Robin and Makyn


Robyn sat on a good green hill,
Keeping a flock was he
Merry Makyn near him till,
"Robin, have ruth for me;
I have loved thee loud and still
For years now two or three,
Doleful in secret; unless thou will,
I fear I shall doubtless die."

Robin answered, "By the Rood,
Nothing of love I know
But keeping my sheep under yon wood--
Lo! where they wander a-row:
What has marred thee in they mood,
Makyn, I beg thou show;
Or what is love, or to be loved?
Fain I would learn that law."

"At love's lair, to learn its lore
Take there this a-b-c:
Be kind, courteous, and fair as fair,
Wise, generous, hearty
So that thou need not to endure
What hidden hurts may harm thee;
Fight thy pain with all thy power,
Have patience and be privy."

Robin answered her again,
"I know not what is love,
But I am marvelous uncertain
What makes thee thus to grieve:
The weather is fair, I have no pain,
My hale sheep climb above;
And should we play upon this plain,
We both would earn reproof."

"Robin, pay heed unto my tale,
Work all as I have said,
And thou shalt have my heart all hale,
Aye, and my maidenhead.
Since God sends thee beauty for bale,
And mourning is remade,
I plead with thee, if I turn tail,
Doubtless I am but dead."

"Makyn, this morning it may betide,
While ye waylay me here,
My sheep may hap to stray aside
While we have lain full near;
I fret this moment as I bide
That they shall disappear--
What freights my heart I will not hide;
Makyn, be of good cheer."

"Robin, thou rob my ruth and rest;
I love but thee alone."
"Makyn, adieu, the sun goes west,
The day is nearly gone."
"Robyn, I grieve; I am distressed
That love will be my bane."
"Go love, Makyn, wherever thou list,
For mistresses I want none."

"Robin, I stand in such a stall;
I sigh, and that full sore.
"Makyn, I have been here this while;
At home God grant I were."
"My honey, Robin, talk awhile,
If thou wilt do no more."
"Makyn, some other man beguile,
For homeward I will fare."

Upon his own way Robin went
Light as the leaf of a tree;
Makyn, spited of her intent,
Watched Robin across the lea
And vowed to spurn him without stint.
Then Makyn cried out on high,
"Now may thou sing, for I am spent!
What ails this love in me?"

Makyn went home and did not fail,
Weary of learning to weep.
Then Robin in a full-fair dale
Gathered together his sheep,
When some part of what made Makyn ail
Into his heart did creep;
He followed her fast till he could hale
And tell her, "Take good keep!

"Abide, abide, thou fair Makyn,
One word for anything;
For all my love, it shall be thine,
Without any departing.
O take my heart, for to have thine
Is all my coveting;
My sheep till tomorrow's hours nine
Will need of no keeping."

"Robin, thou hast heard sing and say
In gestes and stories old,
The man that will not when he may
Shall have not when he would.
I pray that Jesus every day
Increase their cares and cold
Who shall contend with thee to play
By firth, forest, or fold."

"Makyn, the night is soft and dry,
The weather is warm and fair,
And the greenwood is here nearby,
We may walk privy where
No gossips will be near to spy
Upon our trysting there;
Therein, Makyn, both ye and I,
Unseen we may repair."

"Robin, that world is all away
And quite brought to an end,
And never again after today
Shall I come as thou wend;
For of my pain thou made but play,
Vainly did my bough bend;
As thou hast done, so I shall say,
'Mourn on, I think to mend.'"

"Makyn, the hope of all my weal,
My heart on thee is set,
And ever to thee shall I kneel
While I have blood to let;
Never to fail, as others fail,
Whatever grace I get."
"Robin, with thee I will not deal;
Adieu, for thus we met."

Makyn went home, blithe anew,
Across the forest floor;
Robin mourned, and Makyn flew,
She sang, he sighed full sore;
And so she left him woe and rue
In care and in dolor,
Keeping his herd beside a sleugh
Upon the forest floor.


Robert Henryson.