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   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
32. A Gest of Robyn Hode
 
The Sixth Fytte
 
Traditional Ballads
 
 
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,        5
  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,        10
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, 1
Upon all the landës that I have,        15
  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.’        20
 
The shyref thus had his answere,
  Without any lesynge; 2
Forth he yede 3 to London towne,
  All for to tel our kinge.
 
Ther he telde him of that knight,        25
  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;        30
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        35
  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.’        40
 
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        45
  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;        50
The proude shyref of Notyngham
  Thereof he had grete tene. 4
 
The shyref there fayled of Robyn Hode,
  He myght not have his pray;
Than he awayted 5 this gentyll knyght,        55
  Bothe by nyght and day.
 
Ever he wayted 6 the gentyll knyght,
  Syr Richarde at the Lee,
As he went on haukynge by the ryver-syde,
  And lete his haukës flee.        60
 
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,        65
  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;        70
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,        75
  And al his fayre menë. 7
 
‘God the save, gode Robyn,
  And all thy company;
For Our dere Ladyes sake,
  A bone graunte thou me.        80
 
‘Late never my wedded lorde
  Shamefully slayne be;
He is fast bound to Notinghamwarde,
  For the love of the.’
 
Anone than saide goode Robyn        85
  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        90
  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.        95
 
‘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,        100
  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;        105
And if I may him take,
  I-quyt 8 then shall he be.’
 
And when they came to Notingham,
  They walked in the strete;
And with the proude sherif i-wys        110
  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.        115
 
‘This seven yere, by dere worthy God,
  Ne yede 9 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,        120
  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,        125
He smote of the sherifs hede
  With his bright bronde.
 
‘Lye thou there, thou proude sherife;
  Evyll mote 10 thou thryve:
There myght no man to the truste        130
  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. 11        135
 
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,        140
  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,        145
Tyll that I have gete us grace
  Of Edwarde, our comly kynge.’
 
Note 1. Go. [back]
Note 2. Dwellest. [back]
Note 3. Quickly. [back]
Note 4. Did they go. [back]
Note 5. Prepared. [back]
Note 6. Prepared. [back]
Note 7. Falsehood. [back]
Note 8. Went. [back]
Note 9. Annoyance. [back]
Note 10. Lay in wait for. [back]
Note 11. Retinue. [back]
 

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