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Robin Hood and Allin a Dale


1 The "Come all ye" opening is only found in a few "commercial" Robin Hood ballads (Robin Hood and Will Scarlet, Robin Hood and the Bishop and, in restrained form, Parker's A True Tale). A more usual opening would be line 5; presumably this opening has been introduced in the process of production as a broadside.

9 Scarlet seems a suitable color for a lover, but there are early references to the outlaws wearing scarlet. Green as a color may itself be part of an early "green wood" consciousness. In the later development of the tradition, Allin a Dale and Will Scarlet often become confused, partly because they play the role of ingenu, perhaps also because of this shared color.

13 It is unusual to have this double opening; Robin usually stands still, sees something, and goes into action. This ballad seems structurally composite from the beginning.

22 Nick is presumably based on a misreading of Much, perhaps in a form closer to OE mycel (see Midge in Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar, line 18. Dobson and Taylor emend to Midge [p. 173]). See also Munday's The Downfall, line 523, where Warman's wife calls Much Nich.

27 The ballad begins as if Allin is a stranger, about to be robbed by the outlaw. But his honesty takes the outlaws off on another narrative track, and the sequence resembles the opening of the episode with Sir Richard in Fitt 1 of the Gest.

44 There are no other references to this character in the ballads. In the post-Ritson development of the myth, Allin is usually a minor figure, perhaps reaching his zenith as Alan A. Dale, played by Bing Crosby in Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964).

50 Like the knight in the Gest, Allin offers fidelity rather than money, and Robin accepts this as a basis for helping him.

63 Disguise as a harper is one of the most familiar versions of this motif; the reference to the north countrey (line 64) does not necessarily set this story in the north: harpers would be expected to come from the less urbanized parts of Britain.

83 The motif of the young hero who joins a band and at once becomes a leading figure because of his quality is common in folklore; another instance is in Gamelyn.

91 The bishop refers to the requirement to announce a forthcoming marriage three times -- "calling the banns" -- usually over a three-week period. John burlesques the tradition by asking the congregation seven times on the wedding day, a tricksterish feature.

96 The comment is both ironical and quite searching: in earlier culture clothes did in some sense establish the powers of the person. Hence the many "sumptuary" laws which regulated the clothing to be worn by specific grades of people. In this instance, a man of the cloth (the bishop) loses his cloth (clothes).

107-08 As with so many of these ballads, the final sequence is a festival in the forest, linking in some way with the nature rituals of the Robin Hood play-game.























Come listen to me, you gallants so free,
All you that love mirth for to hear,
And I will tell of a bold outlaw,
That lived in Nottinghamshire.

As Robin Hood in the forrest stood,
All under the green-wood tree,
There was he ware of a brave young man,
As fine as fine might be.

The youngster was clothed in scarlet red,
In scarlet fine and gay,
And he did frisk it over the plain,
And chanted a roundelay.

As Robin Hood next morning stood,
Amongst the leaves so gay,
There did he espy the same young man,
Come drooping along the way.

The scarlet he wore the day before,
It was clean cast away;
And every step he fetcht a sigh,
"Alack and a well a day!"

Then stepped forth brave Little John,
And Nick the millers son,
Which made the young man bend his bow,
When as he see them come.

"Stand off, stand off," the young man said,
"What is your will with me?"
"You must come before our master straight,
Under yon green-wood tree."

And when he came bold Robin before,
Robin askt him courteously,
"O hast thou any money to spare
For my merry men and me?"

"I have no money," the young man said,
"But five shillings and a ring;
And that I have kept this seven long years,
To have it at my wedding.

"Yesterday I should have married a maid,
But she is now from me tane,
And chosen to be an old knights delight,
Whereby my poor heart is slain."

"What is thy name?" then said Robin Hood,
"Come tell me, without any fail."
"By the faith of my body," then said the young man,
"My name it is Allin a Dale."

"What wilt thou give me," said Robin Hood,
"In ready gold or fee,
To help thee to thy true love again,
And deliver her unto thee?"

"I have no money," then quoth the young man,
"No ready gold nor fee,
But I will swear upon a book
Thy true servant for to be."

"How many miles is it to thy true love?
Come tell me without any guile."
"By the faith of my body," then said the young man,
"It is but five little mile."

Then Robin he hasted over the plain,
He did neither stint nor lin,
Until he came unto the church,
Where Allin should keep his wedding.

"What dost thou here?" the bishop he said,
"I prethee now tell to me."
"I am a bold harper," quoth Robin Hood,
"And the best in the north countrey."

"O welcome, O welcome," the bishop he said,
"That musick best pleaseth me."
"You shall have no musick," quoth Robin Hood,
"Till the bride and the bridegroom I see."

With that came in a wealthy knight,
Which was both grave and old,
And after him a finikin lass,
Did shine like glistering gold.

"This is no fit match," quoth bold Robin Hood,
"That you do seem to make here;
For since we are come unto the church,
The bride she shall chuse her own dear."

Then Robin Hood put his horn to his mouth,
And blew blasts two or three;
When four and twenty bowmen bold
Came leaping over the lee.

And when they came into the church-yard,
Marching all on a row,
The first man was Allin a Dale,
To give bold Robin his bow.

"This is thy true love," Robin he said,
"Young Allin, as I hear say,
And you shall be married at this same time,
Before we depart away."

"That shall not be," the bishop he said,
"For thy word shall not stand;
They shall be three times askt in the church,
As the law is of our land."

Robin Hood pulld off the bishops coat,
And put it upon Little John;
"By the faith of my body," then Robin said,
"This cloath doth make thee a man."

When Little John went into the quire,
The people began for to laugh;
He askt them seven times in the church,
Least three times should not be enough.

"Who gives me this maid," then said Little John;
Quoth Robin, "That do I,
And he that doth take her from Allin a Dale
Full dearly he shall her buy."

And thus having ended this merry wedding,
The bride lookt as fresh as a queen,
And so they returnd to the merry green wood,
Amongst the leaves so green.
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lyrical love song

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stop nor delay

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open ground

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pay for

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Go to Robin Hood and Maid Marian: Introduction