You are probably familiar
with the legend of Robin
Hood - and you probably think that he is a loyal
follower of King Richard, a nobleman in disguise, fighting
for justice under the cruel rule of King John, robbing from
the rich only in order to give to the poor, and snuggling
up with Maid Marian out in Sherwood Forest. Well, these are
all later additions to the Robin Hood story - in this unit,
you will get to know the old Robin Hood of the medieval tradition,
a trickster, an outlawed criminal, dangerous and daring. He
does what he does for his own pleasure - far more of a rebel
and a hoodlum than a genteel nobleman. After reading a 1950's
comic book based on the modern romantic notions of Robin,
you will read the old English ballads that take you way back
towards the very beginnings of the Robin Hood legend. Here
are some quotes:
'You said I was no archer,' said Robin Hood,
'But say so now again;'
With that he sent another arrow
That split his head in twain.
'You have found mee an archer,' saith Robin Hood,
'Which will make your wives to wring,
And wish that you had never spoke the word,
That I could not draw one string.'
Robin Hood he took then the old Bishop's hand,
Derry, derry, down!
And led him to gay Barnsdale,
And made him sup at his board that night,
Where they drank wine, beer, and ale.
Derry down! Hey! Derry, derry, down!
'Lay me a green sod under my head,
And another at my feet;
And lay my bent bow by my side,
Which was my music sweet.
And make my grave of gravel and green,
Which is most right and meet.
'Let me have length and breadth enough,
Down a down a down a down
With a green sod under my head;
That they may say, when I am dead
Here lies bold Robin Hood.'
Hey down a derry derry down.
Arthur is one of the best-known figures of European
legend, and you probably know at least some King Arthur stories
already - even if it's just Monty
Python and the Holy Grail (yes, one of the greatest movies
of all time). The King Arthur legend dates back to at least
around the year 600 AD, and the selections this week are taken
from the famus Le Morte d'Arthur, written by Sir
Thomas Malory in the 15th century. The version here has modernized
English spelling, but it is still some very old-fashioned
English - over a hundred years before Shakespeare...! You
will be reading Book 4, which contains the story of Morgan
Le Fay's plot against Arthur and the story of Pelleas, Gawaine
and Lady Ettard, along with other adventures. Here are some
And anon they fell asleep, and slept marvellously sore
all the night. And on the morrow King Uriens was in Camelot
abed in his wife's arms, Morgan le Fay. And when he awoke
he had great marvel, how he came there, for on the even afore
he was two days' journey from Camelot. And when King Arthur
awoke he found himself in a dark prison, hearing about him
many complaints of woful knights.
Anon the damosel brought Morgan the sword with quaking
hands, and she lightly took the sword, and pulled it out,
and went boldly unto the bed's side, and awaited how and
where she might slay him best. And as she lifted up the
sword to smite, Sir Uwaine leapt unto his mother, and caught
her by the hand, and said, Ah, fiend, what wilt thou do?
An thou wert not my mother, with this sword I should smite
off thy head.
And there he was in great peril, for the giant was a
wily fighter, but at last Sir Marhaus smote off his right
arm above the elbow. Then the giant fled and the knight after
him, and so he drove him into a water, but the giant was so
high that he might not wade after him. And then Sir Marhaus
made the Earl Fergus' man to fetch him stones, and with those
stones the knight gave the giant many sore knocks, till at
the last he made him fall down into the water, and so was
he there dead.