Robin Hood

Week 9: Medieval Heroes - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

Robin Hood and Sir Guy (Ballad 118)

Reading time: (3 minutes)

Now see how the ballad presents this story, going back and forth between the two different strands of the story.

When shawes beene sheene, and shradds full fayre,
And leeves both large and longe,
It is merry, walking in the fayre forrest,
To heare the small birds songe.

shaws = woods
sheene = bright
shradds = coppices

The woodweele sang, and wold not cease,
Amongst the leaves a lyne.
"And it is by two wight yeomen,
By deare God, that I meane.

woodweele = oriole
lyne = lime tree
wight = strong

Me thought they did mee beate and binde,
And tooke my bow mee froe;
If I bee Robin a-live in this lande,
I'le be wrocken on both them towe."

mee froe = from me
wrocken = avenged
towe = two

"Sweavens are swift, master," quoth John,
"As the wind that blowes o'er a hill;
For if itt be never soe lowde this night,
To-morrow it may be still."

sweavens = dreams

"Buske yee, bowne yee, my merry men all,
For John shall goe with mee;
For I'le goe seeke yond wight yeomen
In greenwood where the bee."

buske yee =
get dressed
bowne yee = get ready
the = they

The cast on their gowne of greene,
A shooting gone are they,
Untill they came to the merry greenwood,
Where they had gladdest bee;

There were the ware of [a] wight yeoman,
His body leaned to a tree.

A sword and a dagger he wore by his side,
Had beene many a mans bane,
And he was cladd in his capull-hyde,
Topp, and tayle, and mayne.

capull-hyde = horsehide

"Stand you still, master," quoth Litle John,
"Under this trusty tree,
And I will goe to yond wight yeomen,
To know his meaning trulye.'

trusty tree =
trysting tree

"A, John, by me thou sets noe store,
And that's a farley thinge;
How offt send I my men beffore,
And tarry my-selfe behinde?

farley = amazing

"It is noe cunning a knave to ken,
And a man but heare him speake;
And itt were not for bursting of my bowe,
John, I wold thy head breake"

But often words they breeden bale,
That parted Robin and John;
John is gone to Barnesdale,
The gates he knowes eche one.
gates = ways

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • what did Robin see in his dream? why did Little John urge him to ignore the dream?
  • what was the man in the forest wearing? what kind of weapons did he carry?
  • why did Robin and John quarrel with one another? where did Little John go?

Source: Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898). Weblink. There are additional notes online by Stephen Knight and Thomas H. Ohlgren: weblink.

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM