In somer when the shawes be sheyne,
And leves be large and longe,
Hit is full mery in feyre foreste
To here the foulys song.
To se the dere draw to the dale,
And leve the hilles hee,
And shadow hem in the leves grene,
Vndur the grene-wode tre.
Hit befell on Whitsontide,
Erly in a may mornyng,
The son vp fayre can shyne,
And the briddis mery can syng.
“This is a mery mornyng,” seid Litulle Johne,
“Be hym that dyed on tre;
A more mery man than I am one
Lyves not in Cristiante.”
“Pluk vp thi hert, my dere mayster,”
Litulle Johne can sey,
“And thynk hit is a fulle fayre tyme
In a mornynge of may.”
“Ze on thynge greves me,” seid Robyne,
“And does my hert mych woo,
That I may not so solem day
To mas nor matyns goo.
“Hit is a fourtnet and more,” seyd hee,
“Syn I my Sauyour see;
To day will I to Notyngham,” seid Robyn,
“With the myght of mylde Mary.”
Then spake Moche the mylner sune,
Euer more wel hym betyde,
“Take xii thi wyght zemen
Well weppynd be thei side.
Such on wolde thi selfe slon
That xii dar not abyde.”
“Off alle my mery men,” seid Robyne,
“Be my feithe I wil non haue;
But Litulle Johne shall beyre my bow
Til that me list to drawe.”
* * * * *
“Thou shalle beyre thin own,” seid Litulle Jon,
“Maister, and I wil beyre myne,
And we wille shete a peny,” seid Litulle Jon,
“Vnder the grene wode lyne.”
“I wil not shete a peny,” seyde Robyn Hode,
“In feith, Litulle Johne, with thee,
But euer for on as thou shetes,” seid Robyn,
“In feith I holde the thre.”
Thus shet thei forthe, these zemen too,
Bothe at buske and brome,
Til Litulle Johne wan of his maister
V s. to hose and shone.
A ferly strife fel them betwene,
As they went bi the way;
Litull Johne seid he had won v shyllyngs,
And Robyn Hode seid schortly nay.
With that Robyn Hode lyed Litul Jone,
And smote him with his honde;
Litul John waxed wroth therwith,
And pulled out his bright bronde.
“Were thou not my maister,” seid Litulle Johne,
“Thou shuldis by hit ful sore;
Get the a man where thou wilt, Robyn,
For thou getes me no more.”
Then Robyn goes to Notyngham,
Hymselfe mornynge allone,
And Litulle Johne to mery Scherewode,
The pathes he knowe alkone.
Whan Robyn came to Notyngham,
Sertenly withoutene layne,
He prayed to God and myld Mary
To brynge hym out saue agayne.
He gos into seynt Mary chirche,
And knelyd downe before the rode;
Alle that euer were the churche within
Beheld wel Robyne Hode.
Beside hym stode a gret-hedid munke,
I pray to God woo he be;
Full sone he knew gode Robyn
As sone as he hym se.
Out at the durre he ran
Ful sone and anon;
Alle the zatis of Notyngham
He made to be sparred euerychone.
“Rise vp,” he seid, “thou prowde schereff,
Buske the and make the bowne;
I haue spyed the kynges felone,
For sothe he is in this towne.
“I haue spyed the false felone,
As he stondes at his masse;
Hit is longe of the,” seide the munke,
“And euer he fro vs passe.
“This traytur[s] name is Robyn Hode;
Vnder the grene wode lynde,
He robbyt me onys of a C pound,
Hit shalle neuer out of my mynde.”
Vp then rose this prowd schereff,
And zade towarde hym zare;
Many was the modur son
To the kyrk with him can fare.
In at the durres thei throly thrast
With staves ful gode ilkone,
“Alas, alas,” seid Robin Hode,
“Now mysse I Litulle Johne.”
But Robyne toke out a too-hond sworde
That hangit down be his kne;
Ther as the schereff and his men stode thyckust,
Thidurward wold he.
Thryes thorow at them he ran,
Then for sothe as I yow say,
And woundyt many a modur sone,
And xii he slew that day.
Hys sworde vpon the schireff hed
Sertanly he brake in too;
“The smyth that the made,” seid Robyn,
“I pray God wyrke him woo.
“For now am I weppynlesse,” seid Robyne,
“Alasse, agayn my wylle;
But if I may fle these traytors fro,
I wot thei wil me kylle.”
Robyns men to the churche ran
Throout hem euerilkon;
Sum fel in swonyng as thei were dede,
And lay still as any stone.
* * * * *
Non of theym were in her mynde
But only Litulle Jon.
“Let be your dule,” seid Litulle Jon,
“For his luf that dyed on tre;
Ze that shulde be duzty men,
Hit is gret shame to se.
“Oure maister has bene hard bystode,
And zet scapyd away;
Pluk up your hertes and leve this mone,
And herkyn what I shal say.
“He has seruyd our lady many a day,
And zet wil securly;
Therefore I trust in her specialy
No wycked deth shal he dye.
“Therfor be glad,” seid Litul Johne,
“And let this mournyng be,
And I shall be the munkes gyde,
With the myght of mylde Mary.
“And I mete hym,” seid Litull Johne,
“We will go but we too
* * * * *
“Loke that ze kepe wel our tristil tre
Vnder the levys smale,
And spare non of this venyson
That gose in thys vale.”
Forthe thei went these zemen too,
Litul Johne and Moche onfere,
And lokid on Moche emys hows
The hyeway lay fulle nere.
Litul John stode at a window in the mornynge,
And lokid forth at a stage;
He was war wher the munke came ridynge,
And with him a litul page.
“Be my feith,” said Litul Johne to Moche,
“I can the tel tithyngus gode;
I se wher the munk comys rydyng,
I know hym be his wyde hode.”
Thei went into the way these zemen bothe
As curtes men and hende,
Thei spyrred tithyngus at the munke,
As thei hade bene his frende.
“Fro whens come ze,” seid Litul Johne,
“Tel vs tithyngus, I yow pray,
Off a false owtlay [called Robyn Hode],
Was takyn zisturday.
“He robbyt me and my felowes bothe
Of xx marke in serten;
If that false owtlay be takyn,
For sothe we wolde be fayne.”
“So did he me,” seid the munke,
“Of a C pound and more;
I layde furst hande hym apon,
Ze may thonke me therefore.”
“I pray God thanke yow,” seid Litulle Johne,
“And we wil when we may;
We wil go with yow, with your leve,
And brynge yow on your way.
“For Robyn Hode hase many a wilde felow,
I telle yow in certen;
If thei wist ze rode this way,
In feith ze shulde be slayn.”
As thei went talkyng be the way,
The munke an Litulle Johne,
Johne toke the munkes horse be the hede
Ful sone and anone.
Johne toke the munkes horse be the hed,
For sothe as I yow say,
So did Muche the litulle page,
For he shulde not stirre away.
Be the golett of the hode
Johne pulled the munke downe;
Johne was nothynge of hym agast,
He lete hym falle on his crowne.
Litulle Johne was sore agrevyd,
And drew out his swerde in hye;
The munke saw he shulde be ded,
Lowd mercy can he crye.
“He was my maister,” said Litulle Johne,
“That thou hase browzt in bale;
Shalle thou neuer cum at our kynge
For to telle hym tale.”
John smote of the munkes hed,
No longer wolde he dwelle;
So did Moche the litulle page,
For ferd lest he wold tell.
Ther thei beryed hem both
In nouther mosse nor lynge,
And Litulle Johne and Muche infere
Bare the letturs to oure kyng.
* * * * *
He kneled down vpon–his kne,
“God zow sane, my lege lorde,
Jesus yow saue and se.
“God yow saue, my lege kyng,”
To speke Johne was fulle bolde;
He gaf hym tbe letturs in his hond,
The kyng did hit unfold.
The kyng red the letturs anon,
And seid, “so met I the,
Ther was neuer zoman in mery Inglond
I longut so sore to see.
“Wher is the munke that these shuld haue browzt?”
Oure kynge gan say;
“Be my trouthe,” seid Litull Jone,
“He dyed aftur the way.”
The kyng gaf Moche and Litul Jon
xx pound in sertan,
And made theim zemen of the crowne,
And bade theim go agayn.
He gaf Johne the seel in hand,
The scheref for to bere,
To brynge Robyn hym to,
And no man do hym dere.
Johne toke his leve at cure kyng,
The sothe as I yow say;
The next way to Notyngham
To take he zede the way.
When Johne came to Notyngham
The zatis were sparred ychone;
Johne callid vp the porter,
He answerid sone anon.
“What is the cause,” seid Litul John,
“Thou sparris the zates so fast?”
“Because of Robyn Hode,” seid [the] porter,
“In depe prison is cast.
“Johne, and Moche, and Wylle Scathlok,
For sothe as I yow say,
Thir slew oure men vpon oure wallis,
And sawtene vs euery day.”
Litulle Johne spyrred aftur the schereff,
And sone he hym fonde;
He oppyned the kyngus prive seelle,
And gaf hyn in his honde.
When the schereft saw the kyngus seelle,
He did of his hode anon;
“Wher is the munke that bare the letturs?”
He said to Litulle Johne.
“He is so fayn of hym,” seid Litulle Johne,
“For sothe as I yow sey,
He has made hym abot of Westmynster,
A lorde of that abbay.”
The scheref made John gode chere,
And gaf hym wine of the best;
At nyzt thei went to her bedde,
And euery man to his rest.
When the scheref was on-slepe
Dronken of wine and ale,
Litul Johne and Moche for sothe
Toke the way vnto the jale.
Litul Johne callid vp the jayler,
And bade him ryse anon;
He seid Robyn Hode had brokyn preson,
And out of hit was gon.
The portere rose anon sertan,
As sone as he herd John calle;
Litul Johne was redy with a swerd,
And bare hym to the walle.
“Now will I be porter,” seid Litul Johne,
“And take the keyes in honde;”
He toke the way to Robyn Hode,
And sone he hym vnbonde.
He gaf hym a gode swerd in his hond,
His hed with for to kepe,
And ther as the walle was lowyst
Anon down can thei lepe.
Be that the cok began to crow,
The day began to sprynge,
The scheref fond the jaylier ded,
The comyn belle made he rynge.
He made a crye thoroowt al the tow[n],
Whedur he be zoman or knave,
That cowthe brynge hyrn Robyn Hode,
His warisone he shuld haue.
“For I dar neuer,” said the scheref,
“Cum before oure kynge,
For if I do, I wot serten,
For sothe he wil me henge.”
The scheref made to seke Notyngham,
Bothe be strete and stye,
And Robyn was in mery Scherwode
As lizt as lef on lynde.
Then bespake gode Litulle Johne,
To Robyn Hode can he say,
“I haue done the a gode turne for an euylle,
Quyte me whan thou may.
“I haue done the a gode turne,” said Litulle Johne,
“For sothe as I you saie;
I haue brouzt the vnder grene wode lyne;
Fare wel, and haue gode day.”
“Nay, be my trouthe,” seid Robyn Hode,
“So shalle hit neuer be;
I make the maister,” seid Robyn Hode,
“Off alle my men and me.”
“Nay, be my trouthe,” seid Litulle Johne,
“So shall hit neuer be,
But lat me be a felow,” seid Litulle Johne,
“Non odur kepe I’ll be.”
Thus Johne gate Robyn Hode out of prisone,
Sertan withoutyn layne;
When his men saw hym hol and sounde,
For sothe they were ful fayne.
They filled in wyne, and made him glad,
Vnder the levys smale,
And zete pastes of venysone,
That gode was with ale.
Than worde came to oure kynge,
How Robyn Hode was gone,
And how the scheref of Notyngham
Durst neuer loke hyme vpone.
Then bespake oure cumly kynge,
In an angur hye,
“Litulle Johne hase begyled the schereff,
In faith so hase he me.
“Litulle Johne has begyled vs bothe,
And that fulle wel I se,
Or ellis the schereff of Notyngham
Hye hongut shuld he be.
“I made hem zemen of the crowne,
And gaf hem fee with my hond,
I gaf hem grithe,” seid oure kyng,
“Thorowout alle mery Inglond.
“I gaf hem grithe,” then seide oure kyng,
“I say, so mot I the,
For sothe soche a zeman as he is on
In alle Ingland ar not thre.
“He is trew to his maister,” seide oure kynge,
“I say, be swete seynt Johne;
He louys bettur Robyn Hode,
Then he dose vs ychone.
“Robyne Hode is euer bond to him,
Bothe in strete and stalle;
Speke no more of this matter,” seid oure kynge,
“But John has begyled vs alle.”
Thus endys the talkyng of the munke
And Robyne Hode i-wysse;
God, that is euer a crowned kyng,
Bryng vs alle to his blisse.
Other Poems by Andrew Lang