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The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield


1-2 This refrain is repeated after each stanza; the second and fourth lines of each stanza are also repeated, emphasizing the sung character of this ballad.
Wakefield, in West Yorkshire like a number of other places associated with Robin Hood, was thought by Joseph Hunter to be the home of the Robin Hood who served Edward II. More historically, it was a town of some importance in the wool trade and not far from the Yorkshire Barnsdale, so providing the tension between town and country that seems basic to much of the early Robin Hood material in the ballads.
A pinder is "an officer of a manor, having duty of impounding stray beasts" (OED). Also spelled "pinner." The green would be the pinfold, the place where the pinder will pin or pen the stray animals.

3 The text's reading their for there may be a variant version, but as the spelling of the two words is being distinguished at the time, it is better to treat it as an error and, with Child, emend.

4 The text has barron, though Child prints baron without explanation.

6 This suggests more than the mere impounding of stray animals: the Pinder is, it seems, a general defender of the town's liberties, which is how he appears in the play and in the undercurrent of this ballad.

7 The texts agree on the word witty except for Forresters' A version, which has wight. Child says in his notes that "witty" is "a corruption of wight," and Forresters justifies the emendation Child did not have the evidence to make.

13 The text retains high way as two words, though Child prints it as one.

17 Forresters agrees with thirty here but has three in the next line. Both are numerals, and emendation seems justified.

21 The day-long fight is an almost regular recurrence in these "Robin Hood meets his match" ballads, and is also found in many romances. Even major real battles were usually over in a few hours, so this must be a popular image of a grand and terrible conflict.

23 Child's lay-out of the ballad here departs from the four-line stanza, but to no good effect. He prints lines 19-24 as a six-line stanza with irregular rhyme (stone/king/hands) and then inserts a line of asterisks as if there were material missing. He also leaves a gap between lines 35-36. None of these responses seems necessary. As the ballad is laid out here there is a well-rhymed six-line stanza at lines 31-36, a weaker, but acceptably rhymed four-line stanza in lines 19-22, and a distinctly weaker one in lines 23-26. There may have been transmission damage to cause this bad rhyme, as there is another in the next stanza in Wood, but the Percy folio text, which is unavailable before this point, provides the proper rhyme there (see the next note).

28 Wood's earlier text does not rhyme here, since its line That ever I try'd with sword must rhyme either with line 26, one, or line 30, me. The Percy manuscript begins with this stanza and provides the line used here.

29 Wood's text has thy pinder his craft, which Child prints; this is clearly a double genitive. Hyper-correct usage expanded the genitive ending in -s to his, believing the 's was an abbreviation of the pronoun. Later texts abandon this, but emendation to the pinder is necessary, as found in line 41.

33 The blade is blew because it is made of good quality steel.

43 Robin offers livery, that is a new suit of clothes at regular intervals, as well no doubt as a fee for joining his band (like that offered the Curtal Friar). The Pinder will accept this when his present service contract runs out at Michaelmas, September 29th, which was a traditional "quarter day" for bills and agreements of this kind.

44 Child adds shal be for rhyme, though none of the printed texts, or Forresters, feel the need, and so their model is accepted. Percy's mysterious rhyme "Picklory" may suggest a lost original, but it would hardly have been corrupted to a bad rhyme on brown. It is conceivable that all colors have been reversed and there was originally a weak rhyme with green, but stanzas without rhyme do occur in the ballads and there seems no good cause to emend as dramatically as Child.

49-50 Wood's version ends at line 48, but Percy concludes with this firm couplet, making a six-line stanza. Broadside ballads were often cut to fit the page, which may be the case in Wood.
Note that the Pinder, who has fought with a sword, is also able to use the long bow.












In Wakefield there lives a jolly pinder,
In Wakefield, all on a green.

"There is neither knight nor squire," said the pinder,
"Nor barron that is so bold,
Dare make a trespasse to the town of Wakefield,
But his pledge goes to the pinfold."

All this beheard three wight young men,
'Twas Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John;
With that they spyed the jolly pinder,
As he sate under a thorn.

"Now turn again, turn again," said the pinder,
"For a wrong way have you gone;
For you have forsaken the king his high way,
And made a path over the corn."

"O that were great shame," said jolly Robin,
"We being three, and thou but one."
The pinder leapt back then three good foot,
'Twas three good foot and one.

He leaned his back fast unto a thorn,
And his foot unto a stone,
And there he fought a long summer's day,
A summer's day so long.

Till that their swords, on their broad bucklers,
Were broken fast unto their hands.
"Hold thy hand, hold thy hand," said Robin Hood,
"And my merry men every one.

"For this is one of the best pinders
That ever I saw with eye.
And wilt thou forsake the pinder his craft,
And live in green wood with me?"

"At Michaelmas next my cov'nant comes out,
When every man gathers his fee;
I'le take my blew blade all in my hand,
And plod to the green wood with thee."
"Hast thou either meat or drink," said Robin Hood
"For my merry men and me?"

"I have both bread and beef," said the pinder,
"And good ale of the best."
"And that is meat good enough," said Robin Hood,
"For such unbidden guest.

"O wilt thou forsake the pinder his craft,
And go to the green wood with me?
Thou shalt have a livery twice in the year,
The one green, the other brown."

"If Michaelmas day were once come and gone
And my master had paid me my fee,
Then would I set as little by him
As my master doth set by me.
I'le take my benbowe in my hand,
And come into the grenwode to thee."

   impounder of stray animals; (see note)

(see note)
(see note)

surety; (see note)

strong; (see note)


(see note)
through the field

(see note)

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(see note)
right up to

(see note)
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(see note)


(see note)
(see note)

long bow; (see note)


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