A Geste of Robyn Hode


The First Fytte

Lythe and listin, gentilmen,
That be of frebore blode;
I shall you tel of a gode yeman,
His name was Robyn Hode.


Robyn was a prude outlaw,
Whyles he walked on grounde:
So curteyse an outlawe as he was one
Was nevere non founde.

Robyn stode in Bernesdale,
And lenyd hym to a tre,
And bi hym stode Litell Johnn,
A gode yeman was he.

And alsoo dyd gode Scarlok,
And Much, the millers son:
There was none ynch of his bodi
But it was worth a grome.

Than bespake Lytell Johnn
All untoo Robyn Hode:
“Maister, and ye wolde dyne betyme
It wolde doo you moche gode.”

Than bespake hym gode Robyn:
“To dyne have I noo lust,
Till that I have som bolde baron,
Or som unkouth gest.


“Here shal come a lord or sire
That may pay for the best,
Or som knyght or squyer,
That dwelleth here bi west.”

A gode maner than had Robyn;
In londe where that he were,
Every day or he wold dyne
Thre messis wolde he here.

The one in the worship of the Fader,
And another of the Holy Gost,
The thirde of Our dere Lady,
That he loved allther moste.

Robyn loved Oure dere Lady:
For dout of dydly synne,
Wolde he never do compani harme
That any woman was in.


“Maistar,” than sayde Lytil Johnn,
“And we our borde shal sprede,
Tell us wheder that we shal go,
And what life that we shall lede.

“Where we shall take, where we shall leve,
Where we shall abide behynde;
Where we shall robbe, where we shal reve,
Where we shall bete and bynde.”

“Therof no force,” than sayde Robyn;
“We shall do well inowe;
But loke ye do no husbonde harme,
That tilleth with his ploughe.

“No more ye shall no gode yeman
That walketh by grene wode shawe,
Ne no knyght ne no squyer
That wol be a gode felawe.

“These bisshoppes and these archebishoppes,
Ye shall them bete and bynde;
The hye sherif of Notyingham,
Hym holde ye in your mynde.”


“This worde shalbe holde,” sayde Lytell Johnn,
“And this lesson we shall lere;
It is fer dayes, God sende us a gest,
That we were at oure dynere!”

“Take thy gode bowe in thy honde,” sayde Robyn;
“Late Much wende with the:
And so shal Willyam Scarlok,
And no man abyde with me.

“And walke up to the Saylis,
And so to Watlinge Strete,
And wayte after some unkuth gest,
Up chaunce ye may them mete.

“Be he erle, or ani baron,
Abbot, or ani knyght,
Bringhe hym to lodge to me;
His dyner shall be dight.”

They wente up to the Saylis,
These yeman all thre;
They loked est, they loke weest;
They myght no man see.

But as they loked in to Bernysdale,
Bi a derne strete,
Than came a knyght ridinghe,
Full sone they gan hym mete.

All dreri was his semblaunce,
And lytell was his pryde;
His one fote in the styrop stode,
That othere wavyd beside.

His hode hanged in his iyn two;
He rode in symple aray,
A soriar man than he was one
Rode never in somer day.

Litell Johnn was full curteyes,
And sette hym on his kne:
“Welcom be ye, gentyll knyght,
Welcom ar ye to me.

“Welcom be thou to grene wode,
Hende knyght and fre;
My maister hath abiden you fastinge,
Syr, al these oures thre.”

“Who is thy maister?” sayde the knyght;
Johnn sayde, “Robyn Hode.”
“He is gode yoman,” sayde the knyght,
“Of hym I have herde moche gode.

“I graunte,” he sayde, “with you to wende,
My bretherne, all in fere;
My purpos was to have dyned to day
At Blith or Dancastere.”

Furth than went this gentyl knight,
With a carefull chere;
The teris oute of his iyen ran,
And fell downe by his lere.

They brought hym to the lodge door,
Whan Robyn hym gan see,
Full curtesly dyd of his hode
And sette hym on his knee.

“Welcome, sir knight,” than sayde Robyn,
“Welcome art thou to me;
I have abyden you fastinge, sir,
All these ouris thre.”

Than answered the gentyll knight,
With wordes fayre and fre:
“God the save, goode Robyn,
And all thy fayre meyné.”

They wasshed togeder and wyped bothe,
And sette to theyr dynere;
Brede and wyne they had right ynoughe,
And noumbles of the dere.

Swannes and fessauntes they had full gode,
And foules of the ryvere;
There fayled none so litell a birde
That ever was bred on bryre.

“Do gladly, sir knight,” sayde Robyn;
“Gramarcy, sir,” sayde he,
“Such a dinere had I nat
Of all these wekys thre.

“If I come ageyne, Robyn,
Here by thys contré,
As gode a dyner I shall the make
As that thou haest made to me.”

“Gramarcy, knyght,” sayde Robyn,
“My dyner whan that I it have;
I was never so gredy, bi dere worthy God,
My dyner for to crave.

“But pay or ye wende,” sayde Robyn;
“Me thynketh it is gode ryght;
It was never the maner, by dere worthi God,
A yoman to pay for a knyght.”

“I have nought in my coffers,” saide the knyght,
“That I may profer for shame.”
“Litell Johnn, go loke,” sayde Robyn,
“Ne let nat for no blame.

“Tel me truth,” than saide Robyn,
“So God have parte of the.”
“I have no more but ten shelynges,” sayde the knyght,
“So God have part of me.”

“If thou hast no more,” sayde Robyn,
“I woll nat one peny,
And yf thou have nede of any more,
More shall I lend the.

“Go nowe furth, Littell Johnn,
The truth tell thou me:
If there be no more but ten shelinges,
No peny that I se.”

Lyttell Johnn sprede downe hys mantell
Full fayre upon the grounde,
And there he fonde in the knyghtes cofer
But even halfe pounde.

Littell Johnn let it lye full styll,
And went to hys maysteer lowe;
“What tidynges Johnn?” sayde Robyn;
“Sir, the knyght is true inowe.”

“Fyll of the best wine,” sayde Robyn,
“The knyght shall begynne;
Moche wonder thinketh me
Thy clothynge is so thin.

“Tell me one worde,” sayde Robyn,
“And counsel shal it be:
I trowe thou warte made a knyght of force,
Or ellys of yemanry.

“Or ellys thou hast bene a sori husbande,
And lyved in stroke and stryfe,
An okerer or ellis a lechoure,” sayde Robyn,
“Wyth wronge hast led thy lyfe.”

“I am none of those,” sayde the knyght,
“By God that made me;
An hundred wynter here before
Myn auncetres knyghtes have be.

“But oft it hath befal, Robyn,
A man hath be disgrate,
But God that sitteth in heven above
May amende his state.

“Withyn this two yere, Robyne,” he sayde,
“My neghbours well it wende,
Foure hundred pounde of gode money
Ful well than myght I spende.

“Nowe have I no gode,” saide the knyght,
“God hath shaped such an ende,
But my chyldren and my wyfe,
Tyll God yt may amende.”

“In what maner,” than sayde Robyn,
“Hast thou lorne thy rychesse?”
“For my greate foly,” he sayde,
“And for my kyndnesse.

“I hade a sone, forsoth, Robyn,
That shulde have ben myn ayre,
Whanne he was twenty wynter olde,
In felde wolde just full fayre.

“He slewe a knyght of Lancaster,
And a squyer bolde;
For to save hym in his ryght
My godes beth sette and solde.

“My londes beth sette to wedde, Robyn,
Untyll a certayn day,
To a ryche abbot here besyde
Of Seynt Mari Abbey.”

“What is the som?” sayde Robyn;
“Trouth than tell thou me.”
“Sir,” he sayde, “foure hundred pounde;
The abbot told it to me.”

“Nowe and thou lese thy lond,” sayde Robyn,
“What woll fall of the?”
“Hastely I wol me buske,” sayde the knyght,
“Over the salte see,

“And se where Criste was quyke and dede,
On the mount of Calveré;
Fare wel, frende, and have gode day;
It may no better be.”

Teris fell out of hys iyen two;
He wolde have gone hys way.
“Farewel, frende, and have gode day;
I ne have no more to pay.”

“Where be thy frendes?” sayde Robyn.
“Syr, never one wol me knowe:
While I was ryche ynowe at home
Great boste than wolde they blowe.

“And nowe they renne away fro me,
As bestis on a rowe;
They take no more hede of me
Thanne they had me never sawe.”

For ruthe thanne wept Litell Johnn,
Scarlok and Muche in fere;
“Fyl of the best wyne,” sayde Robyn,
“For here is a symple chere.

“Hast thou any frende,” sayde Robyn,
“Thy borowe that wolde be?”
“I have none,” than sayde the knyght,
“But God that dyed on tree.”

“Do away thy japis,” than sayde Robyn,
“Thereof wol I right none;
Wenest thou I wolde have God to borowe,
Peter, Poule, or Johnn?

“Nay, by Hym that me made,
And shope both sonne and mone,
Fynde me a better borowe,” sayde Robyn,
“Or money getest thou none.”

“I have none other,” sayde the knyght,
“The sothe for to say,
But yf yt be Our dere Lady;
She fayled me never or thys day.”

“By dere worthy God,” sayde Robyn,
“To seche all Englonde thorowe,
Yet fonde I never to my pay
A moche better borowe.

“Come nowe furth, Litell Johnn.
And go to my tresouré,
And bringe me foure hundered pound,
And loke well tolde it be.”

Furth than went Litell Johnn,
And Scarlok went before;
He tolde oute foure hundred pounde
By eightene and two score.

“Is thys well tolde?” sayde litell Much;
Johnn sayde, “What greveth the?
It is almus to helpe a gentyll knyght,
That is fal in poverté.

“Master,” than sayde Lityll John,
“His clothinge is full thynne;
Ye must gyve the knight a lyveray,
To lappe his body therin.

“For ye have scarlet and grene, mayster,
And many a riche aray;
Ther is no marchaunt in mery Englond
So ryche, I dare well say.”

“Take hym thre yerdes of every colour,
And loke well mete that it be.”
Lytell Johnn toke none other mesure
But his bowe-tree.

And at every handfull that he met
He leped footes three.
“What devylles drapar,” sayid litell Muche,
“Thynkest thou for to be?”

Scarlok stode full stil and loughe,
And sayd, “By God Almyght,
Johnn may gyve hym gode mesure,
For it costeth hym but lyght.”

“Mayster,” than said Litell Johnn
To gentill Robyn Hode,
“Ye must give the knight a hors,
To lede home this gode.”

“Take hym a gray coursar,” sayde Robyn,
“And a saydle newe;
He is Oure Ladye’s messangere;
God graunt that he be true.”

“And a gode palfray,” sayde lytell Much,
“To mayntene hym in his right.”
“And a peyre of botes,” sayde Scarlock,
“For he is a gentyll knight.”

“What shalt thou gyve hym, Litell John?” said Robyn;
“Sir, a peyre of gilt sporis clene,
To pray, for all this company,
God bringe hym oute of tene.”

“Whan shal mi day be,” said the knight,
“Sir, and your wyll be?”
“This day twelve moneth,” saide Robyn,
“Under this grene-wode tre.

“It were greate shame,” sayde Robyn,
“A knight alone to ryde,
Withoute squyre, yoman, or page,
To walke by his syde.

“I shall the lende Litell John, my man,
For he shalbe thy knave;
In a yemans stede he may the stande,
If thou greate nede have.”

The Seconde 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 blyssyd them for the best company
That ever he in come.

Then 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 hondred 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 there a knyght
And borrowed foure hondred pounde.

“He borrowed foure hondred pounde,
Upon all his londe fre;
But he come this ylke day
Dysheryte 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 downe anone.

“The knyght is ferre beyonde the see,
In Englonde ryght,
And suffreth honger and colde,
And many a sory nyght.

“It were grete pyté,” 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 Rychere.”
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
Sterte forthe full bolde,
The justyce of Englonde
The abbot there dyde holde.

The hye justyce and many mo
Had take in to theyr honde
Holy all the knyghtes det,
To put that knyght to wronge.

They demed the knyght wonder sore,
The abbot and his meyné:
“But he come this ylke day
Dysheryte shall he be.”

“He wyll not come yet,” sayd the justyce,
“I dare well undertake.”
But in sorowe tyme for them all
The knyght came to the gate.

Than bespake that gentyll knyght
Untyll his meyné:
“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 made me,
Here be the best coressed 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.”

Lordes 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 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 sayd the knyght,
“To pray of a lenger daye.”

“Thy daye is broke,” sayd the justyce,
“Londe getest 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 curteysé,
And holde my londes in thy honde
Tyll I have made the gree!

“And I wyll be thy true servaunte,
And trewely serve the,
Tyl 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 the londe where thou may,
For thou getest none of me.”

“By dere worthy God,” then sayd the knyght,
“That all this worlde 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 need.”

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 hall;
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 tournement
Full ferre than have I be,
And put my selfe as ferre in press
As ony that ever I se.”

“What wyll ye gyve more,” sayd the justice,
“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,
“Yit gete ye it not so.”

“Though ye wolde gyve a thousand more,
Yet were ye never the nere;
Shall there never be myn heyre
Abbot, justice, ne frere.”

He stert hym to a borde anone,
Tyll a table rounde,
And there 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,
Rewarded shuldest thou have be.”

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 tolde 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 kyndenesse,
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 gete 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 elle longe,
With pecok wel idyght,
Inocked all with whyte silver;
It was a semely syght.

He purveyed hym an hundreth men,
Well harnessed in that stede.
And hym selfe in that same sete,
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 Bernsydale.

But at Wentbrydge ther 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 he stode;
He sayde that yoman shulde have no harme,
For love of Robyn Hode.

The knyght presed in to the place,
An hundreth folowed hym in fere,
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 fyve marke for his wyne,
There it lay on the molde,
And bad it shulde be set a broche,
Drynke who so wolde.

Thus longe taried this gentyll knyght,
Tyll that play was done;
So longe abode Robyn fastinge,
Thre houres after the none.

The Thirde Fytte

Lyth and lystyn, gentilmen,
All that nowe be here,
Of Litell Johnn, that was the knightes man,
Goode myrth ye shall here.

It was upon a mery day
That yonge men wolde go shete,
Lytell Johnn fet his bowe anone,
And sayde he wolde them mete.

Thre tymes Litell Johnn shet aboute,
And alwey he slet the wande:
The proude sherif of Notingham
By the markes can stande.

The sherif swore a full greate othe:
“By Hym that dyede on a tre,
This man is the best arschere
That ever yet sawe I me.

“Say me nowe, wight yonge man,
What is nowe thy name?
In what countré were thou borne,
And where is thy wonynge wane?”

“In Holdernes, sir, I was borne,
Iwys al of my dame;
Men cal me Reynolde Grenelef
Whan I am at hame.”

“Sey me, Reynolde Grenelefe,
Wolde thou dwell with me?
And every yere I woll the gyve
Twenty marke to thy fee.”

“I have a maister,” sayde Litell Johnn,
“A curteys knight is he;
May ye leve gete of hym,
The better may it be.”

The sherif gate Litell John
Twelve monethes of the knight;
Therefore he gave him right anone
A gode hors and a wight.

Nowe is Litell John the sherifes man
God lende us well to spede!
But alwey thought Lytell John
To quyte hym wele his mede.

“Nowe so God me helpe,” sayde Litell John,
“And by my true leutye,
I shall be the worst servaunt to hym
That ever yet had he.”

It fell upon a Wednesday
The sherif on huntynge was gone,
And Litel John lay in his bed,
And was foriete at home.

Therefore he was fastinge
Til it was past the none.
“God sir stuarde, I pray to the,
Gyve me my dynere,” saide Litell John.

“It is longe for Grenelefe
Fastinge thus for to be;
Therfor I pray the, sir stuarde,
Mi dyner gif thou me.”

“Shalt thou never ete ne drynke,” saide the stuarde,
“Tyll my lorde be come to towne.”
“I make myn avowe to God,” saide Litell John,
“I had lever to crake thy crowne.”

The boteler was full uncurteys,
There he stode on flore;
He start to the botery
And shet fast the dore.

Lytell Johnn gave the boteler suche a tap
His backe were nere in two;
Though he lived an hundred ier,
The wors shuld he go.

He sporned the dore with his fote,
It went open wel and fyne,
And there he made large lyveray,
Bothe of ale and of wyne.

“Sith ye wol nat dyne,” sayde Litell John,
“I shall gyve you to drinke,
And though ye lyve an hundred wynter,
On Lytel Johnn ye shall thinke.”

Litell John ete, and Litel John drank,
The while that he wolde;
The sherife had in his kechyn a coke,
A stoute man and a bolde.

“I make myn avowe to God,” saide the coke,
“Thou arte a shrewde hynde
In ani hous for to dwel,
For to aske thus to dyne.”

And there he lent Litell John
God strokis thre;
“I make myn avowe to God,” sayde Lytell John,
“These strokis lyked well me.

“Thou arte a bolde man and hardy,
And so thinketh me;
And or I pas fro this place
Assayed better shalt thou be.”

Lytell Johnn drew a ful gode sworde,
The coke toke another in hande;
They thought no thynge for to fle,
But stifly for to stande.

There they faught sore togedere
Two myle way and well more;
Myght neyther other harme done,
The mountnaunce of an owre.

“I make myn avowe to God,” sayde Litell Johnn,
“And by my true lewté,
Thou art one of the best swordemen
That ever yit sawe I me.

“Cowdest thou shote as well in a bowe,
To grene wode thou shuldest with me,
And two times in the yere thy clothinge
Chaunged shulde be,

“And every yere of Robyn Hode
Twenty merke to thy fe.”
“Put up thy swerde,” saide the coke,
“And felowes woll we be.”

Thanne he fet to Lytell Johnn,
The nowmbles of a do,
Gode brede, and full gode wyne;
They ete and drank theretoo.

And when they had dronkyn well,
Theyre trouthes togeder they plight,
That they wolde be with Robyn
That ylke same nyght.

They dyd them to the tresoure hows,
As fast as they myght gone;
The lokkes, that were of full gode stele,
They brake them everichone.

They toke away the silver vessell,
And all that thei might get;
Pecis, masars, ne sponis,
Wolde thei not forget.

Also they toke the gode pens,
Three hundred pounde and more,
And did them streyte to Robyn Hode,
Under the grene wode hore.

“God the save, my dere mayster,
And Criste the save and se!”
And thanne sayde Robyn to Litell Johnn,
“Welcome myght thou be.”

“Also be that fayre yeman
Thou bryngest there with the;
What tydynges fro Notyngham?
Lytill Johnn, tell thou me.”

“Well the gretith the proude sheryf,
And sende the here by me
His coke and his silver vessell,
And thre hundred pounde and thre.”

“I make myne avowe to God,” sayde Robyn,
“And to the Trenyté,
It was never by his gode wyll
This gode is come to me.”

Lytyll Johnn there hym bethought
On a shrewde wyle;
Fyve myle in the forest he ran;
Hym happed all his wyll.

Than he met the proude sheref,
Huntynge with houndes and horne;
Lytell Johnn coude of curtesye,
And knelyd hym beforne.

“God the save, my dere mayster,
And Criste the save and se!”
“Reynolde Grenelefe,” sayde the shyref,
“Where hast thou nowe be?”

“I have be in this forest;
A fayre syght can I se;
It was one of the fayrest syghtes
That ever yet sawe I me.

“Yonder I sawe a ryght fayre harte,
His coloure is of grene;
Seven score of dere upon a herde
Be with hym all bydene.

“Their tyndes are so sharpe, maister,
Of sexty, and well mo,
That I durst not shote for drede,
Lest they wolde me slo.”

“I make myn avowe to God,” sayde the shyref,
“That syght wolde I fayne se.”
“Buske you thyderwarde, mi dere mayster,
Anone, and wende with me.”

The sherif rode, and Litell Johnn
Of fote he was full smerte,
And whane they came before Robyn,
“Lo, sir, here is the mayster-herte.”

Still stode the proude sherief,
A sory man was he;
“Wo the worthe, Raynolde Grenelefe,
Thou hast betrayed nowe me.”

“I make myn avowe to God,” sayde Litell Johnn,
“Mayster, ye be to blame;
I was mysserved of my dynere
Whan I was with you at home.”

Sone he was to souper sette,
And served well with silver white,
And whan the sherif sawe his vessell,
For sorowe he myght nat ete.

“Make glad chere,” sayde Robyn Hode,
“Sherif, for charité,
And for the love of Litill Johnn
Thy lyfe I graunt to the.”

Whan they had souped well,
The day was al gone;
Robyn commaunded Litell Johnn
To drawe of his hosen and his shone,

His kirtell, and his cote of pie,
That was fured well and fine,
And toke hym a grene mantel,
To lap his body therin.

Robyn commaundyd his wight yonge men,
Under the grene wode tree,
They shulde lye in that same sute,
That the sherif myght them see.

All nyght lay the proude sherif
In his breche and in his schert;
No wonder it was, in grene wode,
Though his sydes gan to smerte.

“Make glade chere,” sayde Robyn Hode,
“Sheref, for charité,
For this is our ordre iwys,
Under the grene wode tree.”

“This is harder order,” sayde the sherief,
“Than any ankir or frere;
For all the golde in mery Englonde
I wolde nat longe dwell her.”

“All this twelve monthes,” sayde Robyn,
“Thou shalt dwell with me;
I shall the teche, proude sherif,
An outlawe for to be.”

“Or I be here another nyght,” sayde the sherif,
“Robyn, nowe pray I the,
Smythe of mijn hede rather to-morowe,
And I forgyve it the.

“Lat me go,” than sayde the sherif,
“For saynte charité,
And I woll be thy best frende
That ever yet had ye.”

“Thou shalt swere me an othe,” sayde Robyn,
“On my bright bronde:
Shalt thou never awayte me scathe,
By water ne by lande.”

“And if thou fynde any of my men,
By nyght or day,
Upon thyn othe thou shalt swere
To helpe them that thou may.”

Now hathe the sherif sworne his othe,
And home he began to gone;
He was as full of grene wode
As ever was hepe of stone.

The Fourth Fytte

The sherif dwelled in

He was fayne he was agone,
And Robyn and his mery men
Went to wode anone.

“Go we to dyner,” sayde

Littell Johnn,
Robyn Hode sayde, “Nay,
For I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
For she sent me nat my pay.”

“Have no doute, maister,”

sayde Litell Johnn,
“Yet is nat the sonne at rest;
For I dare say, and savely swere,
The knight is true and truste.”

“Take thy bowe in thy hande,” sayde Robyn,
“Late Much wende with the,
And so shal Wyllyam Scarlok,
And no man abyde with me.

“And walke up under the Sayles,
And to Watlynge-strete,
And wayte after such unketh gest;
Up-chaunce ye may them mete.

“Whether he be messengere,
Or a man that myrthes can,
Of my good he shall have some,
Yf he be a pore man.”

Forth then stert Lytel Johan,
Half in tray and tene,
And gyrde hym with a full good swerde,
Under a mantel of grene.

They went up to the Sayles,
These yemen all thre;
They loked est, they loked west,
They myght no man se.

But as they loked in Bernysdale,
By the hye waye,
Than were they ware of two blacke monkes,
Eche on a good palferay.

Then bespake Lytell Johan,
To Much he gan say,
“I dare lay my lyfe to wedde,
The monkes have brought our pay.

“Make glad chere,” sayd Lytell Johan,
“And drese our bowes of ewe,
And loke your hertes be seker and sad,
Your strynges trusty and trewe.

“The monke hath two and fifty
And seven somers full stronge;
There rydeth no bysshop in this londe
So ryally, I understond.

“Brethern,” sayd Lytell Johan,
“Here are no more but we thre;
But we brynge them to dyner,
Our mayster dare we not se.

“Bende your bowes,” sayd Lytell Johan,
“Make all yon prese to stonde;
The formost monke, his lyfe and his deth,
Is closed in my honde.

“Abyde, chorle monke,” sayd Lytell Johan,
“No ferther that thou gone;
Yf thou doost, by dere worthy God,
Thy deth is in my honde.

“And evyll thryfte on thy hede,” sayd Litell Johan,
“Ryght under thy hattes bonde,
For thou hast made our mayster wroth,
He is fastynge so longe.”

“Who is your mayster?” sayd the monke;
Lytell Johan sayd, “Robyn Hode.”
“He is a stronge thefe,” sayd the monke,
“Of hym herd I never good.”

“Thou lyest,” than sayd Lytell Johan,
“And that shall rewe the;
He is a yeman of the forest,
To dyne he hath bode the.”

Much was redy with a bolte,
Redly and anone;
He set the monke to-fore the brest,
To the grounde that he can gone.

Of two and fyfty wyght yonge yemen
There abode not one,
Saf a lytell page and a grome,
To lede the somers with Lytel Johan.

They brought the monke to the lodge dore,
Whether he were loth or lefe,
For to speke with Robyn Hode,
Maugré in theyr tethe.

Robyn dyde adowne his hode,
The monke whan that he se;
The monke was not so curteyse,
His hode then let he be.

“He is a chorle, mayster, by dere worthy God,”
Than sayd Lytell Johan.
“Thereof no force,” sayd Robyn,
“For curteysy can he none.

“How many men,” sayd Robyn,
“Had this monke, Johan?”
“Fyfty and two whan that we met,
But many of them be gone.”

“Let blowe a horne,” sayd Robyn,
“That felaushyp may us knowe.”
Seven score of wyght yemen
Came pryckynge on a rowe.

And everych of them a good mantell
Of scarlet and of raye,
All they came to good Robyn,
To wyte what he wolde say.

They made the monke to wasshe and wype,
And syt at his denere,
Robyn Hode and Lytell Johan
They served him both in fere.

“Do gladly, monke,” sayd Robyn.
“Gramercy, syr,” sayd he.
“Where is your abbay, whan ye are at home,
And who is your avowé?”

“Saynt Mary abbay,” sayd the monke,
“Though I be symple here.”
“In what offyce?” sayd Robyn,
“Syr, the hye selerer.”

“Ye be the more welcome,” sayd Robyn,
“So ever mote I the.
Fyll of the best wyne,” sayd Robyn,
“This monke shall drynke to me.

“But I have grete mervayle,” sayd Robyn,
“Of all this longe day,
I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
She sent me not my pay.”

“Have no doute, mayster,” sayd Lytell Johan,
“Ye have no nede, I saye;
This monke it hath brought, I dare well swere,
For he is of her abbay.”

“And she was a borowe,” sayd Robyn,
“Betwene a knyght and me,
Of a lytell money that I hym lent,
Under the grene wode tree.

“And yf thou hast that sylver i-brought,
I pray the let me se,
And I shall helpe the eftsones,
Yf thou have nede to me.”

The monke swore a full grete othe,
With a sory chere,
“Of the borowehode thou spekest to me,
Herde I never ere.”

“I make myn avowe to God,” sayd Robyn,
“Monke, thou art to blame,
For God is holde a ryghtwys man,
And so is His dame.

“Thou toldest with thyn owne tonge,
Thou may not say nay,
How thou arte her servaunt,
And servest her every day.

“And thou art made her messengere,
My money for to pay;
Therfore I cun the more thanke
Thou arte come at thy day.

“What is in your cofers?” sayd Robyn,
“Trewe than tell thou me.”
“Syr,” he sayd, “twenty marke,
Al so mote I the.”

“Yf there be no more,” sayd Robyn,
“I wyll not one peny;
Yf thou hast myster of ony more,
Syr, more I shall lende to the.

“And yf I fynde more,” sayd Robyn,
“Iwys thou shalte it for gone,
For of thy spendynge sylver, monke,
Thereof wyll I ryght none.

“Go nowe forthe, Lytell Johan,
And the trouth tell thou me;
If there be no more but twenty marke,
No peny that I se.”

Lytell Johan spred his mantell downe,
As he had done before,
And he tolde out of the monkes male
Eyght hundred pounde and more.

Lytell Johan let it lye full styll,
And went to his mayster in hast.
“Syr,” he sayd, “the monke is trewe ynowe,
Out Lady hath doubled your cast.”

“I make myn avowe to God,” sayd Robyn,
“Monke, what tolde I the?
Our Lady is the trewest woman
That ever yet founde I me.

“By dere worthy God,” sayd Robyn,
“To seche all Englond thorowe,
Yet founde I never to my pay
A moche better borowe.

“Fyll of the best wyne, and do hym drynke,” sayd Robyn,
“And grete well thy lady hende,
And yf she have nede to Robyn Hode,
A frende she shall hym fynde.

“And yf she nedeth ony more sylver,
Come thou agayne to me,
And, by this token she hath me sent,
She shall have such thre.”

The monke was goynge to London-ward,
There to holde grete mote,
The knyght that rode so hye on hors,
To brynge hym under fote.

“Whether be ye away?” sayd Robyn.
“Syr, to maners in this londe,
Too reken with our reves,
That have done moch wronge.

“Come now forth, Lytell Johan,
And harken to my tale;
A better yeman I knowe none,
To seke a monkes male.

“How moch is in yonder other corser?” sayd Robyn,
“The soth must we see.”
“By Our Lady,” than sayd the monke,
“That were no curteysye,

“To bydde a man to dyner,
And syth hym bete and bynde.”
“It is our olde maner,” sayd Robyn,
“To leve but lytell behynde.”

The monke toke the hors with spore,
No lenger wolde he abyde:
“Aske to drynke,” than sayd Robyn,
“Or that ye forther ryde.”

“Nay, for God,” than sayd the monke,
“Me reweth I cam so nere;
For better chepe I myght have dyned
In Blythe or in Dankestere.”

“Grete well your abbot,” sayd Robyn,
“And your pryour, I you pray,
And byd hym send me such a monke
To dyner every day.”

Now lete we that monke be styll,
And speke we of that knyght:
Yet he came to holde his day,
Whyle that it was lyght.

He dyde him streyt to Bernysdale,
Under the grene wode tre,
And he founde there Robyn Hode,
And all the mery meyné.

The knyght lyght doune of his good palfray;
Robyn whan he gan see,
So curteysly he dyde adoune his hode,
And set hym on his knee.

“God the save, Robyn Hode,
And all this company.”
“Welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
And ryght welcome to me.”

Than bespake hym Robyn Hode,
To that knyght so fre:
“What nede dryveth the to grene wode?
I praye the, syr knyght, tell me.

“And welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
Why hast thou be so longe?”
“For the abbot and the hye justyce
Wolde have had my londe.”

“Hast thou thy londe agayne?” sayd Robyn;
“Treuth than tell thou me.”
“Ye, for God,” sayd the knyght,
“And that thanke I God and the.

“But take not a grefe, that I have be so longe;
I came by a wrastelynge,
And there I holpe a pore yeman,
With wronge was put behynde.”

“Nay, for God,” sayd Robyn,
“Syr knyght, that thanke I the;
What man that helpeth a good yeman,
His frende than wyll I be.”

“Have here foure hondred pounde,” than sayd the knyght,
“The whiche ye lent to me,
And here is also twenty marke
For your curteysy.”

“Nay, for God,” than sayd Robyn,
“Thou broke it well for ay,
For Our Lady, by her selerer,
Hath sent to me my pay.

“And yf I toke it i-twyse,
A shame it were to me,
But trewely, gentyll knyght,
Welcom arte thou to me.”

Whan Robyn had tolde his tale,
He leugh and had good chere:
“By my trouthe,” then sayd the knyght,
“Your money is redy here.”

“Broke it well,” sayd Robyn,
“Thou gentyll knyght so fre,
And welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
Under my trystell-tre.

“But what shall these bowes do?” sayd Robyn,
And these arowes ifedred fre?”
“By God,” than sayd the knyght,
“A pore present to the.”

“Come now forth, Lytell Johan,
And go to my treasuré,
And brynge me there foure hondred pounde;
The monke over-tolde it me.

“Have here foure hondred pounde,
Thou gentyll knyght and trewe,
And bye hors and harnes good,
And gylte thy spores all newe.

“And yf thou fayle ony spendynge,
Com to Robyn Hode,
And by my trouth thou shalt none fayle,
The whyles I have any good.

“And broke well thy foure hondred pound,
Whiche I lent to the,
And make thy selfe no more so bare,
By the counsell of me.”

Thus than holpe hym good Robyn,
The knyght all of his care:
God, that syt in heven hye,
Graunte us well to fare!

The Fyfth Fytte

Now hath the knyght his leve 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 upon a day,
And that shoteth allther best
The game shall bere away.

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

A ryght good arowe he shall have,
The shaft of sylver whyte,
The hede and the feders of ryche rede 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 shryves fayth,
Trewe and yf he be.”

Whan they had theyr bowes i-bent,
Theyr takles fedred fre,
Seven 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 shot with bowes stronge.

“There shall but syx shote with me;
The other shal kepe my hede,
And stande with good bowes bent,
That I be not desceyved.”

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

Thryes Robyn shot a bout,
And alway he slist the wand,
And so dyde good Gylberte
Wyth the Whyte 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 a boute,
These archours fayre and good,
Evermore was the best,
For soth, Robyn Hode.

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

They cryed out on Robyn Hode,
And grete hornes gan they blowe:
“Wo worth the, treason!” sayd Robyn,
“Full evyl thou art to knowe.

“And wo be thou! thou proude sheryf,
Thus gladdynge thy gest;
Other wyse thou behote me
In yonder wylde forest.

“But had I the in grene wode,
Under my trystell-tre,
Thou sholdest leve me a better wedde
Than thy trewe lewté

Full many a bowe there was bent,
And arowes 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 dryve,
And the proud sheryfes men,
They fled away full blyve.

Robyn sawe the busshement to-broke,
In grene wode he wolde have 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 pyté.

“Mayster,” then sayd Lytell Johan,
“If ever thou lovest me,
And for that ylke Lordes love
That dyed upon a tre,

“And for the medes of my servyce,
That I have served the,
Lete never the proude sheryf
Alyve now fynde me.

“But take out thy browne swerde,
And smyte all of my hede,
And gyve me woundes 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 grene 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 grete kyndenesse,
Under the grene wode tre.

“I love 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;
I swere 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 mete can they gone.

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 contré up to route,
And they besette the knyghtes castell,
The walles all aboute.

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

“Syr, I wyll avowe that I have done,
The dedys that here be dyght,
Upon all the landes 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 kynges 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 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 wyl 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 contré.”

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 knight,
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 haukes 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 lever than an hundred pound
That he had Robyn Hode.

This harde the knyghtes 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 mené.

“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 bowne to Notingham warde,
For the love of the.”

Anone than saide goode Robyn
To that lady so fre,
“What man hath your lorde take?”
“The proude shirife,” than sayd she.

“The shirife hatt hym take,” she sayd,
“For soth as I the say;
He is nat yet thre myles
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 bowes 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 hym take,
I-quyte shall it be.”

And whan they came to Notingham,
They walked in the strete,
And with the proude sherif iwys
Sone 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 nat 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 cheve!
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.”

The Seventh Fytte

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

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

Whan they had tolde hym the case
Our kyng understode ther tale,
And seased in his honde
The knyghtes londes all.

All the compasse 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
Herdes many one,
He coud unneth fynde one dere,
That bare ony good horne.

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

“And he that wolde smyte of the knyghtes hede,
And brynge it to me,
He shall have the knyghtes londes,
Syr Rycharde at the Le.

“I gyve it hym with my charter,
And sele it my honde,
To have and holde for ever more,
In al mery Englonde.”

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

“There is no man in this countré
May have the knyghtes londes,
Whyle Robyn Hode may ryde or gone,
And bere a bowe in his hondes,

“That he ne shall lese his hede,
That is the best ball in his hode:
Give 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 countré that he were.

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

Than bespake a proude fostere,
That stode by our kynges kne:
“Yf ye wyll se good Robyn,
Ye must do after me.

“Take fyve of the best knyghtes
That be in your lede,
And walke downe by yon abbay,
And gete you monkes wede.

“And I wyll be your bedesman,
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 lyve yf that he be;
Or ye come to Notyngham,
With eyen ye shall hym se.”

Full hastly our kynge was dyght,
So were his knyghtes fyve,
Everych of them in monkes wede,
And hasted them thyder blyve.

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

Styf botes our kynge had on,
Forsoth as I you say;
He rode syngynge to grene wode,
The covent was clothed in graye.

His male-hors and his grete somers
Folowed our kynge behynde,
Tyll they came to grene wode,
A myle under 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 kynges hors,
Hastely in that stede,
And sayd, “Syr abbot, by your leve,
A whyle ye must abyde.

“We be yemen of this foreste,
Under the grene wode tre;
We lyve by our kynges dere,
Under the grene wode tre.

“And ye have chyrches and rentes both,
And gold full grete plenté;
Gyve us some of your spendynge,
For saynt charyté.”

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

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

“And I have but forty pounde,
No more than have I me;
But yf I had an hondred pounde,
I vouch it halfe on the.”

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

Full curteysly Robyn gan say;
“Syr, have 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 brode targe,
And sone he lete hym se;
Robyn coud his courteysy,
And set hym on his kne.

“I love no man in all the worlde
So well as I do my kynge;
Welcome is my lordes seale;
And, monke, for thy tydynge,

“Syr abbot, for thy tydynges,
To day thou shalt dyne with me,
For the love 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;
Seven 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 untyll,
And swore by Saynt Austyn,

“Here is a wonder semely syght;
Me thynketh, by Goddes 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 served our kynge with al theyr myght,
Both Robyn and Lytell Johan.

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

“Make good chere,” said Robyn,
“Abbot, for charyté,
And for this ylke 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 sterte all in hast,
Theyr bowes were smartly bent;
Our kynge was never so sore agast,
He wende to have be shente.

Two yerdes there were up set,
Thereto gan they gange;
By fyfty pase, our kynge sayd,
The merkes were to longe.

On every syde a rose-garlonde,
They shot under the lyne;
“Who so fayleth of the rose-garlonde,” sayd Robyn,
“His takyll he shall tyne,

“And yelde it to his mayster,
Be it never so fyne;
For no man wyll I spare,
So drynke I ale or wyne:

“And bere a buffet on his hede,
Iwys ryght all bare.”
And all that fell in Robyns lote,
He smote them wonder sare.

Twyse Robyn shot a boute,
And ever he cleved the wande,
And so dyde good Gylberte
With the Whyte 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 frendes 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 delyver the myn arowe,
I pray the, syr, serve thou me.”

“It falleth not for myn ordre,” sayd our kynge,
“Robyn, by thy leve,
For to smyte no good yeman,
For doute I sholde hym greve.”

“Smyte on boldely,” sayd Robyn,
“I give the large leve.”
Anone our kynge, with that worde,
He folde up his sleve,

And sych a buffet he gave 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 behelde 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 see them knele:
“My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
Now I knowe you well.”

“Mercy then, Robyn,” sayd our kynge,
“Under your trystyll-tre,
Of thy goodnesse and thy grace,
For my men and me!”

“Yes, for God,” sayd Robyn,
“And also God me save,
I aske mercy, my lorde the kynge,
And for my men I crave.”

“Yes, for God,” than sayd our kynge,
“And therto sent I me,
With that thou leve the grene 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 servyse for to se,
And brynge with me of my men
Seven score and thre.

“But me lyke well your servyse,
“I come agayne full soone,
And shote at the donne dere,
As I am wonte to done.”

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 meyné.”

“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 had so, iwys,
Another hode 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.

Theyr bowes bente, 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 helpe,” 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, iwys
On lyve he lefte never one.”

Full hastly 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 notes hye;
Than bespake our comly kynge
To Syr Rycharde 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 knyghtes 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 ferre 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 comted 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 courteysly,
To grene wode then went he.

Whan he came to grene wode,
In a mery mornynge,
There he herde the notes small
Of byrdes mery syngynge.

“It is ferre gone,” sayd Robyn,
“That I was last here;
Me lyste a lytell for to shote
At the donne 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, iwys,
Through a wycked woman,
The pryoresse of Kyrkely,
That nye was of hys kynne,

For the love of a knyght,
Syr Roger of Donkesly,
That was her owne 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,
“To morow I muste to Kyrkely,
Craftely to be leten blode.”

Syr Roger of Donkestere,
By the pryoresse he lay,
And there they betrayed good Robyn Hode,
Through theyr false playe.
Cryst have mercy on his soule,
That dyded on the Rode!
For he was a good outlawe,
And dyde pore men moch god.

A Gest of Robyn Hode

“A Gest of Robyn Hode” is Child Ballad 117;
it is also called A Lyttell Geste of Robyn Hode
in one of the two oldest books that contain it.
It is one of the oldest surviving tales of Robin Hood,
printed between 1492 and 1534 – Wikipedia
Images From Robin Hood (©1973 Disney)