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American Text of "Robin Hood and Little John"


American Text of "Robin Hood and Little John"

by: Louise Pound (Author)
from: American Speech (P. 75)  November 1926

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Duke University Press; journal copyright held by the American Dialect Society.
Robin Hood ballads have not often found their way into oral survival in the United States. The following text of a ballad concerning Robin Hood and Little John cannot be traced back very far. It is contributed by Marianna Cummings of Lincoln, Nebraska, as she heard it sung by her grand-mother, Frances Hayden Cummings, who learned it in her girlhood in Kentucky. It deserves preservation, however it may have reached Kentucky, because of the interest of Robin Hood ballads and their stories and variant texts.
When Robin Hood was about eighteen years old
  He chanced to meet Little John,
A jolly brisk blade just fit for his trade
  For he was a sturdy young man.
Altho he was little his limbs they were large,
  His stature was seven feet high.
Wherever he came he soon quickened his name
  And presently caused them to fly.
One day these two met on a long narrow bridge,
  And neither of them would give way,
When Robin stepped up to the stranger and said,
  "I'll show you brave Nottingham play."
"You speak like a coward," the stranger, he said,
  "As there with your long-bow you stand;
I vow and protest you may shoot at my breast
  While I have but a staff in my hand."
"The name of a coward," said Robin, "I scorn,
  And so my long-bow I lay by
And then for your sake a staff I will take
  The strength of your manhood to try."
Then Robin he stepped out into a grove
  And pulled up a staff of green oak,
And this being done straight back he did come,
  And thus to the stranger he spoke:
"Behold thou my staff, it is lusty and tough,
  On this long narrow bridge let us play;
Then he who falls in, the other shall win
  The battle and then we'll away."
Then Robin hit the stranger a crack on the crown
  That caused the blood to appear
And thus so enraged they more closely engaged
  And laid on the blows most severe.
The stranger gave Robin a crack on the crown
  That was a most terrible stroke,
The very next blow laid Robin below
  And tumbled him into the brook.
"Oh where are you now?" the stranger he cried;
  With a hearty laugh in reply,
"Oh, faith, in the flood" quoth bold Robin Hood,
  "And floating away with the tide."
Then Robin he waded all out of the deep
  And pulled himself up by a thorn,
Then just at the last he blew a loud blast
  So merrily on his bugle horn.
The hills they did echo, the valleys did ring
  Which caused his gay men to appear,
All dressed in green most fair to be seen
  Straight up to the master they steer.
"What aileth thee, master?" quoth William Stutely,
  "You seem to be wet to the skin."
"No matter," quoth he, "This villain you see
  In fighting hath tumbled me in."
"We'll pluck out his eyes and duck him likewise,"
  Then seized they the stranger right there,
"Nay, let him go free," quoth bold Robin Hood,
  "For he's a brave fellow. Forbear!
"Cheer up jolly blade and don't be afraid
  Of all these gay men that you see,
There are four-score and nine and if you will be mine
  You may wear of my own liverie."
A brace of fat deer was quickly brought in,
  Good ale and strong liquor likewise.
The feast was so good, all in the greenwood
  Where this jolly babe was baptised.

University of Nebraska.
Additional Information:
This ballad was first published by Louise Pound in American Speech, volume 2, number 2 (November 1926), page 75.  The journal is copyright to the American Dialect Society, and published by Duke University Press.  This article is reprinted with permission of the publisher by The Robin Hood Project.