynge,
There he herde the not s small
Of byrd s mery syngynge.

‘It is ferre gone,’ sayd Robyn,
‘That I was last here;
Me lyste a lytell for to shote
At the donn dere.’

Robyn slewe a full grete harte;
His horne than gan he blow,
That all the outlawes of that forest
That horne coud they knowe,

And gadred them togyder,
In a lytell throwe.
Seuen score of wyght yonge men
Came redy on a rowe,

And fayre dyde of theyr hodes,
And set them on theyr kne:
‘Welcome,’ they sayd, ’our der mayster,
Under this gren -wode tre.

Robyn dwelled in gren wode
Twenty yere and two;
For all drede of Edwarde our kynge,
Agayne wolde he not goo.

Yet he was begyled, i-wys,
Through a wycked woman,
The pryoresse of Kyrk sly,
That nye was of hys kynne:

For the loue of a knyght,
Syr Roger of Donkesly,
That was her own speciall;
Full euyll mot they the!

They toke togyder theyr counsell
Robyn Hode for to sle,
And how they myght best do that dede,
His banis for to be.

Than bespake good Robyn,
In place where as he stode,
‘To morow I muste to Kyrkesly,
Craftely to be leten blode.’

Syr Roger of Donkestere,
By the pryoresse he lay,
And there they betrayed good Robyn Hode,
Through theyr fals playe.

Cryst haue mercy on his soule,
That dyed on the rode!
For he was a good outlawe,
And dyde pore men moch god.