Robin And Gandeleyn

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is modernised from the only known version, in Sloane MS. 2593, in the British Museum (c. 1450); the minstrel's song-book which contains the famous carols: 'I sing of a maiden,' and 'Adam lay i-bounden.' This ballad was first printed by Ritson in his Ancient Songs (1790); but he misunderstood the phrase 'Robyn lyth' in the burden for the name 'Robin Lyth,' and ingeniously found a cave on Flamborough Head called Robin Lyth's Hole.

The Story is similar to those told of Robin Hood and Little John; but there is no ground for identifying this Robin with Robin Hood. Wright, in printing the Sloane MS., notes that 'Gandeleyn' resembles Gamelyn, whose 'tale' belongs to the pseudo-Chaucerian literature. But we can only take this ballad to be, like so many others, an unrelated 'relique.'


I heard a carping of a clerk
All at yon woodës end,
Of good Robin and Gandeleyn,
Was there none other thing.

Robin lieth in greenwood bounden.

Strong thievës wern tho children none,
But bowmen good and hend;
They wenten to wood to getten them flesh
If God would it them send.

All day wenten tho children two,
And flesh founden they none,
Till it were again even,
The children would gone home.

Half a hundred of fat fallow deer
They comen ayon,
And all they wern fair and fat enow,
But markëd was there none.
'By dear God,' said good Robin,
'Hereof we shall have one.'

Robin bent his jolly bow,
Therein he set a flo;
The fattest deer of all.
The heart he cleft a-two.

He had not the deer i-flaw
Ne half out of the hide,
There came a shrewd arrow out of the west
That felled Robert's pride.

Gandeleyn looked him east and west,
By every side:
'Who hath my master slain?
Who hath done this deed?
Shall I never out of greenwood go
Till I see his sidës bleed.'

Gandeleyn looked him east and west,
And sought under the sun;
He saw a little boy.
They clepen Wrennok of Donne.

A good bow in his hand,
A broad arrow therein,
And four and twenty good arrows
Trussèd in a thrum.
'Beware thee, ware thee, Gandeleyn,
Hereof thou shalt have some.

'Beware thee, ware thee, Gandeleyn,
Hereof thou gettest plenty.'
'Ever one for another,' said Gandeleyn;
'Misaunter have they shall flee.

'Whereat shall our mark be?'
Saidë Gandeleyn.
'Everich at otherës heart,'
Said Wrennok again.

'Who shall give the first shot?'
Saidë Gandeleyn.
'And I shall give thee one before,'
Said Wrennok again.

Wrennok shot a full good shot,
And he shot not too high;
Through the sanchothës of his breek,
It touchëd neither thigh.

'Now hast thou given me one before';
All thus to Wrennok said he;
'And through the might of our Lady
A better I shall give thee.'

Gandeleyn bent his good bow,
And set therein a flo;
He shot through his green kirtle,
His heart he cleft on two.

'Now shalt thou never yelp, Wrennok,
At ale ne at wine,
That thou hast slaw good Robin
And his knave Gandeleyn.

'Now shalt thou never yelp, Wrennok,
At wine ne at ale,
That thou hast slaw good Robin
And Gandeleyn his knave.'

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