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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: A taste of Robin Hood from Percy's RELIQUES OF ANCIENT ENGLISH POETRY




A couple of weeks ago I was innocently checking items out of my local library (audiobooks for all my recent miles crisscrossing the state wedding planning for my daughter, including Neil Gaiman’s STARDUST - Raise your hand if you’d happily listen to Neil Gaiman read from the telephone directory in any language, or perhaps instructions about how to use a power saw… But I digress.)


Anyway, though I headed for the exit, a magnetic pull somehow overtook me and I ended up in the little room devoted to sales of donated books. I love/hate when that happens. There is always good reading in there, and sometimes I stumble upon an antique volume that’s been stored for decades on a quiet shelf in somebody’s home.


A hefty leather-bound tome with gilded letters called my name. It was Thomas Percy’s RELIQUES OF ANCIENT ENGLISH POETRY.


Could you have resisted? Me neither. This particular book was an 1873 edition, though the work was first published in 1765 by Percy (1729-1811). One of my favorite classes in college was my medieval literature class with my favorite Furman English professor, William Rogers. Sigh. Of course this book went home with me – supporting my library, of course.


My “own” name greeted me as I flipped through, what with the frontispiece sporting an illustration of “The Grave of Robin Hood.” For fun, I found a ballad about the noble outlaw. Here are a few lines for your pleasure:


(from Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne)


Lythe and listen, gentylmen,
That be of free-bore blode:
I shall you tell of a good yeman,
His name was Robyn hode.

Robyn was a proude out-lawe,
whiles he walked on grounde;
So curteyse and outlawe as he was one,
Was never none yfounde. &c.

...



It’s reassuring to know the outlaw I’m named for was a courteous fellow.

Other fun book notes: The inscription reads, "Ida, from Mama - Xmas, 1874." I wonder who they were, where they lived? Also, tucked into pages I found some dried ferns and flowers in favorite spots. From what creek bank were these plucked as bookmarks, many years ago?


Whether your tastes run to the “ancient” or contemporary or all stops in between, please take your quivers on over to Violet Nesdoly Poems, where our lovely host is rounding up this Friday the 13th.  Read More 
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