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English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

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32. A Gest of Robyn Hode

The Second Fytte

Now is the knight gone on his way;

This game hym thought full gode;

Whanne he loked on Bernesdale

He blessyd Robyn Hode.

And whanne he thought on Bernysdale,

On Scarlok, Much and Johnn,

He blessyd them for the best company

That ever he in come.

Than spake that gentyll knyght,

To Lytel Johan gan he saye,

‘To-morrowe I must to Yorke toune

To Saynt Mary abbay.

‘And to the abbot of that place

Foure hundred pounde I must pay;

And but I be there upon this nyght

My londe is lost for ay.’

The abbot sayd to his covent,

There he stode on grounde,

‘This day twelfe moneth came a knyght

And borowed foure hondred pounde.

[‘He borowed four hondred pounde]

Upon his londe and fee;

But he come this ylkë day

Disherited shall he be.’

‘It is full erely,’ sayd the pryoure,

The day is not yet ferre gone;

I had lever to pay an hondred pounde,

And lay it downe anone.

‘The knyght is ferre beyonde the see,

In Englonde is his ryght,

And suffreth honger and colde

And many a sory nyght.

‘It were grete pytë,’ said the pryoure,

‘So to have his londe;

And ye be so lyght of your consyence,

Ye do to hym moch wronge.’

‘Thou arte ever in my berde,’ sayd the abbot,

‘By God and Saynt Rycharde’;

With that cam in a fat-heded monke,

The heygh selerer.

‘He is dede or hanged,’ sayd the monke,

‘By God that bought me dere,

And we shall have to spende in this place

Foure hondred pounde by yere.’

The abbot and the hy selerer

Stertë forthe full bolde,

The highe justyce of Englonde

The abbot there dyde holde.

The hye justyce and many mo

Had taken into theyr honde

Holy all the knyghtes det,

To put that knyght to wronge.

They demed the knyght wonder sore,

The abbot and his meynë

‘But he come this ylkë day

Disherited shall he be.’

‘He wyll not come yet,’ sayd the justyce,

‘I dare well undertake’;

But in sorowe tymë for them all

The knyght came to the gate.

Than bespake that gentyll knyght

Untyll his meynë:

‘Now put on your symple wedes

That ye brought fro the see.’

[They put on their symple wedes,]

They came to the gates anone;

The porter was redy hymselfe

And welcomed them everychone.

‘Welcome, syr knyght,’ sayd the porter,

‘My lorde to mete is he,

And so is many a gentyll man,

For the love of the.’

The porter swore a full grete othe:

‘By God that madë me,

Here be the best coresed hors

That ever yet sawe I me.

‘Lede them in to the stable,’ he sayd,

‘That eased myght they be’;

‘They shall not come therin,’ sayd the knyght,

‘By God that dyed on a tre.’

Lordës were to mete isette

In that abbotes hall;

The knyght went forth and kneled downe,

And salued them grete and small.

‘Do gladly, syr abbot,’ sayd the knyght,

‘I am come to holde my day’:

The fyrst word that the abbot spake,

‘Hast thou brought my pay?’

‘Not one peny,’ sayd the knyght,

‘By God that maked me’;

‘Thou art a shrewed dettour,’ sayd the abbot;

‘Syr justyce, drynke to me.

‘What doost thou here,’ sayd the abbot,

‘But thou haddest brought thy pay?’

‘For God,’ than sayed the knyght,

‘To pray of a lenger daye.’

‘Thy daye is broke,’ sayd the justyce,

‘Londe gettest thou none’:

‘Now, good syr justyce, be my frende

And fende me of my fone!’

‘I am holde with the abbot,’ sayd the justyce,

‘Both with cloth and fee’:

‘Now, good syr sheryf, be my frende!’

‘Nay, for God,’ sayd he.

‘Now, good syr abbot, be my frende,

For thy curteysë,

And holde my londës in thy honde

Tyll I have made the gree!

‘And I wyll be thy true servaunte,

And trewely serve the,

Tyll ye have foure hondred pounde

Of money good and free.’

The abbot sware a full grete othe,

‘By God that dyed on a tree,

Get thy londe where thou may,

For thou getest none of me.’

‘By dere worthy God,’ then sayd the knyght,

‘That all this worldë wrought,

But I have my londe agayne,

Full dere it shall be bought.

‘God, that was of a mayden borne,

Leve us well to spede!

For it is good to assay a frende

Or that a man have nede.’

The abbot lothely on hym gan loke,

And vylaynesly hym gan call;

‘Out,’ he sayd, ‘thou false knyght,

Spede the out of my hall!’

‘Thou lyest,’ then sayd the gentyll knyght,

‘Abbot, in thy hal;

False knyght was I never,

By God that made us all.’

Up then stode that gentyll knyght,

To the abbot sayd he,

‘To suffre a knyght to knele so longe,

Thou canst no curteysye.

‘In joustes and in tournaments

Full ferre than have I be,

And put myself as ferre in prees

As ony that ever I see.’

‘What wyll ye gyve more,’ sayd the justyce,

‘And the knyght shall make a releyse?

And elles dare I safly swere

Ye holde never your londe in pees.’

‘An hondred pounde,’ sayd the abbot;

The justice sayd, ‘Gyve hym two’;

‘Nay, be God,’ sayd the knyght,

‘Ye get not my land so.

‘Though ye wolde gyve a thousand more,

Yet were ye never the nere;

Shal there never be myn heyre

Abbot, justice ne frere.’

He stert hym to a borde anone,

Tyll a table rounde,

And there he shoke oute of a bagge

Even four hundred pound.

‘Have here thi golde, sir abbot,’ saide the knight,

‘Which that thou lentest me;

Had thou ben curtes at my comynge,

I would have rewarded thee.’

The abbot sat styll, and ete no more,

For all his ryall fare;

He cast his hede on his shulder,

And fast began to stare.

‘Take me my golde agayne,’ saide the abbot,

‘Sir justice, that I toke the.’

‘Not a peni,’ said the justice,

‘Bi God, that dyed on tree.’

‘Sir abbot, and ye men of lawe,

Now have I holde my daye;

Now shall I have my londe agayne,

For ought that you can saye.’

The knyght stert out of the dore,

Awaye was all his care,

And on he put his good clothynge

The other he lefte there.

He wente hym forth full mery syngynge,

As men have told in tale;

His lady met hym at the gate,

At home in Verysdale.

‘Welcome, my lorde,’ sayd his lady;

‘Syr, lost is all your good?’

‘Be mery, dame,’ sayd the knyght,

‘And pray for Robyn Hode,

‘That ever his soule be in blysse:

He holpe me out of tene;

Ne had be his kyndënesse,

Beggers had we bene.

‘The abbot and I accorded ben,

He is served of his pay;

The god yoman lent it me

As I cam by the way.’

This knight than dwelled fayre at home,

The sothe for to saye,

Tyll he had got four hundred pound,

Al redy for to pay.

He purveyed him an hundred bowes,

The strynges well ydyght,

An hundred shefe of arowes gode,

The hedys burneshed full bryght;

And every arowe an ellë longe,

With pecok well idyght,

Inocked all with whyte silver;

It was a semely syght.

He purveyed him an hondreth men,

Well harnessed in that stede,

And hym selfe in that same suite,

And clothed in whyte and rede.

He bare a launsgay in his honde,

And a man ledde his male,

And reden with a lyght songe

Unto Bernysdale.

[But at Wentbrydge] there was a wrastelyng,

And there taryed was he,

And there was all the best yemen

Of all the west countree.

A full fayre game there was up set,

A whyte bulle up i-pyght,

A grete courser, with sadle and brydil,

With golde burnyssht full bryght.

A payre of gloves, a rede golde rynge,

A pype of wyne, in fay;

What man that bereth hym best i-wys

The pryce shall bere away.

There was a yoman in that place,

And best worthy was he,

And for he was ferre and frembde bested,

Slayne he shulde have be.

The knight had ruthe of this yoman,

In place where that he stode;

He sayde that yoman shulde have no harme,

For love of Robyn Hode.

The knyght pressed in to the place,

An hundreth folowed hym free,

With bowes bent and arowes sharpe,

For to shende that companye.

They shulderd all and made hym rome,

To wete what he wolde say;

He toke the yeman bi the hande,

And gave hym al the play.

He gave hym five marke for his wyne,

There it lay on the molde,

And bad it shulde be set a broche,

Drynkë who so wolde.

Thus longe taried this gentyll knyght,

Tyll that play was done;

So longe abode Robyn fastinge

Thre houres after the none.