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.

Beware: this article uses spellings which have had foreign influence reverted.

The Writ

FIT I

In summer, when þe leafs spring,
Þe blossoms on efery bue,
So merry do þe birds sing
In woods merry enue

Harken, good yeomen,
Comely, kind, and good,
One of þe best þat efer bore a bow
His name was Robin Hood.

Robin Hood was þe yeomans name,
Who was boþ kind and free,
For þe luf of ure lady,
All women worscipped he.

But as þe good yeoman stood one day,
Among his merry men free,
He was aware of a prude potter,
Who came drifing ofer þe lea.

"Yonder comes a prude potter," said Robin,
"Who long has fared by ure feelds,
He was nefer so kind a man
Not one penny for toll he'd yeeld."

"I met him at Wentbridge," said Littel John,
"May efil haf wiþ him its way!
Þree strokes he me gafe,
Still to my sides cleaf hy.

I stake forty scillings," said Littel John,
"I will yeaf it in whole,
To any man among us all
Who can make him yeeld þe toll."

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

Þe scillings were set aside,
Under wac of yeomen hy were laid,
Robin bade þe potter stand still,
When before him Robin braid.

Hands upon his hors he laid,
And bade þe potter stand full still,
Þe potter scortly to him said,
"Fellow, what is þy will?"

"For þree years and more, potter," Robin said,
"Þue hast fared by þis way,
Yet þue were nefer so kind a man,
One penny of toll to lay."

"What is þy name," asked þe potter,
"For toll þue ask of me?"
"Robin Hood is my name,
A wed scall þue leaf me."

"A wed I will not leaf," said þe potter,
"Nor toll will I lay,
Away þy hand from my hors,
Or I will do þee efil, by my fay."

Þe potter to his crat he went,
To þe back did he creep,
A good twohanded staff þere ute he hent,
Before Robin did he leap.

Robin ute wiþ a sword bent,
A sceeldock in tow,
Þe potter to Robin went,
And said, "Fellow, let my hors go."

Togeþer þen went þese two yeomen,
It was a good sight to see,
Þereof laughed Robins men,
Þere hy stood under a tree.

Littel John to his fellow he said,
"Yond potter will stiffly stand"
Þe potter, wiþ an awkward stroke,
Smote þe sceeldock ute of his hand.

And ere Robin might get it again,
His sceeldock at his feet,
Þe potter in þe neck him took,
To þe grund soon he yeed.

Þat Robins men did see,
As hy stood under a bue,
"Let us help ure lord," said Littel John,
"Els his life he may slugh."

Þese bold yeomen wiþ a braid,
To þeir lord did hy run.
Littel John to his lord said,
"Who has þe staking won?"

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

"It is full littel kindness," said þe potter,
"As I haf heard wise men say,
If an arm yeoman comes drifing ofer þe land
And one lets him of his way."

By my troþ, þue says sooþ, said Robin,
"Þy words are good yeomanhood,
And þue drife forþ efery day,
Be let by me þue nefer scold."

"I will ask þee, good potter,
A fellowscip will þue haf?
Yeaf me þy cloþing, and þue scalt haf mine,
I will go to Nottingham."

"I fang þereto," said þe potter,
"Þue scalt find me a fellow good,
But þue can sell my pots well,
Come ayen as þue yeed."

"Nay, by my troþ," said Robin,
"And þen I bescrew my head,
If I bring any pots ayen,
"And any wife will em buy."

Þen spake Littel John,
And all his fellows hend,
"Lord, be well aware of þe sceriff of Nottingham,
For he is littel ure frend."

"Þro þe help of ure lady,
Fellows, let me alone.
Haþ war ute!" said Robin
"To Nottingham will I go.

Robin went to Nottingham,
Þese pots for to sell,
Þe potter abode wiþ Robins men,
Þere he feared no efil.

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

FIT II

When Robin came to Nottingham,
Þe sooþ if I scold say,
He set up his hors anon,
And gafe him oats and hay.

In þe midst of þe tune,
Þere he scowed his ware;
"Pots! Pots!" he scuted full soon,
"Haf hansel for þe mare!"

Right against þe sceriffs gate,
To sell goods did he dare,
Wifes and widows abute him drew,
And many bought fast his ware.

Still "Pots, great ceap!" scuted Robin,
"I wold hate to leaf þese to stand".
And all who saw him sell,
Said he had been no potter long.

Þe pots þat were worþ pens fife,
He sold þem for pens þree,
Dernly said man and wife,
"Yonder 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 wife.

Þereof sce was full fain,
"Gramercy," said sce, "wie, þen,
When ye come to þis land ayen,
I scall buy þe pots, so mot I þee.

Ye scall haf of þe best," said Robin,
And sware be þe Trinity".
Full kindly sce began to speak to him,
"Come eat wiþ þe sceriff and me."

"God, mercy" said Robin,
"Yewer bidding scall be done."
A maiden bore þe pots in,
Robin and þe sceriffs wife followed anon.

When Robin into þe hall came,
Þe sceriff soon he met.
Þe potter knew of hendness,
And soon þe sceriff he gret.

"Lo, wie, what þis potter haþ yeafen yew and me,
Fife pots small and great!"
"He is full welcome," said þe sceriff,
"Let us wasc, and to meat."

As hy sat at þeir meat,
In an aþel and glad mood,
Two of þe sceriffs men began to speak
Of a great stake.

Of a scooting mac, good and fair,
Þat was laid ute þe oþer day,
Of forty scillings, þe sooþ to say,
Who scold þis stake gain.

Still sat þis prude potter,
Þus þen þout he,
As I am a trew Cristen man,
Þis scooting will I see.

When hy had fared of þe best,
Wiþ bread and ale and wine,
To þe markels hy made þem prest,
Wiþ bows and bolts full fain.

Þe sceriffs men scot full fast,
As bowmen þat were prow,
Þere came none near þeir marks,
By half a good scooters bow.

Still þen stood þe prude potter,
Þus þen said he,
"If I had a bow, by þe rood,
A trew scot wold yew see."

"Þue scall haf a bow," said þe sceriff,
"Þe best þat þue will cees of þree,
Þue seemst stalward and strong,
Fant scall þue be."

Þe sceriff bade a yeoman þat stood em by,
After bows to bring,
Þe best bow þat þe yeoman brought,
Robin set on a string.

"Nue scall I know if þue be any good,
And pull it up to þy ear." said þe sceriff.
"So god me help," said þe prude potter,
"Þis is but right weak gear."

To a cocker Roben went,
A good bolt ute he took,
So nie on to þe mark he went,
He missed not a foot.

Hy all scot a bow again,
Þe sceriffs men and he,
Off þe mark he wold not miss,
He cleft þe prick into þree.

Þe sceriffs men felt great scame
Þe potter þe scooting mac won
Þe sceriff laught and made good game
And said, "Potter, þue art a man.
Þue art worþy to bear a bow
In any stead þat þue go."

"In my crat I haf a bow,
For sooþ," he said, "one þat is good.
In my crat is þe bow
Þat gafe me Robin Hood."

"Knowest þue Robin Hood?" asked þe sceriff,
"Potter, I bid yew tell me."
"A hundred macces I haf scot wiþ him,
Under his trysting tree."
"I had lefer nar a hundred punds," said þe sceriff,
And sware by þe trinity,
Þat þe wicked utelaw stood by me."

"And yew will follow my rede," said þe potter,
"And boldly go wiþ me,
And tomorrow, before we eat bread,
Robin Hood will we see."

"I will meed þee, said þe sceriff,
"I swear by God my lord."
Scooting hy stopped, and home hy went,
Hir day's last meal was on þe board.

FIT III

Upon þe morrow, when it was day,
He busked himself forþ to ride,
Þe potter his crat began to ready,
And wold not leaf behind.

He took leaf of þe sceriffs wife,
And þanked her for eferyþing.
"Goodwife, for my luf if yew will þis wear,
I yeaf yew here a golden ring."

"Gramarsey," said þe wife,
"Wie, God meed þee."
Þe sceriffs heart was nefer so light,
Þe fair wold to see.

And when he came in to þe wold,
Under þe leafs green,
Birds þere sang on bues bold,
It was great win to see.

"Here it is merry to be," said Robin,
"For a man þat had awt to spend,
By my horn yew scall awet
If Robin Hood be here."

Robin set his horn to his muþe,
And blew a blast þat was full good,
Þat heard his men þat þere stood,
For dune in þe wold.
"I hear my lord blow," said Littel John,
Hy ran as if hy were wood.

When hy to þeir lord came,
Littel John wold not spar.
"Lord, hue haf yew fared in Nottingham?
Hue haf yew sold yewer ware?"

"Yew, by my troþ, Littel John,
Look þue, take no care,
I haf brought þe sceriff of Nottingham
For all ure ceaffer."

"He is full welcome," said Littel John,
"Þis tiding is full good."
Þe sceriff had lefer nar a hundred punds
He had nefer seen Robin Hood.

"Had I known þat before,
At Nottingham when we were,
Þue scold not come in fair wold
Of all þese þusand years."

"Þat knew I well," said Robin,
"I þank God þat yew be here,
Þerefore scall yew leaf yewer hors wiþ us,
And all yewer oþer gear."

"Þat feend may God forbid,"
"So to lose my goods." said þe sceriff,
"Eiþer yew come on hors full high,
And home scall yew go on foot,
And great well þy wife at home,
Þe woman is full good."

"I scall her send a white palfrey,
It treads as þe wind,
Were it not for þe luf of yewer wife
Of more sorrow scold yew sing."

Þus fared away Robin Hood and þe sceriff,
To Nottingham he took þe way,
His wife fair welcomed him home,
And to him began to say:

"Wie, hue haf yew fared in green wold?
Hafe yew brought Robin home?"
"Goodwife, 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 wold,
He haþ taken it from me,
All but þese fair palfreys,
Þat he haþ sent to þee."

Wiþ þat sce took up a lude laughing,
And swore by him þat died on a tree.
"Nue haf yew yeelded for all þe pots
Þat Robin gafe to me.

"Nue yew haf come home to Nottingham.
Yew scall haf good enue."
Nue speak we of Robin Hood,
And of þe potter under þe green bue.

"Potter, what were þy pots worþ
To Nottingham þat I laid wiþ me?"
"Hy were worþ þirteen scillings," said he,
"So mot I þrife or þee,
So muc cud I haf had for þem,
If I had been þere.

"Þue scall haf ten punds," said Robin,
"Of scat fair and free,
And whenefer þue comest to green wold,
Welcome, potter, to me."

Þus fared off Robin, þe sceriff, and þe potter,
Underneaþ þe greenwood tree.
God scow mils to Robin Hoods soul,
And near all good yeomanry.