Robin Hood and þe Potter

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This is an Anglish translation of Robin Hood and the Potter, a tale written down around 1500 in the manuscript Cambridge E.e.4.35. I've taken liberties to make it more comprehensible and to keep some of the lines rhyming.

As a personal preference I have opted: to use ⟨eCe⟩ and ⟨oCe⟩ instead of ⟨ee⟩ and ⟨oo⟩; to use ⟨oCe⟩ instead of ⟨oa⟩; to use ⟨e⟩, ⟨eCe⟩, or ⟨aCe⟩ instead of ⟨ea⟩, depending on vowel quality; to allow magic-E to appear after more consonant clusters than is standard today. This means that green, moon, goat, head, mead, and great become grene, mone, gote, hed, mede, and grate.

The Writ


In summer, hƿen þe lefes spring,
Þe blossoms on efery buge,
So merry do þe birds sing
In ƿodes merry enue

Harken, gode geomen,
Cumly, kind, and gode,
One of þe best þat efer bore a boƿ
His name ƿas Robin Hode.

Robin Hode ƿas þe geomans name,
Hƿo ƿas boþ kind and free,
For þe luf of ure lady,
All ƿumen ƿorscipped he.

But as þe gode geoman stode one day,
Among his merry men free,
He ƿas aƿare of a prude potter,
Hƿo came drifing ofer þe lee.

"Geonder cums a prude potter," said Robin,
"Hƿo long has fared by ure feldes,
He ƿas nefer so kind a man
Not one penny for toll ƿuld he gelde."

"I met him at Ƿentbricg," said Littel John,
"May efil haf ƿiþ him its ƿay!
Þree strokes he me geafe,
Still to my sides clefe þey.

I stake forty scillings," said Littel John,
"I ƿill gefe it in hƿole,
To any man among us all
Hƿo can make him gelde þe toll."

"Here is forty scillings," said Robin,
"And more if þu dare say,
I scall ƿork þat prude potter,
A toll to me scall he lay."

Þe scillings ƿere set aside,
Under ƿac of geomen hy ƿere laid,
Robin bade þe potter stand still,
Hƿen before him Robin braid.

Hands upon his hors he laid,
And bade þe potter stand full still,
Þe potter scortly to him said,
"Felloƿ, hƿat is þy ƿill?"

"For þree geres and more, potter," Robin said,
"Þu hast fared by þis ƿay,
Get þu ƿere nefer so kind a man,
One penny of toll to lay."

"Hƿat is þy name," asked þe potter,
"For toll þu ask of me?"
"Robin Hode is my name,
A ƿed scall þu lefe me."

"A ƿed I ƿill not lefe," said þe potter,
"Nor toll ƿill I lay,
Aƿay þy hand from my hors,
Or I ƿill do þee efil, by my fay."

Þe potter to his crat he ƿent,
To þe back did he crepe,
A gode tƿohanded staff þere ute he hent,
Before Robin did he lepe.

Robin ute ƿiþ a sƿord bent,
A littel scelde in toƿ,
Þe potter to Robin ƿent,
And said, "Felloƿ, let my hors go."

Togeþer þen ƿent þese tƿo geomen,
It ƿas a gode sigt to see,
Þereof lauged Robins men,
Þere hy stode under a tree.

Littel John to his felloƿ he said,
"Geond potter ƿill stiffly stand"
Þe potter, ƿiþ an aƿkƿard stroke,
Smote þe littel scelde ute of his hand.

And ere Robin migt get it agen,
His littel scelde at his feet,
Þe potter in þe neck him toke,
To þe grunde sone he gede.

Þat Robins men did see,
As hy stode under a buge,
"Let us help ure lord," said Littel John,
"Els his liffe he may sluge."

Þese bold geomen ƿiþ a braid,
To her lord did hy run.
Littel John to his lord said,
"Hƿo has þe staking ƿon?"

"Scall I haf þy forty scillings," asked Littel John,
"Or ge, lord, scall haf mine?"
"If hy ƿere a hundred," said Robin
"I say, hy are all þine."

"It is full littel kindness," said þe potter,
"As I haf herd ƿise men say,
If an arm geoman cums drifing ofer þe land
And one lets him of his ƿay."

By my troþ, þu says soþe, said Robin,
"Þy ƿords are gode geomanhode,
And þu drife forþ efery day,
Be let by me þu nefer sculd."

"I ƿill ask þee, gode potter,
A felloƿscip ƿill þu haf?
Gefe me þy cloþing, and þu scalt haf mine,
I ƿill go to Nottingham."

"I fang þereto," said þe potter,
"Þu scalt find me a felloƿ gode,
But þu can sell my pots ƿell,
Cum agen as þu gede."

"Nay, by my troþ," said Robin,
"And þen I bescreƿ my hed,
If I bring any pots agen,
"And any ƿiffe ƿill em bye."

Þen spake Littel John,
And all his felloƿs hend,
"Lord, be ƿell aƿare of þe sceriff of Nottingham,
For he is littel ure frend."

"Þruge þe help of ure lady,
Felloƿs, let me alone.
Haþ ƿar ute!" said Robin
"To Nottingham ƿill I go.

Robin ƿent to Nottingham,
Þese pots for to sell,
Þe potter abode ƿiþ Robins men,
Þere he fered no efil.

Þoug Robin drofe on his ƿay,
So merry ofer þe land,
Here is more, and after is to say,
Þe best is behind.


Hƿen Robin came to Nottingham,
Þe soþe if I sculd say,
He set up his hors anon,
And geafe him otes and hay.

In þe midst of þe tune,
Þere he scoƿed his ƿare;
"Pots! Pots!" he scuted full sone,
"Haf hansel for þe mare!"

Rigt agenst þe sceriffs gate,
To sell godes did he dare,
Ƿifes and ƿidoƿs abute him dreƿ,
And many bougt fast his ƿare.

Still "Pots, grate cepe!" scuted Robin,
"I ƿuld hate to lefe þese to stand".
And all hƿo saƿ him sell,
Said he had bene no potter long.

Þe pots þat ƿere ƿorþ pens fife,
He sold þem for pens þree,
Dernly said man and ƿiffe,
"Geonder potter scall nefer þee."

Þose Robin sold full fast,
Until he had pots but fife,
Up he toke þem onto his crat
And sent þem to þe sceriffs ƿiffe.

Þereof sce ƿas full fain,
"Þanks," said sce, "ƿie, þen,
Hƿen ge cum to þis land agen,
I scall bye þe pots, so mut I þee.

Ge scall haf of þe best," said Robin,
And sƿare be þe Trinity".
Full kindly sce began to speke to him,
"Cum ete ƿiþ þe sceriff and me."

"God, mercy" said Robin,
"Geƿer bidding scall be done."
A maiden bore þe pots in,
Robin and þe sceriffs ƿiffe folloƿed anon.

Hƿen Robin into þe hall came,
Þe sceriff sone he met.
Þe potter kneƿ of hendness,
And sone þe sceriff he gret.

"Lo, ƿie, hƿat þis potter has gefen geƿ and me,
Fife pots small and grate!"
"He is full ƿelcum," said þe sceriff,
"Let us ƿasc, and to mete."

As hy sat at her mete,
In an aþel and glad mode,
Tƿo of þe sceriffs men began to speke
Of a grate stake.

Of a scoting mac, gode and fair,
Þat ƿas laid ute þe oþer day,
Of forty scillings, þe soþe to say,
Hƿo sculd þis stake gain.

Still sat þis prude potter,
Þus þen þougt he,
As I am a treƿ Cristen man,
Þis scoting ƿill I see.

Hƿen hy had fared of þe best,
Ƿiþ bred and ale and ƿine,
To þe markels hy made þem prest,
Ƿiþ boƿs and bolts full fain.

Þe sceriffs men scot full fast,
As boƿmen hƿos skill did scoƿ,
Þere came none nere her marks,
By half a gode scoters boƿ.

Still þen stode þe prude potter,
Þus þen said he,
"If I had a boƿ, by þe rode,
A treƿ scot ƿuld geƿ see."

"Þu scall haf a boƿ," said þe sceriff,
"Þe best þat þu ƿill cese of þree,
Þu semes stalƿard and strong,
Fant scall þu be."

Þe sceriff bade a geoman þat stode em by,
After boƿs to bring,
Þe best boƿ þat þe geoman brougt,
Robin set on a string.

"Nu scall I knoƿ if þu be any gode,
And pull it up to þy ere." said þe sceriff.
"So god me help," said þe prude potter,
"Þis is but rigt ƿeke gere."

To a cocker Robin ƿent,
A gode bolt ute he toke,
So nige on to þe mark he ƿent,
He missed not a fote.

Hy all scot a boƿ agen,
Þe sceriffs men and he,
Off þe mark he ƿuld not miss,
He cleft þe prick into þree.

Þe sceriffs men felt grate scame
Þe potter þe scoting mac ƿon
Þe sceriff lauged and made gode game
And said, "Potter, þu art a man.
Þu art ƿorþy to bare a boƿ
In any sted þat þu go."

"In my crat I haf a boƿ,
Forsoþe," he said, "one þat is gode.
In my crat is þe boƿ
Þat geafe me Robin Hode."

"Knoƿs þu Robin Hode?" asked þe sceriff,
"Potter, I bid geƿ tell me."
"A hundred macces I haf scot ƿiþ him,
Under his trysting tree."
"I ƿuld gelde up a hundred pundes," said þe sceriff,
And sƿare by þe trinity,
To haf þe ƿicked utelaƿ standing by me."

"And geƿ ƿill folloƿ my rede," said þe potter,
"And boldly go ƿiþ me,
And tomorroƿ, before ƿe ete bred,
Robin Hode ƿill ƿe see."

"I ƿill mede þee, said þe sceriff,
"I sƿare by God my lord."
Scoting hy stopped, and home hy ƿent,
Her days last mele ƿas on þe bord.


Upon þe morroƿ, hƿen it ƿas day,
He busked himself forþ to ride,
Þe potter his crat began to reddy,
And ƿuld not lefe behind.

He toke lefe of þe sceriffs ƿiffe,
And þanked her for eferyþing.
"Godeƿiffe, for my luf if geƿ ƿill þis ƿare,
I gefe geƿ here a golden ring."

"Þanks," said þe ƿiffe,
"Ƿie, God mede þee."
Þe sceriffs hart ƿas nefer so ligt,
Þe fair ƿold to see.

And hƿen he came in to þe ƿold,
Under þe lefes grene,
Birds þere sang on buges bold,
It ƿas grate ƿin to see.

"Here it is merry to be," said Robin,
"For a man þat had augt to spend,
By my horn geƿ scall aƿet
If Robin Hode be here."

Robin set his horn to his muþe,
And bleƿ a blast þat ƿas full gode,
Þat herd his men þat þere stode,
For dune in þe ƿold.
"I here my lord bloƿ," said Littel John,
Hy ran as if hy ƿere ƿode.

Hƿen hy to her lord came,
Littel John ƿuld not spar.
"Lord, hu haf geƿ fared in Nottingham?
Hu haf geƿ sold geƿer ƿare?"

"Geƿ, by my troþ, Littel John,
Loke þu, take no care,
I haf brougt þe sceriff of Nottingham
For all ure ceaffer."

"He is full ƿelcum," said Littel John,
"Þis tiding is full gode."
Þe sceriff ƿuld gelde a hundred pundes
To haf nefer sene Robin Hode.

"Had I knoƿn þat before,
At Nottingham hƿen ƿe ƿere,
Þu sculd not cum in fair ƿold
Of all þese þusand geres."

"Þat kneƿ I ƿell," said Robin,
"I þank God þat geƿ be here,
Þerefore scall geƿ lefe geƿer hors ƿiþ us,
And all geƿer oþer gere."

"Þat fende may God forbid,"
"So to lose my godes." said þe sceriff,
"Eiþer geƿ cum on hors full hige,
And home scall geƿ go on fote,
And grate ƿell þy ƿiffe at home,
Þe ƿuman is full gode."

"I scall her send a hƿite palfrey,
It treds as þe ƿind,
Ƿere it not for þe luf of geƿer ƿiffe
Of more sorroƿ sculd geƿ sing."

Þus fared aƿay Robin Hode and þe sceriff,
To Nottingham he toke þe ƿay,
His ƿiffe fair ƿelcummed him home,
And to him began to say:

"Ƿie, hu haf geƿ fared in grene ƿold?
Haf geƿ brougt Robin home?"
"Godeƿiffe, þe defil take him, boþ body and bone,
I haf had a full grate skorn."

"Of all þe godes þat I haf lade to grene ƿold,
He has taken it from me,
All but þese fair palfreys,
Þat he has sent to þee."

Ƿiþ þat sce toke up a lude lauging,
And sƿore by him þat died on a tree.
"Nu haf geƿ gelded for all þe pots
Þat Robin geafe to me.

"Nu geƿ haf cum home to Nottingham.
Geƿ scall haf gode enuge."
Nu speke ƿe of Robin Hode,
And of þe potter under þe grene buge.

"Potter, hƿat ƿere þy pots ƿorþ
To Nottingham þat I laid ƿiþ me?"
"Hy ƿere ƿorþ þirtene scillings," said he,
"So mut I þrife or þee,
So muc culd I haf had for þem,
If I had bene þere.

"Þu scall haf ten pundes," said Robin,
"Of scat fair and free,
And hƿenefer þu cumes to grene ƿold,
Ƿelcum, potter, to me."

Þus fared off Robin, þe sceriff, and þe potter,
Underneþe þe greneƿode tree.
God scoƿ mils to Robin Hodes soul,
And nere all gode geomanry.