I have recently introduced the multi talented Adele Treskillard. She is a regular visitor to this site and a keen researcher into the legend of Robin Hood. Her own website is at http://adele.epictales.org/ and it is here that you will see not only the first chapter of her current book Wolf’s Bard, but information on her family folk group known as Wren Song. They are a Celtic band focusing on traditional Scottish and Irish music. Gaelic sean-nos style songs and Scottish ballads mingle in their performances, blending voice and bodhran with tin whistle, harp, bagpipe, fiddle, keyboard, guitar and mandolin
Adele’s father Robert is a software developer, graphic designer, amateur comic book artist and an author of an Arthurian novel, Merlin’s Blade. He lives with his wife in St. Louis, Missouri with their three talented children. Robert’s web site is at http://robert.epictales.org/
Wren Song is currently putting together their first CD and information on their performances can be found at http://www.wrensong.org/
Adele describes her recent research thus:
“Through many long hours and days and months of research I have gotten down into the heart-depth of the Robin Hood legend. I have looked at English folk-plays, children's games, nursery rhymes, dusty ballad collections (400 years dust, I mean), and place name legends, plus taking into account Gaelic and Welsh folklore.
In reconstructing ballads from the various songs which run parallel to each other, I first have to straighten my sequences out into a logical sequence and work out the correct wordings and structures of the verses by comparisons between the differing versions, then I happily must go searching to fill in the gaps that will assuredly still be there when all is said and done, then I get to put it to music (which involves picking tunes etc) and hey presto, there it is. A bit like climbing up a cliff!”
Below is Adele’s clever reconstruction of an ancient Robin Hood ballad. Perhaps very soon we will be able to listen to it with music by Wren Song:
Robin Hùď Rescues Wilkin
© 2009 arrangement by Adele Treskillard
Sources: Child variants # 249, 212A, (Bronsons) 104, 107, 209, 99, 169, 280, 279. Other ballads used: Fair Eleanor & the Brown Girl from The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, Vol. 2 1952. Also Robin Hood & the Old Man from Robert Jamieson’s Popular Ballads and Songs from Tradition, Manuscripts and Scarce Editions, 1806. More ballads: Bold Robin Hood & the Three Squires (Bronsons), Robin Hood Rescuing Will Scathelocke, Forester MS, Robin Hood & the Beggar (#1), Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly, Little John a Begging, and Robin Hood and Queen Catherine.
In summer time when leaves grow green
It is a seemly sight to see
How Robin Hùď himself has dressed
And all his yeomandry.
A silver-laced scarlet cloak
And bows of yew, with strings of silk
Black hats white feathers all alike
And goodly steeds that be like milk
He decked his men in Lincoln green
Himself in scarlet red
Fair of his breast then was it seen
When his silver arms were spread
In his mantle of green, most brave to be seen,
Robin rides to fair London
The first one that they met with
Was a jolly beggar man
"Come change thy apparel with me, old man,
In faith thou shalt have mine;
Here are twenty pieces of good broad gold
Go drink it in ale or wine."
“Thou thine apparel is light Lincoln green
And mine gray russet and torn,
Wherever you go, wherever you ride,
Laugh neer an old man to scorn."
But Robin did on the old man’s shirt
Was torn at the hand
“By th’ faith of my body,” bold Robin can say,
“It’s the clothing that makes a man!”
But Robin did on the old man's shoes,
And they were clout full clean
Then Little John swore a solemn oath
“These’re good for thorns keen!”
Then he put on the old man's hat,
It goggled on the crown
"The first bold bargain that I come at,
It shall make thee come down!"
But Robin did on the old man’s cloak,
Was patched blue, black, and red;
He had thought no shame all the day long
To bear the bags of bread.
Then he put on the old man's breeks,
Was patched from ballup to side:
"By the truth of my body," bold Robin can say,
"This man loved little pride."
Then he put on the old man's hose,
Were patched from knee to waist:
“When I look on my legs,” said Robin,
“Then for to laugh I list.”
When Robin Hùď got on the beggar’s clothes,
He looked round about;
"Methinks," said he, "I seem to be
A beggar brave and stout.
“For now I have a bag for my bread,
So have I another for corn;
I have one for salt, and another for malt,
And here’s one for my horn.”
“But yonder,” said Robin, “is Ringlewood,
An outwood all and a shade,
And thither I rede you, my merry men all,
The ready way to take.
And when you hear my little horn blow
Come raking all on a rout
You bend your bows, and stroke your strings,
Set the gallow-tree about!”
Now Robin Hùď is to London gone,
With a link a down and a down,
And there he met with the proud sheriff,
Was walking along the town.
“An asking, an asking,” said jolly Robin
“An asking ye’ll grant to me
What will you give to a silly old man
To-day will your hangman be?"
"Some suits, some suits," the sheriff he said,
"Some suits I'll give to thee;
Some suits, some suits, and pence thirteen
Today's a hangman's fee."
But Robin he leap, and Robin he throw,
He lope over stock and stone
But those that saw Robin Hood run
Said he was a liver old man
When Wilkin came out at the dungeon-stair,
He was both red and rosy;
But when he cam to the gallows-foot,
He was colored like the lily.
When Robin leapt up the gallows stairs,
Among the chieftains many,
Black cloth is tied over Gilbert’s face,
And the gallows making ready.
Robin mounted the gallows so high
Then he stepped to his brethren two
“Gilbert and Wilkin, before you die
I needs shall borrow you.”
“I have a horn in my pocket,
I got it from Robin Hùď,
And still when I set it to my mouth,
For thee it blows great good."
“O wind thy horn,” High Sheriff he says,
“Of thee I have no doubt;
I wish that thou give such a blast,
Till both thine eyes fly out.”
He set his horn unto his mouth
And he has blown both loud and shrill
Till five hundred bold archers
Came skipping o'er the hill
Robin’s casten down his bags of bread
Let aa' his mealpocks faa'
And in a sark of red and green
He stood out-o'er them aa'!
"Who are you?" said the Sheriff
"That comes so speedilie?"
"These men are mine, and none of thine,
They've come for their comrades three!"
Then they shot east, and they shot west,
Their arrows were so keen,
That the sheriff and his company
No longer might be seen.