Ballads Of Robin Hood
Robin Hood and the Valiant Knight (Child Ballad 153)
Robin fights with a knight in the employ of the sheriff. He is taken ill after the fight and a monk bleeds him to death
WHEN Robin Hood, and his merry men all,
Derry, down, down
Had reigned many years,
The king was then told they had been too bold
To his bishops and noble peers.
Hey, down, derry, derry, down.
Therefore they called a council of state,
To know what was best to be done
For to quell their pride, or else, they reply’d,
The land would be over-run.
Having consulted a whole summers day,
At length it was agreed
That one should be sent to try the event,
And fetch him away with speed.
Therefore a trusty and worthy knight
The king was pleasd to call,
Sir William by name; when to him he came,
He told him his pleasure all.
‘Go you from hence to bold Robin Hood,
And bid him, without more a-do,
Surrender himself, or else the proud elf
Shall suffer with all his crew.
‘Take here a hundred bowmen brave,
All chosen men of might,
Of excellent art for to take thy part,
In glittering armour bright.’
Then said the knight, My sovereign liege,
By me they shall be led;
I’ll venture my blood against bold Robin Hood,
And bring him alive or dead.
One hundred men were chosen straight,
As proper as eer men saw;
On Midsummer-day the marched away,
To conquer that brave outlaw.
With long yew bows and shining spears,
They marchd in mickle pride,
And never delayd, or halted, or stayd,
Till they came to the greenwood-side.
Said he to his archers, Tarry here;
Your bows make ready all,
That, if need should be, you may follow me;
And see you observe my call.
‘I’ll go in person first,’ he cry’d,
‘With the letters of my good king,
Both signd and seald, and if he will yield,
We need not draw one string.’
He wanderd about till at length he came
To the tent of Robin Hood;
The letter he shews; bold Robin arose,
And there on his guard he stood.
‘They’d have me surrender,’ quoth bold Robin Hood,
‘And lie at their mercy then;
But tell them from me, that never shall be,
While I have full seven-score men.’
Sir William the knight, both hardy and bold,
Did offer to seize him there,
Which William Locksly by fortune did see,
And bid him that trick forbear.
Then Robin Hood set his horn to his mouth,
And blew a blast or twain,
And so did the knight, at which there in sight
The archers came all amain.
Sir William with care he drew up his men,
And plac’d them in battle array;
Bold Robin, we find, he was not behind;
Now this was a bloody fray.
The archers on both sides bent their bows,
And the clouds of arrows flew;
The very first flight, that honoured knight
Did there bid the world adieu.
Yet nevertheless their fight did last
From morning till almost noon;
Both parties were stout, and loath to give out;
This was on the last day of June.
At length they went off; one part they went
To London with right good will;
And Robin Hood he to the green-wood tree,
And there he was taken ill.
He sent for a monk, who let him blood,
And took his life away;
Now this being done, his archers they run,
It was not a time to stay.
Some got on board and crossd the seas,
To Flanders, France, and Spain,
And others to Rome, for fear of their doom,
But soon returnd again.
Thus he that never feard bow nor spear
Was murderd by letting of blood;
And so, loving friends, the story doth end
Of valiant bold Robin Hood.
There’s nothing remains but his epitaph now,
Which, reader, here you have;
To this very day, and read it you may,
As it was upon his grave.
Epitaph on Robin’s Grave
Robin, Earl of Huntington,
Lies under this little stone.
No archer was like him so good;
His wildness nam’d him Robin Hood.
Full thirteen years, and something more,
These northern parts he vexed sore.
Such outlaws as he and his men
May England never know again!