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.

https://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/robin-hood-and-the-potter

The Writ

FIT I

In summer, hƿen þe leafs spring,
Þe blossoms on eferig buge,
So merrig do þe birds sing
In ƿoods merrig enue

Hearken, good geomen,
Cumlig, kind, and good,
One of þe best þat efer bore a boƿ
His name ƿas Robin Hood.

Robin Hood ƿas þe geoman's name,
Hƿo ƿas boð kind and free,
For þe luf of ure ladig,
All ƿumen ƿorscipped he.

But as þe good geoman stood one dag,
Among his merrig men free,
He ƿas aƿare of a prude potter,
Hƿo came drifing ofer þe lee.

"Geonder cums a prude potter," saged Robin,
"Hƿo long has fared bi ure fields,
He ƿas nefer so kind a man
Not one pennig for toll ƿuld he gield."

"I met him at Ƿentbricg," saged Littel John,
"Mag efil haf ƿið him its ƿag!
Þree strokes he me gafe,
Still to mi sides cleaf þeg.

I stake fortig scillings," saged Littel John,
"I ƿill gif it in hƿole,
To anig man among us all
Hƿo can make him gield þe toll."

"Here is fortig scillings," saged Robin,
"And more if þu dare sag,
I scall ƿork þat prude potter,
A toll to me scall he lag."

Þe scillings ƿere set aside,
Under ƿac of geomen þeg ƿere laged,
Robin bade þe potter stand still,
Hƿen before him Robin braged.

Hands upon his hors he laged,
And bade þe potter stand full still,
Þe potter scortlig to him saged,
"Felloƿ, hƿat is þi ƿill?"

"For þree geres and more, potter," Robin saged,
"Þu hast fared bi þis ƿag,
Get þu ƿere nefer so kind a man,
One pennig of toll to lag."

"Hƿat is þi name," asked þe potter,
"For toll þu ask of me?"
"Robin Hood is mi name,
A ƿed scall þu leaf me."

"A ƿed I ƿill not leafe," saged þe potter,
"Nor toll ƿill I lag,
Aƿag þi hand from mi horse,
Or I ƿill do þee efil, I do sag."

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 ƿið a sƿord bent,
A littel scield in toƿ,
Þe potter to Robin ƿent,
And saged, "Felloƿ, let mi horse go."

Togeðer þen ƿent þese tƿo geomen,
It ƿas a good sigt to see,
Þereof lauged Robin's men,
Þere þeg stood under a tree.

Littel John to his felloƿ he saged,
"Geond potter ƿill stifflig stand"
Þe potter, ƿið an aƿkƿard stroke,
Smote þe littel scield ute of his hand.

And ere Robin migt get it agen,
His littel scield at his feet,
Þe potter in þe neck him took,
To þe grund sone he geed.

Þat Robin's men did see,
As þeg stood under a buge,
"Let us help ure lord," saged Littel John,
"Else his life he mag sluge."

Þese bold geomen ƿið a bragd,
To þeger lord did þeg run.
Littel John to his lord saged,
"Hƿo has þe staking ƿon?"

"Scall I haf þi fortig scillings," asked Littel John,
"Or ge, lord, scall haf mine?"
"If þeg ƿere a hundred," saged Robin
"I sag, þeg are all þine."

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

Bi mi treƿð, þu sags sooð, saged Robin,
"Þi ƿords are good geomanhood,
And þu drife forð eferig dag,
Be let bi me þu nefer sculd."

"I ƿill ask þee, good potter,
A felloƿscip ƿill þu haf?
Gif me þi cloðing, and þu scalt haf mine,
I ƿill go to Nottingham."

"I fang þereto," saged þe potter,
"Þu scalt find me a felloƿ good,
But þu can sell mi pots ƿell,
Cum agagn as þu geed."

"Nag, bi mi treƿð," saged Robin,
"And þen I bescreƿ mi head,
If I bring anig pots agen,
"And anig ƿife ƿill þem bie."

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 ladig,
Felloƿs, let me alone.
Hað ƿar ute!" saged Robin
"To Nottingham ƿill I go.

Robin ƿent to Nottingham,
Þese pots for to sell,
Þe potter abode ƿið Robin's men,
Þere he fered no efil.

Þoug Robin drofe on his ƿag,
So merrig ofer þe land,
Here is more, and after is to sag,
Þe best is behind.

FIT II

Hƿen Robin came to Nottingham,
Þe sooð if I sculd sag,
He set up his horse anon,
And gaf him oats and hag.

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 sceriff's gate,
To sell goods did he dare,
Ƿifes and ƿidoƿs abute him dreƿ,
And manig bougt fast his ƿare.

Still "Pots, great ceep!" scuted Robin,
"I ƿuld hate to leaf þese to stand".
And all hƿo saƿ him sell,
Saged he had been no potter long.

Þe pots þat ƿere ƿorð pens fife,
He sold þem for pens þree,
Dernlig saged 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 sceriff's ƿife.

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

Ge scall haf of þe best," saged Robin,
And sƿare be þe Triniti".
Full kindlig sce began to speak to him,
"Cum eat ƿið þe sceriff and me."

"God, merci" saged Robin,
"Þi bidding scall be done."
A magden bore þe pots in,
Robin and þe sceriff's 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 gifen þee and me,
Fife pots small and great!"
"He is full ƿelcum," saged þe sceriff,
"Let us ƿasc, and to meat."

As þeg sat at þeger meat,
In an aðel and glad mood,
Tƿo of þe sceriff's men began to speak
Of a great stake.

Of a scooting mac, good and fager,
Þat ƿas laged ute þe oðer dag,
Of fortig scillings, þe sooð to sag,
Hƿo sculd þis stake gagn.

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

Hƿen þeg had fared of þe best,
Ƿið bread and ale and ƿine,
To þe pricks þeg made þem prest,
Ƿið boƿs and bolts full fagn.

Þe sceriff's men scot full fast,
As boƿmen hƿos skill did scoƿ,
Þere came none nere þeger marks,
Bi half a good scooters boƿ.

Still þen stood þe prude potter,
Þus þen saged he,
"If I had a boƿ, bi þe rood,
A treƿ scot ƿuld þu see."

"Þu scall haf a boƿ," saged 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 þem bi,
After boƿs to bring,
Þe best boƿ þat þe geoman brougt,
Robin set on a string.

"Nu scall I knoƿ if þu be anig good,
And pull it up to þi ere." saged þe sceriff.
"So god me help," saged 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.

Þeg all scot a boƿ agen,
Þe sceriff's men and he,
Off þe mark he ƿuld not miss,
He cleft þe prick into þree.

Þe sceriff's men felt great scame
Þe potter þe scooting mac ƿon
Þe sceriff lauged and made good game
And saged, "Potter, þu art a man.
Þu art ƿorðig to bare a boƿ
In anig stead þat þu go."

"In mi crat I haf a boƿ,
Forsooð," he saged, "one þat is good.
In mi crat is þe boƿ
Þat gafe me Robin Hood."

"Knoƿs þu Robin Hood?" asked þe sceriff,
"Potter, I bid þu tell me."
"A hundred macces I haf scot ƿið him,
Under his trusting tree ."
"I ƿuld gield up a hundred punds," saged þe sceriff,
And sƿare bi þe triniti,
To haf þe ƿicked utelaƿ standing bi me."

"And þu ƿill folloƿ mi read," saged þe potter,
"And boldlig go ƿið me,
And tomorroƿ, before ƿe eat bread,
Robin Hood ƿill ƿe see."

"I ƿill meed þee, saged þe sceriff,
"I sƿare bi God mi lord."
Scooting þeg stopped, and home þeg ƿent,
Þeger dags last meal ƿas on þe bord.

FIT III

Upon þe morroƿ, hƿen it ƿas dag,
He busked himself forð to ride,
Þe potter his crat began to readig,
And ƿuld not leaf behind.

He took leafe of þe sceriff's ƿife,
And þanked her for eferigþing.
"Goodƿife, for mi luf if þu ƿill þis ƿare,
I gif þee here a golden ring."

"Þanks," saged þe ƿife,
"Ƿie, God meed þee."
Þe sceriff's heart ƿas nefer so ligt,
Þe fager 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 merrig to be," saged Robin,
"For a man þat had augt to spend,
Bi mi horn þu scall aƿet
If Robin Hood be here."

Robin set his horn to his muðe,
And bleƿ a blast þat ƿas full good,
Þat herd his men þat þere stood,
For dune in þe ƿold.
"I here mi lord bloƿ," saged Littel John,
Þeg ran as if þeg ƿere ƿood.

Hƿen þeg to þeger lord came,
Littel John ƿuld not spar.
"Lord, hu has þu fared in Nottingham?
Hu has þu sold þi ƿare?"

"Þu, bi mi troð, Littel John,
Look þu, take no care,
I haf brougt þe sceriff of Nottingham
For all ure ceaffer."

"He is full ƿelcum," saged Littel John,
"Þis tiding is full good."
Þe sceriff ƿuld gield a hundred punds
To haf nefer seen Robin Hood.

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

"Þat kneƿ I ƿell," saged Robin,
"I þank God þat þu be here,
Þerefore scall þu leafe þi horse ƿið us,
And all þi oðer gere."

"Þat fiend mag God forbid,"
"So to lose mi goods." saged þe sceriff,
"Egðer þu cums on horse full hige,
And home scall þu go on foot,
And great ƿell þi 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 þi ƿife
Of more sorroƿ sculd þu sing."

Þus fared aƿag Robin Hood and þe sceriff,
To Nottingham he took þe ƿag,
His ƿife fager ƿelcummed him home,
And to him began to sag:

"Ƿie, hu has þu fared in green ƿold?
Has þu brougt Robin home?"
"Goodƿife, þe defil take him, boð bodig 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 fager palfreys,
Þat he has sent to þee."

Ƿið þat sce took up a lude lauging,
And sƿore bi him þat died on a tree.
"Nu has þu gielded for all þe pots
Þat Robin gafe to me.

"Nu þu has cum home to Nottingham.
Þu scall haf good enuge."
Nu speak ƿe of Robin Hood,
And of þe potter under þe green buge.

"Potter, hƿat ƿere þi pots ƿorð
To Nottingham þat I laged ƿið me?"
"Þeg ƿere ƿorð þirteen scillings," saged he,
"So must I þrife or þee,
So muc culd I haf had for þem,
If I had been þere.

"Þu scall haf ten punds," saged Robin,
"Of scat fager and free,
And hƿenefer þu cums to green ƿold,
Ƿelcum, potter, to me."

Þus fared off Robin, þe sceriff, and þe potter,
Underneað þe greenƿood tree.
God scoƿ milse to Robin Hood's soul,
And nere all geoman free.