Robin Hood and the Monk

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This is an Anglish translation of Robin Hood and the Monk, a fifteenth century ballad. I've taken liberties to make it more comprehensible and to keep some of the lines rhyming.

The Writ

In the summer when the shaws were sheen,
and the leaves were big and long,
it was full merry in the fair woods
to hear the fowls' song.

To see the deers draw to the dale,
and from the high hills flee,
to shadow themselves in green leaves
under the greenwood tree.

It befell on Whitsun
early on a Thrimilk morning.
The fair sun above did shine,
and the merry birds did sing.

"This is a merry morning," said Little John,
"by him who died on a tree,
a more merry man than I
lives not in Christianity."

"Pluck up your heart, my dear lord,"
Little John said,
"and see that it is a full fair time,
this morning in which we tread."

"Yeah, but one thing gnorns me," said Robin,
"and does my heart much woe.
That I may not know earnest day,
to mass nor morning beads go."

"It has been a fortnight and more," he said,
"since my Healend I did see.
Today I will go to Nottingham
with the might of mild Mary."

Then spoke Mutch, the miller's son,
may for him good things betide.
"Take twelve of your bold yeomen,
well weaponed, by your side.
He who would have you slain,
would dare not those twelve abide."

"Of all my merry men," said Robin,
"I want no outlaw,
but Little John to bare my bow,
until I choose to draw."

"You shall bare your own," said Little John,
"lord, and I will bare mine,
and we will shoot for a penny,
under the greenwood lind."

"I will not shoot for a penny." said Robin,
"Indeed, Little John, I say to thee,
for every penny thou shootest for,
indeed I will stake thee three."

Thus they shot forth, these two yeomen,
both at bush and stone,
til Little John won of his lord,
five shillings for hose and shoon.

A ferly threep fell between them,
as they went by the way.
Little John said he had won five shillings,
and Robin Hood said shortly "nay".

Robin Hood called Little John a liar,
and smote him with his hand.
Little John waxed wroth therewith,
and pulled out his bright brand.

"Were you not my lord," said Little John,
"you would be hit full sore.
Get yourself a man where you will,
for you have me no more."

Then Robin went to Nottingham,
himself mourning alone,
and Little John to merry Sherwood,
the paths he knew each one.

When Robin came to Nottingham,
I will tell you what happened then,
he bade to God and mild Mary
to bring him out soundly again.

He went into Hallow Mary's church,
and knelt down before the rood.
All who were within the church
beheld well Robin Hood.

Beside him stood a big headed monk,
I bead to God woe to him be.
For quickly he melded Robin,
as soon as he did see.

Out the door the monk ran,
full swift and anon.
All the gates of Nottingham
he made to be sparred each one.

"Rise up," the monk said, "you proud sheriff,
busk yourself and make yourself bound.
I have spotted the king's warry,
forsooth he is in this town."

"I have spotted the sneaking warry,
as he stood there at mass.
It will be your shild," said the monk,
"If he should slip your grasp."

"This lordswike's name is Robin Hood,
under the greenwood lind.
He once stole from me a hundred pounds,
it shall never be out of my mind."

Up then rose this proud sheriff,
and swiftly made himself yare.
Many were the weaponed men
who to the church with him did fare.

The doors they thoroughly sparred,
with staves in full good wone;
"Wellaway," said Robin Hood,
"now miss I Little John."

Then Robin took out a twohanded sword,
that hanged down by his knee.
Where the sheriff and his men stood thickest
Thitherward would he be.

Thrice at them he ran then,
forsooth as I now say,
and wounded many a weaponed man,
and twelve he slew that day.

His sword upon the sheriff's head,
wissly it broke in two.
"The smith that made you," said Robin,
"I bead God work him woe."

"For now am I weaponless," said Robin,
"wellaway, against my will.
But if I seek to flee hence from,
I know they will me kill."

(leaf missing, Robin is caught, the merry men hear the news)

Some fell in swooning as if they were dead,
and lay still as any stone.
None of them were in their mind,
none but Little John.

"Let by your wailing," said Little John,
"for his love, Christ who died on a tree.
Ye who should be doughty men,
it is a great shame to see."

"Our lord was hard bestood
and yet ran not away.
Pluck up your hearts, and leave this moaning,
and hearken what I say."

"He has thewed Our Lady many a day,
and will again, the time is nigh.
Therefore I trust in her hoor,
no wicked death shall he die."

"Therefore be glad
and let this mourning go by.
I shall deal with that wicked monk,
with the might of mild Mary,
when I meet him," said Little John
"we will go but we two".

"Look that ye keep well our tryst tree
under the small leaves,
and spare none of this hartmeat,
that throughout this dale weaves."

Forth then went these yeomen two,
Little John and Mutch on the fare.
And looked on Mutch's eam's house,
the highway lay full near.

Little John stood at a window,
and looked forth from an upper room.
There he saw the monk come riding by,
and with him a little goom.

"By my lief," said Little John to Mutch,
"I can tell this tiding is good.
I see where the monk comes riding,
I know him by his wide hood."

"Whence come ye?" said Little John,
"tell us tidings, whatever ye can say,
of a wicked outlaw,
who was taken yesterday."

"He stole from me and my fellows both,
twenty marks he did gain.
If that wicked outlaw be taken,
forsooth we would both be fain."

"So did he me," said the monk,
"of a hundred pounds and more.
I laid the first hand upon him,
ye may thank me therefore."

"I bead to God to thank you," said Little John,
"and we will when we may.
We will go with you, with your leave,
and bring you on your way."

"For Robin Hood has many a wild fellow,
I tell you now of that bane.
If they knew ye rode this way,
in lief ye would be slain."

As they went talking by the way,
the monk and Little John,
John took the monk's horse by the head,
full soon and anon.

John took the monk's horse by the head,
forsooth as I now say.
So did Mutch fang the little goom,
so he could not flee away.

By the throat of the hood
John pulled the monk down.
John was not of him aghast,
he let him fall on his crown.

Little John who was so gnorny,
drew out his sword in one swoop.
The monk saw he would be killed,
loudly for milce he did roop.

"He was my lord," said Little John,
"who you have brought such bale.
You will never see our king,
nor tell him your last tale."

John smote off the monk's head,
no longer would he dwell.
So did Mutch the little goom,
for fear that he would tell.

There they buried them both,
in neither moss nor ling.
And Little John and Mutch as feres
took the monk's errands to the king.

Little John came unto the king,
he knelt down upon his knee.
"God nerry you, my lord,
Yesu narry you and see."

"God nerry you, my king."
To speak John was full bold.
He gave him the errands in his hand,
the king did them unfold.

The king read the errands anon,
and said, "So mot I thee,
there was never yeoman in merry England
I longed so sore to see."

"Where is the monk who these should have brought?"
that the king did say.
"By my truth," said Little John,
"he died along the way."

The king gave Mutch and Little John
twenty pounds and then,
made them yeomen of the throne,
and bade them go again.

He gave John the seal in hand,
to the sheriff for him to bare,
to bring Robin Hood to him,
and no man do him dere.

John took his leave of the king,
forsooth as I now say,
The next day to Nottingham
To take he yede the way.

When John came to Nottingham
the gates were sparred each one.
John called up to the porter,
and he answered back anon.

"What is the inting," asked Little John,
"you spar the gates so fast?"
"Along of Robin Hood," said the porter,
"now in deep goal he is cast."

"John and Mutch and Will Scathelock,
forsooth as I now say,
they slew the men upon the walls,
and fight us here every day."

John aspired after the sheriff,
and soon he him found;
he opened the king's privé seal,
and handed it on down.

When the sheriff saw the king's seal,
he did off his hood anon.
"Where is the monk that bore the errands?"
He asked of Little John.

"The king is so fain with him," said Little John,
"forsooth as I now say,
he has made him abbot of Westminster,
A lord of that abbey."

The sheriff did John harry,
and gave him wine of the best.
At night they went to their beds,
and every man to his rest.

When the sheriff was asleep,
drunken with wine and ale,
Little John and Mutch forsooth
found the way to the gaol.

John called up the gaoler,
and bade him rise anon.
"Robin Hood has broken out,
and from it he is gone."

The porter rose anon,
as soon as he heard John call.
Little John was ready with a sword,
and stabbed him through the wall.

"Now I am gaoler," said John,
and took the keys in his hands.
He tread the way to Robin Hood,
and freed him from his bands.

He gave Robin a good sword,
his head therewith to keep.
And there where the walls were lowest,
anon down did they leap.

By then the cock began to crow,
the day began to spring.
The sheriff found the gaoler dead,
so the town bell he did ring.

He made a roop throughout all the town,
telling both yeoman and knave.
Whoever brought him Robin Hood,
his meed he should have.

"For I dare never," said the sheriff,
"come before our king.
For if I do I know wissly,
that he will have me hang."

The sheriff sought throughout all Nottingham,
both by roads and by styne.
But Robin was in merry Sherwood,
as light as a leaf on lind.

Then bespake good Little John,
to Robin Hood did he say:
"I have done thee a good wharft from ill,
Meed me when you may."

"I have done you a good wharft,
forsooth as I now say.
I have brought you under the greenwood lind.
Farewell, and have good day."

"Nay, by my truth," said Robin,
"so shall it never be.
I make you the lord
of all my men and me."

"Nay, by my truth," said Little John,
"so shall it never be.
But let me be your fellow,
nothing else I care to be."

Thus John got Robin out of gaol,
indeed from that bane.
When his men saw him whole and sound,
forsooth they were full fain.

They filled in wine and were glad,
under the leaves of the dale.
And they ate pasties of hartmeat,
which were good with their ale.

Then word came to the king
how Robin Hood was gone.
And how the sheriff of Nottingham
dared never to look him upon.

Then bespake the comely king
in an anger high:
"Little John has swiked the sheriff,
in lief so has he I."

"Little John has swiked us both,
And that full well I see.
Or else the sheriff of Nottingham
highly hung should he be."

"I made them yeomen of the throne,
and gave them fee with my hand.
I gave them grith," said the king,
"throughout all merry England."

"I gave them grith," then said the king,
"I say, so mot I thee.
such a yeoman as he is one,
in all England are not three."

"He is true to his lord,
I say, by sweet Hallow John.
He loves better Robin Hood
then he does us each one."

"Robin Hood is ever bound to him,
both in street and stall.
Speak no more of this business,
but John has swiked us all."

Thus ends the tale of the monk
and Robin Hood iwiss.
God, that is ever a throned king,
bring us all to his bliss.