Verse Translation by
Robert Landis Frank

Painted Arrow Publishing
5862 Robin Hood Drive
El Sobrante, Ca 94803

The intention here is to have a version of the Geste of Robin Hood that the modern reader can enjoy without recourse to footnotes and a glossary. In ballad style, with all the medieval flavor of the original, this translation blends the old in with the new. The Geste was a folk song, or at least a live performance piece, so we can be sure it went through numerous changes before it became frozen in time as the poem we see in the Child Ballads. Names, places, audiences -- all probably changed from time to time to fit the occasion. Such is the living tradition that this song comes from, and it is in this spirit that it arose as it appears here.

Please direct your comments, questions, and suggestions to Robert Landis Frank at

Here Beginneth a Little Geste of Robin Hood

The First Fit

Stop and listen, everybody,

This story's pretty good.

It's all about a bold outlaw,

His name was Robin Hood.

Robin was a wise outlaw.

While he walked on ground,

So courteous an outlaw

Was seldom ever found.

Robin stood in the greenwood

And leaned against a tree,

And by him stood Little John,

A good yeoman was he.

And also did good Scarlett,

And Much, the miller's son.

Every inch of his body

Was worthy of a man.

Then spoke Little John

All unto Robin Hood,

"Master, if you would dine soon

It would do ye a lot of good."

Then spoke good Robin,

"To dine I have no wish,

Til I have some bold baron

Or some unknown guest.

"Til I have some wealthy abbot

That can pay for the best,

Or some knight or some squire

That lives here in the west."

Good habits then had Robin

In the land where he stayed.

Everyday before he ate

Three prayers would he say.

The one in the worship of the Father,

And another of the Holy Ghost,

The third of Our Dear Lady

That he loved the most.

Robin loved Our Dear Lady.

For fear of deadly sin,

He never would do company harm

That any woman was in.

"Master," then said Little John,

"If we're to spread the board,

Tell us where we shall go

And what we can afford.

"Where we shall take, where we shall leave,

Where we shall stay behind.

Where we shall rob, where we shall kill,

Where we shall beat and bind."

"Not so much force," said Robin.

"We'll get enough somehow.

But see that ye do no husband harm

That tills with his plough.

"Nor any good yeoman

That walks by greenwood hollow.

Nor any knight or squire

That will be a good fellow.

"These bishops and these archbishops,

Them shall ye beat and bind.

The high sheriff of Nottingham,

Him hold ye in your mind."

"This word shall hold," said Little John,

"And this lesson we shall remember.

It is late in the day, God send us a guest

So we can get to our dinner."

"Take thy good bow in thy hand," said Robin.

"Let Much go with thee.

And also William Scarlett,

And no man stay with me.

"And walk up to the Saylis

And down to Watling Street,

And wait for some unknown guest

That you may chance to meet.

"And be he earl or baron,

Abbot or knight or squire,

Bring him to me at the greenwood tree.

His dinner shall be on the fire."

They went up to the Saylis,

These yeomen all three.

They looked east, they looked west,

No man did they see.

But as they looked into the greenwood,

By a dark street,

There came a knight riding.

Him they soon did meet.

All dreary was his countenance,

And little was his pride.

His one foot in the stirrup stood,

The other hung beside.

His hood hung over his eyes.

He rode in simple array.

A sorrier man than he was

Rode never on summer day.

Little John was full courteous

And got down on his knee.

"Welcome be ye, gentle knight,

Welcome are ye to me.

"Welcome be thou to the greenwood,

Young fellow, knight and free.

My master waits for you fasting, sir,

All these hours three."

"Who is thy master?" said the knight.

John said, "Robin Hood."

"He is a good yeoman," said the knight.

"Of him I have heard much good.

"I grant," said he, "to go with you,

My brothers, all together.

Though I had planned to dine today

At Blythe or Duncaster."

Forth then went this gentle knight

In a sorrowful state.

The tears ran out of his eyes

And fell down by his face.

They brought him to the greenwood door.

When Robin he did see,

Full courteously he took off his hood

And got down on his knee.

"Welcome, sir knight," said Robin.

"Welcome art thou to me.

I have waited for you fasting, sir,

All these hours three."

Then answered the gentle knight

With words fair and free,

"God save thee, good Robin,

And all thy merry company."

They washed together and wiped off

And sat down to their dinner.

Bread and wine they had plenty of,

And the best parts of the deer.

Swans and pheasants they had full good

And fowls of the river.

They didn't leave out any little bird

That ever was bred on briar.

"Eat up, sir knight," said Robin.

"Thank you, sir," said he.

"I haven't had such a dinner

In all these weeks three.

"If I ever come again, Robin,

Here by this country,

As good a dinner I'll make for thee

As thou hast made for me."

"Thank you, knight," said Robin,

"For my dinner, whenever I have it.

I was never so greedy, by dear worthy God.

Food, I can take it or leave it.

"But pay ere ye go," said Robin.

"I think it is good and right.

It was never the manner, by dear worthy God,

A yeoman to pay for a knight."

"I have nothing in my trunk," said the knight,

"That I may offer, for shame."

"Little John, go look," said Robin.

"And don't leave out anything."

"Tell me the truth," said Robin,

"So God will have pity on thee."

"I have no more than ten shillings," said the knight.

"So God have pity on me."

"If thou hast no more," said Robin,

"I will not touch one penny.

And if you have need of any more,

More shall I lend thee.

"Go forth now, Little John,

And bring the truth to me.

If there be no more than ten shillings,

Not a penny shall I see."

Little John spread his mantle out

Full fair upon the ground,

And there he found in the knight's trunk

Only half a pound.

Little John let it lie full still

And went to his master low.

"What tidings, John?" said Robin.

"Sir, the knight is true enough."

"Pour out the best wine," said Robin.

"The knight shall begin.

No wonder, it seems to me,

Thy clothing is so thin.

"Tell me one word," said Robin.

"It will go no further than me.

I think you were made a knight of nothing,

Or else of yeomanry.

"Or else you have been a sorry husband

And lived in trouble and strife.

A usurer or a lecher," said Robin.

With wrong you've led your life."

"I am none of those, by God that made me,"

Said this gentle knight.

"A hundred winters here before

My ancestors have been knights.

"But often it has happened, Robin,

A man had been disgraced.

But God that sits in Heaven above

May amend his state.

"Within these two years, Robin," he said,

"My neighbors know it well,

Four hundred pounds of good money I spent,

Not all of it on myself.

"Now I have no goods," said the knight.

"God has so arranged it.

Just my children and my wife,

Til God decides to change it."

"In what manner," then said Robin,

"Have you lost your riches?"

"For my great folly," he said,

"And my little kindnesses.

"I had a son, Robin,

That should have been my heir.

When he was twenty winters old

In field he would joust full fair.

"He slew a knight of Lancaster

And a squire bold,

So to save him in his right,

My goods I gathered and sold.

"My lands I mortgaged, Robin,

Until a certain day,

To a rich abbot who lives near here

In Saint Mary's Abbey."

"What is the sum?" said Robin.

"How much do you owe?"

"Sir," he said, "four hundred pounds.

The abbot wants his loan."

"And if you lose your land," said Robin,

"What will happen to thee?"

"Hastily I will take me," said the knight,

"Over the salty sea,

"And see where Christ lived and died

On the mount of Calvary.

Farewell, friend, and have a good day.

It may no better be."

Tears fell out of his eyes,

He would have gone his way.

"Farewell, friend, and have a good day,

I have no more to pay."

"Where are your friends?" said Robin.

"Sir, not one of them knows me now.

When I was rich enough at home,

Great boasts to me they'd vow.

"And now they run away from me

Like beasts in a row.

They take no more heed of me,

As if they didn't know."

For sorrow then wept Little John,

Scarlett and Much together.

"Pour out the best wine," said Robin,

"For here is a poor fellow.

"Hast thou any friend," said Robin,

"That would thy sponsor be?"

"I have none," then said the knight,

"But God that died on a tree."

"Do away with thy jokes," said Robin.

"There I'll find me none.

Who should I have God borrow it from,

Peter, Paul, or John?

"Nay, by Him that made me

And shaped both sun and moon,

Find me a better sponsor," said Robin,

"Or money get thou none."

"I have no other," said the knight,

"The truth for to say,

Unless it be Our Dear Lady.

She never failed me to this day."

"By dear worthy God," said Robin,

"To search all England over,

I never found for my money

A much better sponsor.

"Come forth now, Little John,

And go to my treasure

And bring me four hundred pounds.

And see that it's well-measured."

Forth then went Little John,

And Scarlett went before.

He counted out four hundred pounds,

About eight and twenty score.

"Is this well-measured?" said Much.

John said, "What grieveth thee?

It's all to help that gentle knight

That fell into poverty.

"Master," then said Little John,

"His clothing is very thin.

You must give the knight some good clothes

To wrap his body in.

"For you have scarlet and green, master,

And many a rich array.

There is no merchant in merry England

So rich, I dare well say."

"Take him three yards of every color,

And see that you measure it true."

Little John took no other measure

But his long bow of yew.

At every handful that he met,

He counted it a yard.

"What sort of a cloth measurer," said Much,

"Do you think you are?"

Scarlett stood still and laughed

And said, "By God almighty,

John may give him good measure

For it costs him but lightly."

"Master," then said Little John

To gentle Robin Hood,

"You must give the knight a horse

To carry home these goods."

"Take him that grey packhorse," said Robin,

"And a saddle new.

He is Our Lady's messenger,

God grant that he be true."

"And a good war horse," said Much,

"To maintain him in his right."

"And a pair of boots," said Scarlett,

"For he is a gentle knight."

"What shall you give him, Little John?" said Robin.

"Sir, a pair of gilded spurs,

To pray for all this company

And bring him out of hurt."

"When shall my day be?" said the knight.

"Sir, thy will shall be."

"This day, twelve months from now," said Robin,

"Under this greenwood tree.

"It would be a great shame," said Robin,

"A knight alone to ride

Without squire, yeoman or page

To walk by his side.

"I shall lend thee Little John, my man,

And he shall be thy knave.

In a yeoman's stead he may thee stand

If ever you have great need."

The Second Fit

Now is the knight gone on his way.

This game he thought full good.

When he looked on the greenwood,

He blessed Robin Hood.

When he thought on the greenwood,

On Scarlett, Much and John,

He blessed them for the best company

He'd ever come upon.

Then spoke that gentle knight,

To Little John he did say,

"Tomorrow I must to Yorktown,

To Saint Mary's Abbey.

"And to the abbot of that place

Four hundred pounds deliver.

If I'm not there by tomorrow night

My land is lost forever."

The abbot said to his convent,

There he stood on ground,

"Twelve months ago a knight came here

And borrowed four hundred pounds.

"He borrowed four hundred pounds

Against all his land free.

If he doesn't come this very day,

Disinherited shall he be."

"It's too early," said the prior.

"The day is not far gone.

I'd rather pay a hundred pounds

And lie down soon.

"The knight is far beyond the sea,

In England is his right.

He suffers hunger and cold

And many a sorry night.

"It would be a great pity," said the prior,

"To have his land this way.

If ye be so light of your conscience

You'll do him wrong today."

"Thou art ever in my beard," said the abbot,

"By God and Saint Richard!"

With that came in a fat-headed monk,

The high steward.

"He is dead or hanged," said the monk,

"By God that bought me dear,

And we shall have to spend in this place

Four hundred pounds a year."

The abbot and the high steward

Started forth full bold.

The high justice of England

The abbot there did hold.

The high justice and many more

Had taken into their hands

All the knight's debt,

To have that knight's land.

They wouldn't give the knight a minute,

The abbot and his men.

"Unless he comes this very day,

He loses all his land."

"He won't come soon," said the justice.

"We have not long to wait."

But in sorrow time for them all

The knight came to the gate.

Then said that gentle knight,

To all his men said he,

"Now put on your simple clothes

That you brought from the sea."

They put on their simple clothes.

They came to the gates soon.

The porter was ready to let them in

And welcomed them everyone.

"Welcome, sir knight," said the porter.

"My lord to measure is he,

And so is many a gentleman,

For the love of thee."

The porter swore a full great oath,

"By God that made me,

Here is the best cursed horse

Ever I yet did see.

"Lead them to the stable," he said,

"So they can take their ease."

"They'll not go in there," said the knight,

"By God that died on a tree."

Lords have gone to measure

Inside that abbot's hall.

The knight went forth and kneeled

And saluted them great and small.

"How do you do, sir abbot," said the knight.

"I've come to hold my day."

The first word the abbot spoke,

"Have you brought my pay?"

"Not one penny," said the knight,

"By God that made me."

"You are a shrewd debtor," said the abbot.

"Sir justice, drink to me."

"What are you doing here," said the abbot,

"If you didn't bring your pay?"

"For God," then said the knight,

"To pray for a longer day."

"Your day is broke," said the justice.

"You can't pay what you owe."

"Now good sir justice, be my friend,

And defend me from my foes."

"I hold with the abbot," said the justice.

"He gave me some clothes and a fee."

"Now good sir sheriff, be my friend."

"No, by God," said he.

"Now good sir abbot, be my friend,

And show some courtesy,

And hold my lands in thy hand

Til we can all agree.

"And I will be your true servant

And serve you faithfully,

Until you have four hundred pounds

Of money, good and free."

The abbot swore a full great oath,

"By God that died on a tree,

Get the land where you may,

For you'll get none from me."

"By dear worthy God," then said the knight,

"That all this world wrought,

If ever I have my land again

Full dear it shall be bought.

"God that was of a maiden born,

Grant us all His help,

For it is good to help a friend

When he cannot help himself."

The abbot loathely on him looked

And names began to call.

"Out," he said, "you false knight,

Get out of my hall."

"You lie," then said the gentle knight,

"Abbot, in your hall.

False knight I never was,

By God that made us all."

Up then stood that gentle knight.

To the abbot said he,

"To suffer a knight to kneel so long,

You show no courtesy.

"In jousts and in tournaments

Full fair have I always been,

And put myself as thick in the fight

As any I've ever seen."

"How much will you give," said the justice,

"For the knight to make a release?

Or else I dare safely swear

You'll never hold your land in peace."

"A hundred pounds," said the abbot.

The justice said, "Give him two."

"No, by God," said the knight.

"You'll not get it so.

"Though you give me a thousand more,

Yet were you never the nearer.

You shall never be my heir,

Abbot, justice or friar."

He started for the board then,

To a table round,

And there he shook out of a bag

An even four hundred pounds.

"Here is your gold, sir abbot," said the knight,

"Which you loaned to me.

Had you been courteous at my coming,

Rewarded you would be."

The abbot sat still and said no more,

For all his royal fare.

He cast his head on his shoulders

And fast began to stare.

"Give me my gold," said the abbot,

"Sir justice, that I gave thee."

"Not a penny," said the justice,

"By God that died on a tree."

"Sir abbot and you men of law,

Now I have held my day.

Now I shall have my land again,

For all that you can say."

The knight walked out the door.

Gone was all his care.

He put on his good clothes,

The others he left there.

He went forth merrily singing

As men have told in tale.

His lady met him at the gate

At home in Verysdale.

"Welcome, my lord," said his lady.

"Have you lost your goods?"

"Be merry, dame," said the knight,

"And pray for Robin Hood,

"That ever his soul may be in bliss.

He's helped you and me.

Had it not been for his kindness,

Beggars we would be.

"The abbot and I are settled.

He's got all his pay.

The good yeoman loaned it to me

As I came by the way."

This knight then dwelled at home,

Doing what he could,

Til he had four hundred pounds

To pay back Robin Hood.

He bought a hundred bows,

The strings were furnished right.

A hundred sheaths of arrows gold,

The heads were burnished bright.

And every arrow an ell long

With peacock feathers bright,

Nocked all with white silver.

It was a handsome sight.

He got a hundred men

And decked them out alike,

And he dressed himself in the same suit

With cloth of red and white.

He held a lance in his hand,

Light glistened off his mail.

He rode with a light song

Along the greenwood trail.

But as he came to a bridge,

He stopped awhile to watch.

The best yeomen of the west were there

Having a wrestling match.

A full fair game it was.

A white bull was put up,

A great horse with saddle and bridle

And a bright gold stirrup.

A pair of gloves, a red gold ring,

A jug of wine -- the play:

The man that beareth himself the best

Shall bear the prize away.

There was a yeoman in that place

And the worthiest one was he.

But because he was a stranger there,

Slain he soon would be.

The knight had pity on this yeoman

In the place where he stood.

He said that yeoman should have no harm

For love of Robin Hood.

The knight pressed into the place,

A hundred followed him free,

With bows bent and arrows sharp

To part that company.

They shouldered all and made him room

To see what he would say.

He took the yeoman by the hand

And awarded him the play.

He gave him five marks for his wine,

There it lay on the ground,

And bad would it sit with anyone

Who tried to drink it now.

A long time tarried this gentle knight

Til that game was through.

So long waited Robin fasting

Three hours after the noon.

The Third Fit

Stay and listen, everyone,

All that still are here.

Of Little John, the knight's man,

Good mirth ye shall hear.

It was on a merry day

That young men would go shoot,

Little John strung his bow

And said he would go too.

Three times Little John shot about,

And each time he slit the wood.

The proud sheriff of Nottingham

By the target stood.

The sheriff swore a full great oath,

"By Him that died on a tree,

This man is the best archer

That ever I did see.

"Tell me now, strong young man,

What is thy name,

In what country were you born,

And where is your dwelling place?"

"In Holderness, sir, I was born.

That's where I live still.

Men call me Reynold Greenleaf

When I am in those hills."

"Tell me, Reynold Greenleaf,

Will you live with me?

And every year I will give you

Twenty marks for your fee."

"I have a master," said Little John,

"A courteous knight is he.

If you get leave of him,

The better may it be."

The sheriff got Little John

For twelve months from the knight,

And right away he gave him

A good strong horse to ride.

Now Little John is the sheriff's man,

God help us all.

But always thought Little John

To square the old account.

"Now God help me," said Little John,

"By my true loyalty,

I shall be the worst servant to him

That ever yet had he."

It fell upon a Wednesday,

The sheriff a'hunting was gone,

And Little John lay in his bed

And was forgotten at home.

There he was fasting

Til it was past the noon.

"Good sir steward, I pray thee,

Give me my dinner soon.

"It is long for Greenleaf

Fasting for to be.

Therefore, I pray thee, sir steward,

My dinner give to me."

"You will never eat nor drink," said the steward,

"Til my lord has come to town."

"I make my vow to God," said John,

"I'll sooner crack your crown."

The bottler was very uncourteous,

There he stood on the floor.

He started for the bottlery

And shut fast the door.

Little John gave the bottler such a tap

His back was nearly broke.

Though he lived a hundred years,

It's the worst he'd ever know.

Little John kicked the door with his foot.

It went open well and fine,

And there he found a large purveyance

Both of ale and wine.

"Since you won't dine with me," said Little John,

"I shall let you drink,

And though you live a hundred winters,

On Little John you shall think."

Little John ate and Little John drank

As much as he could hold.

The sheriff had in his kitchen a cook,

A stout man and bold.

"I make my vow to God," said the cook,

"You aren't worth a piss

To live in any house

And eat like this."

There he lent Little John

Good strokes three.

"I make my vow to God," said John,

"Those strokes really liked me.

"You are a bold, hearty man,

So it seems to me,

And before I leave this place

Better tried shall you be."

Little John drew a good long sword.

The cook took another in hand.

They did not think a thought to flee,

But stiffly for to stand.

There they fought together

Two miles across the floor.

Neither one could hurt the other

For at least an hour or more.

"I make my vow to God," said Little John,

"By my true loyalty,

You are one of the best swordsmen

That ever I yet did see.

"If you can shoot a bow as well,

You should come with me to the woods,

And two times a year there

You can change your clothes.

"And every year, Robin Hood

Will give you twenty marks for your fee."

"Put up thy sword," said the cook,

"And fellows we will be."

Then he fed Little John

The best parts of the doe.

Good bread and full good wine

They ate and drank also.

And when they had drank well,

Their pledges together they pledged

That very same night they would be with Robin

Among the greenwood hedge.

They went to the treasure house

As fast as they could have gone.

The locks that were of full good steel,

They broke them everyone.

They took away the silver vessel

And all that they could get.

Cups, goblets, and spoons --

Nothing did they forget.

They also took the good money,

Three hundred pounds and more,

And went straight to Robin Hood,

Up to the greenwood door.

"God save thee, my dear master,

And Christ save thee, too."

And then said Robin to Little John,

"It's good to see thee, too.

"And also that stout yeoman

Ye've brought along with thee.

What tidings now from Nottingham,

Little John, tell me."

"Well, the proud sheriff is weeping

And sent these here by me:

His cook and all his silverware,

And three hundred pounds and three."

"I make my vow to God," said Robin,

"And to the Trinity,

It was never by his good will

These goods have come to me."

Little John then and there

Thought of a shrewd plan.

He gathered all his will,

And five miles into the forest he ran.

Then he met the proud sheriff

Hunting with hounds and horn.

Little John was full courteous

And knelt down before him.

"God save thee, my dear master,

And Christ save thee, too."

"Reynold Greenleaf," said the sheriff.

"What have you been up to?"

"I have been in this forest.

A fair sight I did see.

It was one of the fairest sights

That ever appeared to me.

"Yonder I saw a right fair hart,

His color is of green.

Seven score of deer in a herd

Follow where he leads.

"Their antlers are so sharp, master,

At least sixty or more,

That I dare not shoot at them

For fear I might be gored."

"I make my vow to God," said the sheriff,

"That sight I'd like to see."

"Get moving, my dear master,

Right now, and come with me."

The sheriff rode, and Little John,

On foot he was full smart.

And when they came before Robin,

"Lo, sir, here is the master hart."

Still stood the proud sheriff.

A sorry man was he.

"You aren't worth much, Reynold Greenleaf.

You have betrayed me."

"I make my vow to God," said Little John,

"Master, you are to blame.

I was kept from my dinner

When I was at your home."

Soon they sat down to supper,

Served on a silver plate.

When the sheriff saw his vessel,

For sorrow he could not eat.

"Cheer up," said Robin Hood,

"Sheriff, for charity

And for the love of Little John,

Thy life I grant to thee."

When they had eaten well,

The day was all but gone.

"Take off the sheriff's shoes and socks,"

Said Robin to Little John.

His shirt and his fur coat

They took from the sheriff then

And gave him a green mantle

To wrap his body in.

Robin commanded his strong young men

Under the greenwood tree

That they should sleep in the same clothes

So the sheriff could see.

All night lay the proud sheriff

In his undershirt.

No wonder it was in the greenwood

His sides began to hurt.

"Cheer up, sheriff," said Robin,

"For by God's charity,

This how we live

Under the greenwood tree."

"This is a harder way to live," said the sheriff,

"Than any hermit or friar.

For all the gold in merry England

I wouldn't stay in these briars."

"For the next twelve months," said Robin,

"You shall dwell here with me.

I shall teach you, proud sheriff,

An outlaw how to be."

"Ere I stay here another night," said the sheriff,

"Robin, I beg you,

Cut off my head instead tomorrow

And I will forgive you.

"Let me go," then said the sheriff,

"For saints' charity,

And I will be the best friend

You ever did see."

"You shall swear me an oath," said Robin,

"On my bright sword,

You will never wait to waylay me

By land nor by water.

"And if you find any of my men

By day or by night,

Upon thy oath, ye shall swear

To help them all you might."

Now the sheriff has sworn his oath

And homeward made his speed.

He was as full of the greenwood

As a berry is of seed.

The Fourth Fit

The sheriff sat in Nottingham.

He was glad to be home.

And Robin and his merry men

Were in the woods alone.

"Let's go eat," said Little John.

Robin Hood said, "Nay.

I'm afraid Our Lady is mad at me,

For she has not sent my pay."

"Have no doubt, master," said Little John,

"The sun is not at rest.

For I dare say and safely swear,

The knight is of the best."

"Take your bow in your hand," said Robin,

"Let Much go with thee,

And also William Scarlett,

And no man stay with me.

"And walk up to the Saylis

And down to Watling Street,

And wait for some unknown guest

That you may chance to meet.

"Whether he be a messenger

Or a man that tells good stories,

He shall have some of my goods

If he is poor and hungry."

Forth then went Little John,

Half in anger and grief,

And buckled on a full good sword

Under a mantle of green.

They went up to the Saylis,

These yeomen all three.

They looked east, they looked west,

No man did they see.

But as they looked into the greenwood

By the highway,

They were aware of two black monks

On good horses riding their way.

Then said Little John,

To Much he did say,

"I dare lay my life on the line,

These monks have brought our pay.

"Cheer up," said Little John,

"And string your bows of yew,

And see that your hearts are firm and staunch

And your strings are trusty and true.

"These monks have two and fifty men

And seven packhorses, too.

There rides no bishop in this land

So royally as they do.

"Brethren," said Little John,

"We are no more than three.

But if we don't bring them to our dinner,

Our dinner we may not see.

"Bend your bows," said Little John,

"Make the whole crowd stand.

The foremost monk, his life and his death

Are fastened in my hand.

"Stay, vulgar monk," said Little John.

"Go no further than you stand.

If you do, by dear worthy God,

Your death is in my hand.

"And bad luck to your head," said Little John,

"Right under your hatband.

For you have made our master angry,

He's been fasting so long."

"Who is your master?" said the monk.

Little John said, "Robin Hood."

"He is a strong thief," said the monk.

"Of him I have never heard good."

"You lie," then said Little John,

"And for that you will be sorry.

He is a yeoman of the forest

And has invited you to dinner."

Much was ready with an arrow

And right there on the spot,

He held it against the monk's breast

And off his horse he got.

Of two and fifty strong young yeomen

There remained not one,

Save a little page and a groom

To lead the packhorses with John.

They brought the monk to the greenwood door

Whether he liked it or not,

To speak with Robin Hood

And eat from Robin's pot.

Robin took off his hood

When he saw the monk.

The monk was not so courteous,

So he put his hood back on.

"He is a churl, master, by dear worthy God,"

Then said Little John.

"Well, don't force him," said Robin,

"For courtesy has he none.

"How many men," said Robin,

"Did this monk have, John?"

"Fifty and two when we met him,

But many of them are gone."

"Blow the horn," said Robin,

"So the fellowship may begin."

Seven score of strong young yeomen

Came running into the glen.

And each one had a good mantle

Of striped cloth and red.

They all came to good Robin

And listened to what he said.

They made the monk wash up

And sat him down to dinner.

Robin Hood and Little John,

They both served him together.

"Eat up, monk," said Robin.

"Thank you, sir," said he.

"Where is your abbey when you are at home,

And who is your patron saint?"

"Saint Mary's Abbey," said the monk,

"Though I don't have much power."

"In what office?" said Robin.

"Sir, the high steward."

"So much the better," said Robin.

"You're the man I wanted to see.

Pour out the best wine," said Robin.

"This monk shall drink to me.

"But it sure seems strange," said Robin,

"All this long day

I'm afraid Our Lady is mad at me,

She has not sent my pay."

"Have no doubt, master," said Little John,

"You don't need to worry.

This monk has brought it, I dare swear,

For he is from her abbey."

"And she was a sponsor," said Robin,

"Between a knight and me

Of a little money I loaned him

Under the greenwood tree.

"If you have brought that silver,

I pray thee, let me see,

And I will help you anytime

If you have need of me."

The monk swore a full great oath

With a sorry face.

"The arrangement that you're talking about,

I never knew it took place."

"I make my vow to God," said Robin,

"Monk, you are to blame.

For God is always an honest Man,

And so is his Dame.

"You told me with your own tongue,

You may not say nay,

How you are Her servant

And serve Her everyday.

"And you've been made Her messenger

My money for to pay.

Therefore, I thank you all the more,

You've come on your day.

"What is in your trunks?" said Robin,

"Now tell me the truth."

"Sir," he said, "twenty marks.

I wouldn't lie to you"

"If there be no more," said Robin,

"I will not touch a penny,

And if you have need of any more,

More shall I lend thee.

"But if I find more," said Robin,

"Truly, it shall be gone.

For of thy spending silver, monk,

I will leave thee none.

"Go forth now, Little John,

And bring the truth to me.

If there be no more than twenty marks,

Not a penny will I see."

Little John spread his mantle down

As he had done before,

And he counted out of the monk's trunk

Eight hundred pounds and more.

Little John let it lie full still

And went to his master in haste.

"Sir," he said, "the monk is true enough.

Our Lady had doubled your pay."

"I make my vow to God," said Robin,

"Monk, what did I tell you?

Our Lady is the truest Woman

That I ever knew.

"By dear worthy God," said Robin,

"To search all England over,

Yet I never found for my money

A much better sponsor.

"Pour out the best wine and let him drink," said Robin,

"And thank Our Lady, men.

If She ever has need of Robin Hood,

She will find in him a friend.

"And if She needs anymore silver,

Just come again to me,

And by this token She has sent

She shall have it free."

The monk was going to London

There to hold his court,

To bring that knight under foot

That rode so high on horse.

"Where are you going?" said Robin.

"Sir, to the court of this land,

To reckon with our bailiffs.

They're doing it wrong again."

"Come forth now, Little John,

And listen to this monk.

I don't know anyone better than you

To search a monk's trunk.

"How much is in that other trunk?" said Robin.

"The truth we must see."

"By Our Lady," said the monk,

"You're not very courteous to me.

"To ask a man to dinner

And then to rob him blind."

"It is our manner," said Robin,

"To leave but little behind."

The monk took to his horse with spur,

No longer would he stay.

"Ask us for a drink," said Robin,

"Before you ride away."

"Nay, for God," then said the monk.

"I'm sorry I came so near.

I might have eaten cheaper

At Blythe or Duncaster."

"Tell your abbot hello," said Robin,

"And your prior, too, I pray.

And ask them to send me such a monk

To dinner everyday."

Now we'll let that monk be still

And see about that knight.

He came to hold his day

While it was still light.

He went straight to the meeting place

Under the greenwood tree,

And there he found Robin Hood

And all his merry company.

The knight lit down off his good horse

When Robin he did see.

So courteously he took off his hood

And got down on his knee.

"God save you, Robin Hood,

And all this company."

"Welcome, gentle knight,

Right welcome are ye to me."

Then said Robin Hood

To that knight so free,

"What need drove you to the greenwood?

I pray, sir knight, tell me."

And "Welcome back, gentle knight.

Why were you gone so long?"

"Because the abbot and the high justice

Would have done me wrong."

"Do you have your land again?" said Robin.

"Now tell me the truth."

"Yes, for God," said the knight,

"Thanks to God and you.

"But don't worry," said the knight,

"That I've been gone so long.

I helped a yeoman at a wrestling match.

The crowd would have done him wrong."

"Nay, for God," said Robin. "Sir knight,

For that, my thanks to thee.

The man that helps a good yeoman,

His friend will I be."

"Here, have four hundred pounds," then said the knight,

"The which ye lent to me.

And here is also twenty marks,

For your courtesy."

"Nay, for God," then said Robin.

"You spend it some other way.

For Our Lady, by Her high steward,

Has already sent my pay.

"And if I took it twice,

A shame it were to me.

But truly, gentle knight,

You're a welcome sight to see."

When Robin had told his tale,

He laughed and had good cheer.

"By my faith," then said the knight,

"Your money is ready here."

"Spend it well," said Robin,

"You gentle knight so free.

And welcome be ye anytime

Under my greenwood tree.

"But what are these bows for?" said Robin.

"And these arrows feathered free?"

"For God," then said the knight,

"A poor present to thee."

"Come forth now, Little John,

And go to my treasure

And bring me four hundred pounds.

The monk has over-measured.

"Here, have four hundred pounds,

Thou gentle knight and true.

And buy a good horse and saddle

And gilt your spurs anew.

"And if you need any spending money,

Come to Robin Hood,

And by my faith, you shall not lack

While I have any goods.

"And spend well your four hundred pounds

Which I lent to thee.

And don't go around so bare,

Just between you and me."

Thus good Robin helped the knight

Out of all his care.

God that sits in Heaven high,

Grant us well to fare.

The Fifth Fit

Now the knight has said goodby

And gone along his way.

Robin Hood and his merry men

Lived there many a day.

Stay and listen, everyone,

And pay attention to what I say,

How the proud sheriff of Nottingham

Called for a day of play.

That all the best archers of the north

Should come on a certain day,

And he that shoots the best

Shall bear the prize away.

He that shoots the best,

The furthest and the truest,

At a pair of good targets

Under the greenwood forest,

A right good arrow he shall have,

The shaft of white silver,

The head and feathers of rich red gold,

In England there is none finer.

Then good Robin heard about this

Under his greenwood tree.

"Get ye ready, my strong young men,

That shooting I will see.

"Come on, my merry young men.

You shall all go, too.

And I will test the sheriff's faith

And see if he is true."

When they had their bows strung

And their arrows feathered free,

Seven score of strong young men

Stood by Robin's knee.

When they came to Nottingham

The targets were good and long.

Many a bold archer was there

Whose bow was good and strong.

"Six of you shoot with me,

The others keep us covered,

And stand with good bows strung

In case we are discovered."

The fourth outlaw bent his bow,

And that was Robin Hood.

And the proud sheriff saw it all

As by the target he stood.

Three times Robin shot about,

And each time he slit the wand.

And so did good Gilbert

With the white hand.

Little John and good Scarlett

Were archers of the best.

Little Much and good Reynold

Were better than the rest.

When they had shot about,

These archers fair and good,

Every time the best one,

Indeed, was Robin Hood.

He was given the good arrow

For the worthiest was he.

He took the gift so courteously,

He would go to the greenwood tree.

They cried out on Robin Hood

And great horns began to blow.

"Woe to you, Treason," said Robin.

"Full evil are you to know.

"And woe to you, you proud sheriff,

Thus to have your jest.

You promised me differently

Back in the wild forest.

"But if I had you in the greenwood

Under my greenwood tree,

You would leave me a better pledge

Than your true loyalty."

Full many a bow there was bent

And arrows they let glide.

Many a jacket there was rent

And hurt many a side.

The outlaws' shot was so strong

No man could drive them off.

And the proud sheriff's men,

They fled away like chaff.

If Robin had known about this ambush,

In the greenwood he would be.

Many an arrow there was shot

Among that company.

Little John was hurt full sore

With an arrow through his knee.

That he could neither walk nor ride

Was a great pity to see.

"Master," then said Little John,

"If you ever loved me,

And for that same Lord's sake

That died upon a tree,

"And for all the good service

I gave you everyday,

Don't let the proud sheriff

Find me alive this way.

"But take out your bright sword

And cut off my head

And give me wounds deep and wide

And leave me here dead."

"I don't want that," said Robin,

"John, to have you slain.

Not for all the gold in merry England,

Though here in a pile it lay."

"God forbid," said little Much,

"That died on a tree,

That you, Little John,

Should part our company."

He took him up on his back

And carried him over a mile.

Many a time he laid him down

And shot a little while.

Then there was a fair castle

A little ways in the woods,

Double-ditched all about

And walled by the road.

And there lived that gentle knight,

Sir Richard at the Lea,

That Robin had lent his goods

Under the greenwood tree.

He took good Robin in

And all his company.

"Welcome, Robin Hood.

You're welcome here to me.

"And I want to thank you for your comfort

And for your courtesy

And for your great kindness

Under the greenwood tree.

"I love no man in all the world

So much as I do thee.

For all the proud sheriff of Nottingham,

Right here you shall be.

"Shut the gates and draw the bridge

And let no man come in.

And arm ye well and make ye ready

And to the walls ye win.

"For one thing, Robin, I promised you,

I swear by Saint Quentin.

For forty days you'll stay with me,

Eating and drinking."

Boards were laid and cloths were spread,

As quick as they could do it.

Robin Hood and his merry men

Have all fallen to it.

The Sixth Fit

Stay and listen, everybody,

And enjoy your song,

How the proud sheriff of Nottingham

Gathered an army strong.

Quickly came the high sheriff

Routing up the country,

And they attacked the knight's walls

All around his castle.

The proud sheriff loudly called,

"Knight, you're a traitor.

You're keeping the king's enemy here

Against the law and order."

"Sir, the deed that here was done,

I did it, you are right,

By all the land that I have,

As I am a true knight.

"Keep traveling, sirs, on your way

And do no more to me

Til you know our king's will

And what he will say to thee."

The sheriff had his answer.

Without slowing down,

Fourth he went to tell the king

Down in London town.

There he told him of that knight

And of Robin Hood

And also of the bold archers

That were so noble and good.

"He vows that he has done all this

To help the outlaw band.

He will be lord and set you at naught

In all the northern land."

"I will be at Nottingham," said the king,

"Within fourteen nights,

And I will take this Robin Hood,

And I will take that knight.

"Go home now, sheriff," said the king,

"And do as I bid thee,

And call in all the good archers

From all the wide country."

The sheriff has taken his leave

And gone along his way.

Robin Hood went back to the woods

Upon a certain day.

And Little John was healed of the arrow

That was shot in his knee,

And he went straight to Robin Hood

Under the greenwood tree.

Robin Hood walked in the forest

Under the green leaves.

The proud sheriff of Nottingham

Was stewing in his grief.

The sheriff had failed with Robin Hood.

He could not have his prey,

So he waited for this gentle knight

Both by night and day.

He waited for this gentle knight

By the riverside,

As Sir Richard went out hawking

And let his hawks fly.

There he took this gentle knight

With his armed band

And led him back to Nottingham

Bound foot and hand.

The sheriff swore a full great oath,

By Him that died on wood,

More than a hundred pounds

He wanted Robin Hood.

The knight's wife heard about this,

A lady fair and free.

She set herself on a good horse

And rode to the greenwood tree.

When she rode into the forest,

Into the greenwood glen,

There she found Robin Hood

And his fair men.

"God save thee, good Robin,

And all thy company.

For Our Dear Lady's sake

I ask a favor of thee.

"Don't let my wedded lord

Be shamefully slain, I pray.

He is bound fast to Nottingham

For the love of you this day."

Right away good Robin said

To that lady so free,

"What man has taken your lord away?"

"The high sheriff," said she.

"The high sheriff and all his men,

The truth as I here say.

He is not yet three miles

Passed along his way."

Then good Robin started up,

He didn't care what it cost.

"Get you ready, my merry men,

By Him that died on a cross.

"Whoever forsakes this sorrow,

By Him that died on a tree,

No longer in the greenwood

Will he ever dwell with me."

Soon there were good bows strung,

More than a hundred and forty.

Hedge nor ditch spared they none,

And everyone got dirty.

"I make my vow to God," said Robin,

"I'd like to see the sheriff now.

And if I could take him,

I would square the old account."

And when they came to Nottingham

They walked in the street.

And the proud sheriff, truly,

Soon they came to meet.

"Wait, you proud sheriff," he said,

"Stop and speak with me.

Of some tidings from our king

I'd love to hear from thee.

"For seven years, by dear worthy God,

I haven't gone this fast on foot.

I make my vow to God, you proud sheriff,

It is not for thy good."

Robin bent a full good bow,

An arrow he drove at will.

It hit the proud sheriff so,

On the ground he lay full still.

And before he could get up

Or rise upon his feet,

He cut off the sheriff's head

Right there in the street.

"Lie there, proud sheriff.

Evil, meet thy death.

No man could trust you

While you drew breath."

His men drew out their bright swords

That were so sharp and keen

And laid on the sheriff's men

And drove them down the street.

Robin started for that knight

And cut his bonds in two

And put a bow in his hand

And told him what to do.

"Leave your horse behind you

And learn how to run.

You shall come with me to the greenwood

Through mire, moss and fern.

"You shall come with me to the greenwood

Without slowing down,

Til I have got us the grace of the king

Down in London town."

The Seventh Fit

The king has come to Nottingham

With knights in great array

To take that gentle knight

And Robin Hood, if he may.

He asked men of that country

About Robin Hood

And about that gentle knight

That was so bold and good.

When they had told the king the case,

He began to understand

And seized in his hand

All that knight's land.

Throughout the pass of Lancashire

He went both far and near,

All the way to Plomton Park.

He missed many of his deer.

There the king was used to seeing

Herds with many a hart.

He couldn't find one deer

Whose horns were worth a fart.

The king was plenty mad at this

And swore by God on high,

"I'd like to see this Robin Hood

With my own two eyes.

"Whoever cuts off the knight's head

And brings it here to me,

He shall have the knight's land,

Sir Richard at the Lea.

"I give it to him with my charter

And seal it with my hand,

To have and hold for evermore

In all merry England."

Then spoke up a fair old knight

That was true in his faith,

"Ah, my liege lord the king,

One word to you I'll say.

"There is no man in this country

That can hold the knight's land

While Robin Hood can ride or walk

And hold a bow in his hand.

"Unless you want him to lose his head,

The best ball in his hood,

Don't give it to any man, my lord the king,

To whom you wish any good."

Half a year the comely king

Stayed in Nottingham town,

Hoping to hear of Robin Hood

And trying to track him down.

But always good Robin went

By hollow and by hill,

And always slew the king's deer

And disposed of them at will.

Then spoke up a proud forester

That stood by the king's knee,

"If you want to see good Robin,

You must come with me.

"Take five of the best knights

That are under your control

And walk down by that abbey

And get some monks' robes.

"And I will be your lead man

And lead you on your way,

And before you come to Nottingham,

My head I dare here lay,

"You shall meet with good Robin,

If he is still alive.

Before you come to Nottingham

You'll see him with your eyes."

Quickly then the king got ready,

And so did his five knights.

Each of them in monks' clothes,

They left that very night.

The king looked distinguished in his cowl.

With a broad hat on his crown,

As if he were an abbot,

They rode up into the town.

Stiff boots the king had on

On that pleasant day.

He rode singing to the greenwood.

The convent was clothed in grey.

His trunks and his great packhorse

Followed behind the king

Til they came to the greenwood,

A mile beyond the spring.

There they met with good Robin

Standing in the way,

And so was many a bold archer

On that pleasant day.

Robin took the king's horse.

He grabbed him by the rein,

And said, "Sir abbot, by your leave,

Awhile ye must remain.

"We be yeomen of this forest,

Under the greenwood tree.

We live by our king's deer,

No other shift have we.

"And you have churches and rents both,

And gold in great plenty.

Give us some of your spending money,

For saints' charity."

Then said our comely king,

Right away said he,

"I brought no more to the greenwood

But forty pounds with me.

"I have been at Nottingham

With our king for fourteen nights

And spent a lot of money there

On many a lord and knight.

"And I have but forty pounds,

No more you'll find on me,

But if I had a hundred pounds

I would trust it all with thee."

Robin took the forty pounds

And divided it in two.

Half he gave to his merry men

To do as they would do.

Full courteously Robin said, "Sir,

Have this for your spending.

We shall meet another day."

"Thank you," said the comely king.

"But our king sends you his greetings

And wants you to have his seal

And bids you come to Nottingham,

Both to meat and ale."

He took out the royal charter,

And soon he let him see.

Robin showed his courtesy

And got down on his knee.

"I love no man in all the world

So well as I do my king.

Welcome is my lord's seal,

And monk, for thy tiding,

"Sir abbot, for your good news,

Today you shall dine with me

For the love of my king,

Under my greenwood tree."

Forth he led the comely king

To where the food was shared.

Many a deer there was slain

And full fast prepared.

Robin took a full great horn

And loudly he did blow.

Seven score of strong young men

Came ready on a row.

All kneeled down on their knee

Right there in front of Robin.

The king was beside himself

And swore to Saint Austin.

"Here is a wondrously befitting sight,

Me thinketh, by God's pine.

His men are more at his bidding

Than my men are at mine."

Right away their dinner was served,

And that's where they have gone.

They served the king with all their might,

Both Robin and Little John.

Soon before the king was set

The fatted venison,

The good white bread, the good red wine,

And the ale fine and brown.

"Enjoy yourself," said Robin,

"Abbot, for charity,

And for this good news you have brought,

Blessed may ye be.

"Now you shall see what life we lead

Before you leave our glen,

So you can inform our king

When you're together again."

Up they started, all in haste,

Their bows were smartly bent.

The king was never so sore aghast,

He feared he might get rent.

Two targets there were set up,

And it's there that they have gone.

"By fifty paces," the king said,

"The distance is too long."

On either side, a rose garland

They shot at under the trees.

"Whoever misses the garland," said Robin,

"Shall bring his arrow to me.

"And give it to his master,

Be it ever so fine,

For no man will I spare

As I drink ale or wine,

"And bear a blow on his bare head

As hard as I can swing."

And all that fell in Robin's lot,

He let them feel his sting.

Twice Robin shot about,

Each time he split the wand.

And so did good Gilbert

With the white hand.

Little John and good Scarlett,

No one was spared,

When they missed the garland

The blow they had to bear.

At the last shot that Robin shot

For all his friends so fair,

He missed the rose garland

Three fingers and more.

Then spoke up good Gilbert,

To Robin he did say,

"Master," he said, "your arrow is lost.

Stand forth and take your pay."

"If it be so," said Robin,

"It may no better be.

Sir abbot, I deliver thee my arrow.

I pray thee, sir, serve me."

"It falleth not to my order," said the king,

"Robin, by your leave,

To smite any good yeoman

For fear I should make him grieve."

"Smite on boldly," said Robin.

"I give thee larger leave."

Right away the king, with that one word,

Folded up his sleeve.

And such a blow he gave Robin,

He almost knocked him down.

"I make my vow to God," said Robin,

"You are a stalwart friar.

"There is pith in thy arm," said Robin.

"I bet you can shoot pretty good."

Thus the king and Robin Hood

Met there in the woods.

Robin looked the comely king

Thoughtfully in the face,

And so did Richard at the Lea,

And kneeled down in that place.

And so did all the wild outlaws

When they saw them kneel.

"My lord, the king of England.

Now I know you well."

"Thank you, Robin," said the king,

"Under your greenwood tree,

For your goodness and your grace

Towards my men and me."

"Yes, for God," said Robin,

"And also God save me.

I ask mercy, my lord the king,

For my men and me."

"Yes, for God," then said the king,

"To that I will agree,

If you will leave the greenwood

With all your company

"And come home, sir, to my court

And there dwell with me."

"I make my vow to God," said Robin,

"Indeed, so shall it be.

"I will come to your court,

Your service for to see,

And bring with me of my men

Seven score and three.

"But if I don't like your service

I will come again full soon

And shoot at the dunny deer,

As I have always done."

The Eighth Fit

"Have you any green cloth," said the king,

"That you will sell to me?"

"Yes, for God," said Robin,

"Thirty yards and three."

"Robin," said the king,

"Now I ask of thee,

Sell me some of that cloth

For my men and me."

"Yes, for God," then said Robin,

"Or else I were a fool.

Another day ye will me clothe,

I trust, against the yule."

The king cast off his cowl then,

A green garment he put on.

And every knight, also,

Got a new green robe.

When they were clothed in Lincoln green

They cast away their grey.

"Now we shall go to Nottingham,"

Thus the king did say.

They strung their bows and forth they went,

Shooting side by side.

Towards the town of Nottingham

Like outlaws they did ride.

The king and Robin rode together

On that pleasant day,

And they traded blows whenever they missed

As they went by the way.

And many a blow the king won

Off Robin Hood that day,

And Robin never spared himself

To give the king his pay.

"So help me, God," said the king,

"I've learned this game right here.

I should not get the best of you

Though I shoot all this year."

All the people of Nottingham,

They stood and beheld.

They saw nothing but mantles of green

That covered all the field.

Then every man to the other did say,

"I fear our king is killed!"

"Robin Hood is coming to town!"

"He never left anyone alive!"

Full hastily they began to flee,

Yeomen, knaves, and merchants,

And old wives that could barely go,

They hopped on their crutches.

The king laughed heartily

And commanded them again.

When they saw the comely king,

Indeed, they were glad it was him.

They ate and drank and made them glad

And sang with notes of glee.

Then spoke the comely king

To Sir Richard at the Lea.

He gave him back his land again,

A good man he bid him be.

Robin thanked the comely king

And got down on his knee.

Robin had dwelled in the king's court

But twelve months and three,

And he had spent a hundred pounds

And all his men's fee.

In every place where Robin came,

The money he laid down

Both for knights and for squires,

To get him great renown.

By the time the year was spent

He only had two men --

Little John and good Scarlett.

All the rest had gone.

Robin saw the young men shoot

Full fair upon a day.

"Alas," then said good Robin,

"My wealth has slipped away.

"Once I was a good archer,

A stiff one and a strong one.

I was counted the best archer

That was in merry England.

"Alas," then said good Robin,

"Alas, and God help me.

If I dwell any longer with the king,

Sorrow will kill me."

Forth then went Robin Hood

Til he came to the king.

"My lord, the king of England,

Grant me this one thing.

"I made a chapel in the greenwood

That beautiful is to see.

It is of Mary Magdeline,

And there I long to be.

"I can never in these seven nights

Have time to sleep a wink,

Nor in all these seven days

Have either eat nor drink.

"I'm longing sore for Bernsdale,

I miss the greenwood so,

Barefoot, with wool against my skin,

I promised I would go."

"If it be so," then said the king,

"It may no better be.

Seven nights and no longer

I give thee leave of me."

"Thank you, lord," then said Robin

And got down on his knee.

He took his leave full courteously,

To the greenwood then went he.

When he came to the greenwood,

On a merry morning,

He heard the small notes

Of birds' merry singing.

"It's been a long time," said Robin,

"Since I was last here.

I'd like a little while to shoot

At the dunny deer."

Robin slew a full great hart.

His horn he then did blow,

For all the outlaws of that forest,

His horn they would know.

And they gathered themselves together

In a little throw.

Seven score of strong young men

Came ready on a row.

And they took off their hoods

And got down on their knee.

"Welcome," they said, "our dear master,

Under this greenwood tree."

Robin dwelled in the greenwood

Two and twenty years.

For all the dread of the king

He wouldn't go back there.

Yet he was beguiled, indeed,

Through a wicked woman's sin --

The prioress of Kirksley

That was not of his kin.

For the love of a knight,

Sir Roger of Duncaster

That was her own special --

In evil they met together.

They took together their counsel

Robin Hood for to slay,

And how they best might do that deed

And murder him that day.

Then said good Robin

In the place where he stood,

"Tomorrow I must to Kirksley

To be letting my blood."

Sir Roger of Duncaster,

By the prioress he lay,

And there they betrayed good Robin Hood

Through their false play.

Christ that died on the cross,

Have mercy on Robin Hood,

For he was a brave outlaw

And did poor men much good.

Here Endeth this Little Geste of Robin Hood.

Colophon: This ballad, originally published anonymously in Middle English, in the 16th century, was rendered into this version of contemporary English by Robert Landis Frank, in the year of Our Lord, 1974, in Oakland, California, across the street from Bushrod Park.