Robin Hood and þe Potter
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.
In summer, hƿen þe leafs spring,
Þe blossoms on efery buge,
So merry do þe birds sing
In ƿoods merry enue
Harken, good geomen,
Cumly, kind, and good,
One of þe best þat efer bore a boƿ
His name ƿas Robin Hood.
Robin Hood ƿas þe geomans name,
Hƿo ƿas boþ kind and free,
For þe luf of ure lady,
All ƿumen ƿorscipped he.
But as þe good geoman stood 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 feelds,
He ƿas nefer so kind a man
Not one penny for toll ƿuld he geeld."
"I met him at Ƿentbricg," said Littel John,
"May efil haf ƿiþ him its ƿay!
Þree strokes he me geafe,
Still to my sides cleaf þey.
I stake forty scillings," said Littel John,
"I ƿill gefe it in hƿole,
To any man among us all
Hƿo can make him geeld 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 Hood is my name,
A ƿed scall þu leaf me."
"A ƿed I ƿill not leaf," 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 creep,
A good tƿohanded staff þere ute he hent,
Before Robin did he leap.
Robin ute ƿiþ a sƿord bent,
A littel sceeld in toƿ,
Þe potter to Robin ƿent,
And said, "Felloƿ, let my hors go."
Togeþer þen ƿent þese tƿo geomen,
It ƿas a good sigt to see,
Þereof lauged Robins men,
Þere hy stood under a tree.
Littel John to his felloƿ he said,
"Geond potter ƿill stiffly stand"
Þe potter, ƿiþ an aƿkƿard stroke,
Smote þe littel sceeld ute of his hand.
And ere Robin migt get it agen,
His littel sceeld at his feet,
Þe potter in þe neck him took,
To þe grund sone he geed.
Þat Robins men did see,
As hy stood under a buge,
"Let us help ure lord," said Littel John,
"Els his life 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 sooþ, said Robin,
"Þy ƿords are good geomanhood,
And þu drife forþ efery day,
Be let by me þu nefer sculd."
"I ƿill ask þee, good 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 good,
But þu can sell my pots ƿell,
Cum agen as þu geed."
"Nay, by my troþ," said Robin,
"And þen I bescreƿ my head,
If I bring any pots agen,
"And any ƿife 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 sooþ if I sculd say,
He set up his hors anon,
And geafe him oats 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 goods did he dare,
Ƿifes and ƿidoƿs abute him dreƿ,
And many bougt fast his ƿare.
Still "Pots, great ceep!" scuted Robin,
"I ƿuld hate to leaf þese to stand".
And all hƿo saƿ him sell,
Said he had been no potter long.
Þe pots þat ƿere ƿorþ pens fife,
He sold þem for pens þree,
Dernly said man and ƿife,
"Geonder potter scall nefer þee."
Þose Robin sold full fast,
Until he had pots but fife,
Up he took þem onto his crat
And sent þem to þe sceriffs ƿife.
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 speak to him,
"Cum eat ƿiþ þe sceriff and me."
"God, mercy" said Robin,
"Geƿer bidding scall be done."
A maiden bore þe pots in,
Robin and þe sceriffs ƿife 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 great!"
"He is full ƿelcum," said þe sceriff,
"Let us ƿasc, and to meat."
As hy sat at her meat,
In an aþel and glad mood,
Tƿo of þe sceriffs men began to speak
Of a great stake.
Of a scooting mac, good and fair,
Þat ƿas laid ute þe oþer day,
Of forty scillings, þe sooþ to say,
Hƿo sculd þis stake gain.
Still sat þis prude potter,
Þus þen þougt he,
As I am a treƿ Cristen man,
Þis scooting ƿill I see.
Hƿen hy had fared of þe best,
Ƿiþ bread and ale and ƿine,
To þe pricks 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 good scooters boƿ.
Still þen stood þe prude potter,
Þus þen said he,
"If I had a boƿ, by þe rood,
A treƿ scot ƿuld geƿ see."
"Þu scall haf a boƿ," said þe sceriff,
"Þe best þat þu ƿill cese of þree,
Þu seems stalƿard and strong,
Fant scall þu be."
Þe sceriff bade a geoman þat stood 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 good,
And pull it up to þy ere." said þe sceriff.
"So god me help," said þe prude potter,
"Þis is but rigt ƿeek gere."
To a cocker Robin ƿent,
A good bolt ute he took,
So nige on to þe mark he ƿent,
He missed not a foot.
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 great scame
Þe potter þe scooting mac ƿon
Þe sceriff lauged and made good game
And said, "Potter, þu art a man.
Þu art ƿorþy to bare a boƿ
In any stead þat þu go."
"In my crat I haf a boƿ,
Forsooþ," he said, "one þat is good.
In my crat is þe boƿ
Þat geafe me Robin Hood."
"Knoƿs þu Robin Hood?" asked þe sceriff,
"Potter, I bid geƿ tell me."
"A hundred macces I haf scot ƿiþ him,
Under his trysting tree."
"I ƿuld geeld up a hundred punds," said þe sceriff,
And sƿare by þe trinity,
To haf þe ƿicked utelaƿ standing by me."
"And geƿ ƿill folloƿ my read," said þe potter,
"And boldly go ƿiþ me,
And tomorroƿ, before ƿe eat bread,
Robin Hood ƿill ƿe see."
"I ƿill meed þee, said þe sceriff,
"I sƿare by God my lord."
Scooting hy stopped, and home hy ƿent,
Her days last meal 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 leaf behind.
He took leaf of þe sceriffs ƿife,
And þanked her for eferyþing.
"Goodƿife, for my luf if geƿ ƿill þis ƿare,
I gefe geƿ here a golden ring."
"Þanks," said þe ƿife,
"Ƿie, God meed þee."
Þe sceriffs hart ƿas nefer so ligt,
Þe fair ƿold to see.
And hƿen he came in to þe ƿold,
Under þe leafs green,
Birds þere sang on buges bold,
It ƿas great 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 Hood be here."
Robin set his horn to his muþe,
And bleƿ a blast þat ƿas full good,
Þat herd his men þat þere stood,
For dune in þe ƿold.
"I here my lord bloƿ," said Littel John,
Hy ran as if hy ƿere ƿood.
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 good."
Þe sceriff ƿuld geeld a hundred punds
To haf nefer seen Robin Hood.
"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 leaf geƿer hors ƿiþ us,
And all geƿer oþer gere."
"Þat feend may God forbid,"
"So to lose my goods." said þe sceriff,
"Eiþer geƿ cum on hors full hige,
And home scall geƿ go on foot,
And great ƿell þy ƿife at home,
Þe ƿuman is full good."
"I scall her send a hƿite palfrey,
It treds as þe ƿind,
Ƿere it not for þe luf of geƿer ƿife
Of more sorroƿ sculd geƿ sing."
Þus fared aƿay Robin Hood and þe sceriff,
To Nottingham he took þe ƿay,
His ƿife fair ƿelcummed him home,
And to him began to say:
"Ƿie, hu haf geƿ fared in green ƿold?
Haf geƿ brougt Robin home?"
"Goodƿife, þe defil take him, boþ body and bone,
I haf had a full great skorn."
"Of all þe goods þat I haf lade to green ƿold,
He has taken it from me,
All but þese fair palfreys,
Þat he has sent to þee."
Ƿiþ þat sce took up a lude lauging,
And sƿore by him þat died on a tree.
"Nu haf geƿ geelded for all þe pots
Þat Robin geafe to me.
"Nu geƿ haf cum home to Nottingham.
Geƿ scall haf good enuge."
Nu speak ƿe of Robin Hood,
And of þe potter under þe green buge.
"Potter, hƿat ƿere þy pots ƿorþ
To Nottingham þat I laid ƿiþ me?"
"Hy ƿere ƿorþ þirteen scillings," said he,
"So mut I þrife or þee,
So muc culd I haf had for þem,
If I had been þere.
"Þu scall haf ten punds," said Robin,
"Of scat fair and free,
And hƿenefer þu cumes to green ƿold,
Ƿelcum, potter, to me."
Þus fared off Robin, þe sceriff, and þe potter,
Underneaþ þe greenƿood tree.
God scoƿ mils to Robin Hoods soul,
And nere all good geomanry.