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

Traditional Ballads

32. A Gest of Robyn Hode

The Eighth Fytte

‘Haste thou ony grene cloth,’ sayd our kynge,

‘That thou wylte sell nowe to me?’

‘Ye, for God,’ sayd Robyn,

‘Thyrty yerdes and thre.’

‘Robyn,’ sayd our kynge,

‘Now pray I the,

Sell me some of that cloth,

To me and my meynë.’

‘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 cole then,

A grene garment he dyde on,

And every knyght also, iwys,

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 when he did pay.

‘So God me helpë,’ 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 covered all the felde.

Than every man to other gan say,

‘I drede our kynge be slone;

Come Robyn Hode to the towne, i-wys

On lyve he lefte never one.’

Full hastely they began to fle,

Both yemen and knaves,

And olde wyves that myght evyll goo,

They hypped on theyr staves.

The kynge loughe full fast,

And commaunded theym agayne;

When they se our comly kynge,

I-wys they were full fayne.

They ete and dranke, and made them glad,

And sange with notës hye;

Than bespake our comly kynge

To Syr Richarde at the Lee.

He gave 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 kynges courte

But twelve monethes and thre,

That he had spent an hondred pounde,

And all his mennes fe.

In every place where Robyn came

Ever more he layde downe,

Both for knyghtës 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 Scathelocke,

With hym all for to gone.

Robyn sawe yonge men shote

Full faire upon 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 never in this seven nyght

No tyme to slepe ne wynke,

Nother all these seven dayes

Nother ete ne drynke.

‘Me longeth sore to Bernysdale,

I may not be therfro;

Barefote and wolwarde I have hyght

Thyder for to go.’

‘Yf it be so,’ than sayd our kynge,

‘It may no better be;

Seven nyght I gyve the leve,

No lengre, to dwell fro me.’

‘Gramercy, lorde,’ then sayd Robyn,

And set hym on his kne;

He toke his leve full courteysly,

To grene wode then went he.

Whan he came to grene wode,

In a mery mornynge,

There he herde the notës small

Of byrdës mery syngynge.

‘It is ferre gone,’ sayd Robyn,

‘That I was last here;

Me lyste a lytell for to shote

At the donnë 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.

Seven 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 mayster,

Under this grene-wode tre.’

Robyn dwelled in grene 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 Kyrkësly,

That nye was of hys kynne:

For the love of a knyght,

Syr Roger of Donkesly,

That was her ownë speciall;

Full evyll mote 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,

‘Tommorow I muste to Kyrke[s]ly,

Craftely to be leten blode.’

Syr Roger of Donkestere,

By the pryoresse he lay,

And there they betrayed good Robyn Hode,

Through theyr falsë playe.

Cryst have mercy on his soule,

That dyed on the rode!

For he was a good outlawe,

And dyde pore men moch god.