Home  »  English Poetry I  »  32. A Gest of Robyn Hode

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

Traditional Ballads

32. A Gest of Robyn Hode

The Sixth Fytte

Lythe and lysten, gentylmen,

And herkyn to your songe;

Howe the proude shyref of Notyngham,

And men of armys stronge,

Full fast cam to the hye shyref,

The contrë up to route,

And they besette the knyghtes castell,

The wallës all aboute.

The proude shyref loude gan crye,

And sayde, ‘Thou traytour knight,

Thou kepest here the kynges enemys,

Agaynst the lawe and right.’

‘Sir, I wyll avow that I have done,

The dedys that here be dyght,

Upon all the landës that I have,

As I am a trewe knyght.

‘Wende furth, sirs, on your way,

And do no more to me

Tyll ye wyt oure kyngës wille,

What he wyll say to the.’

The shyref thus had his answere,

Without any lesynge;

Forth 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 avowe 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 wyde contrë.’

The shyref had his leve i-take,

And went hym on his way,

And Robyn Hode to grene wode,

Upon a certen day.

And Lytel John was hole of the arowe

That shot was in his kne,

And dyd hym streyght to Robyn Hode,

Under the grene wode tree.

Robyn Hode walked in the forest,

Under the levys grene;

The proude shyref of Notyngham

Thereof he had grete tene.

The shyref there fayled of Robyn Hode,

He myght not have his pray;

Than he awayted this gentyll knyght,

Bothe by nyght and day.

Ever he wayted the gentyll knyght,

Syr Richarde at the Lee,

As he went on haukynge by the ryver-syde,

And lete his haukës flee.

Toke he there this gentyll knight,

With men of armys stronge,

And led hym to Notynghamwarde,

Bound bothe fote and hande.

The shyref sware a full grete othe,

Bi him that dyed on rode,

He had lever than an hundred pound

That he had Robyn Hode.

This harde the knyghtës 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,

Under the grene wode tree,

Fonde she there Robyn Hode,

And al his fayre menë.

‘God the save, gode Robyn,

And all thy company;

For Our dere Ladyes sake,

A bone graunte thou me.

‘Late never my wedded lorde

Shamefully slayne be;

He is fast bound to Notinghamwarde,

For the love of the.’

Anone than saide goode Robyn

To that lady so fre,

‘What man hath your lorde ytake?’

‘The proude shirife,’ than sayd she.


‘For soth as I the say;

He is nat yet thre mylës

Passed on his way.’

Up 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 never in grene wode

No lenger dwel with me.’

Sone there were gode bowës bent,

Mo than seven score;

Hedge ne dyche spared they none

That was them before.

‘I make myn avowe to God,’ sayde Robyn

‘The sherif wolde I fayne see;

And if I may him take,

I-quyt then shall he be.’

And when they came to Notingham,

They walked in the strete;

And with the proude sherif i-wys

Sonë can they mete.

‘Abyde, thou proude sherif,’ he sayde,

‘Abyde, and speke with me;

Of some tidinges of oure kinge

I wolde fayne here of the.

‘This seven yere, by dere worthy God,

Ne yede I this fast on fote;

I make myn avowe to God, thou proude sherif,

It is not for thy gode.’

Robyn bent a full goode bowe,

An arrowe he drowe at wyll;

He hit so the proude sherife

Upon the grounde he lay full still.

And or he myght up aryse,

On his fete to stonde,

He smote of the sherifs hede

With his bright bronde.

‘Lye thou there, thou proude sherife;

Evyll mote thou thryve:

There myght no man to the truste

The whyles thou were a lyve.’

His men drewe out theyr bryght swerdes,

That were so sharpe and kene,

And layde on the sheryves men,

And dryved 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.

‘Leve thy hors the behynde,

And lerne for to renne;

Thou shalt with me to grene wode,

Through myre, mosse, and fenne.

‘Thou shalt with me to grene wode,

Without ony leasynge,

Tyll that I have gete us grace

Of Edwarde, our comly kynge.’