Back to top

Robyn and Gandelyn


1 This refrain line apparently refers to Robin's burial in a shroud as a result of the action of this poem; an analogue is the refrain of Adam lay ybounden. The line is usually printed as line 5, but actually begins the text in the MS.

Robyn lyth was read by Ritson (1790, p. 48) as the name of one of the characters, and made the title of the poem, but it is clearly a subject and verb.

4 Gandeleyn. The name is close to Gamelyn (Skeat feels it is descended from it, 1884, p. ix). Gutch remarked that Gandalin is a name found in the Old Spanish romance Amadis de Gaul (1847, II, 36)

5 MS: gynge. Child emends to thynge, presumably on grounds of sense, but as Dobson and Taylor suggest (1976, p. 256), gynge meaning "gang" or "company" makes sharper sense.

13 MS: wolde. The final e is almost completely lost by the clippping of the page.

18 Robyn has probably been clipped from the edge of the MS: it seems necessary and is supplied.

20 MS: went. Child emends to bent, the verb regularly used in this collocation.

27 Robertes. I.e., Robin's. The balladeer uses the outlaw's more formal name when speaking of his pride.

33 Til. MS: ti.
Child inserts his before sydis, but this seems unnecessary and is not accepted by Dobson and Taylor (1976, p. 256).

45 MS: Hir. Child emends to Her, but this is unnecessary.

54 MS ewe is corrected to eue by the scribe, and so Child's emendation to this is not necessary.

55 MS: seyd. Child adds a final e, presumably for meter, but this is unnecessary and is omitted by Dobson and Taylor (1976, p. 257).

58 Child and Dobson and Taylor read the MS as sanchothis but the first h is overwritten to make it more like an l. The reading sanclothis should be emended to samclothis, a "semigarment" formed by the loose cloth hanging down from a pair of breeches between the legs; the MED refers to this instance of the word.

62 MS: thu. Child emends to the.

74 MS: sw is crossed out before slawe.

75 Gandeleyn. MS: Gandelyyn.
MS: knawe. Child emends to knave which seems sensible, but does damage the rhyme. An unaffricated bilabial, as is possible in knawe, would give a better rhyme with ale in line 73.

















Robynn lyth in grene wode bowndyn.

I herde a carpyng of a clerk,
Al at yone wodes ende,
Of gode Robyn and Gandeleyn;
Was ther non other gynge.

Stronge thevys wer tho chylderin non,
But bowmen gode and hende;
He wentyn to wode to getyn hem fleych,
If God wold it hem sende.

Al day wentyn tho chylderin too,
And fleych fowndyn he non,
Til it were ageyn evyn;
The chylderin wolde gon hom.

Half an honderid of fat falyf der
He comyn ayon,
And alle he wern fayr and fat inow,
But markyd was ther non;
"Be dere God," seyde gode Robyn,
"Here of we shul have on."

Robyn bent his joly bowe,
Ther in he set a flo;
The fattest der of alle
The herte he clef a to.

He hadde not the der iflawe,
Ne half out of the hyde,
There cam a schrewde arwe out of the west,
That felde Robertes pryde.

Gandeleyn lokyd hym est and west,
Be every syde:
"Hoo hat myn mayster slayin?
Ho hat don this dede?
Shal I never out of grene wode go
Til I se sydis blede."

Gandeleyn lokyd hym est and lokyd west,
And sowt under the sunne;
He saw a lytil boy
He clepyn Wrennok of Donne.

A good bowe in his hond,
A brod arwe ther ine,
And fowre and twenty goode arwys,
Trusyd in a thrumme:
"Be war the, war the, Gandeleyn,
Her of thu shalt han summe.

"Be war the, war the, Gandeleyn,
Hir of thu gyst plenté."
"Ever on for an other," seyde Gandeleyn;
"Mysaunter have he shal fle.

"Wher-at shal oure marke be?"
Seyde Gandeleyn.
"Everyche at otheris herte,"
Seyde Wrennok ageyn.

"Ho shal yeve the ferste schote?"
Seyde Gandeleyn:
"And I shul geve the on be-forn."
Seyd Wrennok ageyn.

Wrennok schette a ful good schote,
And he schet not to hye;
Throw the samclothis of his bryk,
It towchyd neyther thye.

"Now hast thou govyn me on beforn,"
Al thus to Wrennok seyde he,
"And throw the myght of our Lady
A bettere I shal yeve the."

Gandeleyn bent his goode bowe,
And set ther in a flo;
He schet throw his grene certyl,
His herte he clef on too.

"Now shalt thu never yelpe, Wrennok,
At ale ne at wyn,
That thu hast slawe goode Robyn,
And his knave Gandeleyn.

"Now shalt thu never yelpe, Wrennok,
At wyn ne at ale,
That thu hast slawe goode Robyn,
And Gandeleyn his knawe."

Robyn lyeth in grene wode bowndyn.
bound (in a shroud); (see note)

singing; learned person
(see note)
company; (see note)

those youths
skillful; honorable
They; flesh (meat)

meat they found none
toward evening
(see note)

fallow deer
They came upon
(see note)
shall have one

(see note)

cleaved in two


devilish arrow
struck down; (see note)

Who has

(see note)


They call

twenty four
Tied; bundle

will get plenty; (see note)

Misfortune may he have who flees


Each at the other's heart


the first one; (see note)
(see note)


apron; breeches; (see note)

given me one first

(see note)
A better [shot] I shall give thee

He shot through his green kirtle
cleft in two



(see note)
servant; (see note)


Go to Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesley: Introduction