Saturday, 21 March 2015

World Poetry Day - One from the Vault.

You would be forgiven for thinking that Additional MS. 27879 doesn't sound like an inspiring title for anything to do with World Poetry Day.

It refers to a near forgotten manuscript in the British Library's vast collection, just 520 or so pages (many of them worn so thin as to be illegible).
Known as the Percy folio, it contains about two hundred stories and ballads, written in the mid 1600's, describing tales and events stretching back to the mid 12th century.

They tell of Robin Hood.

Despite many of the original pages having been damaged through faulty binding, the ravages of time, or their original owner using them to light fires with, not all the stories were lost. fragments of 8 ballads remained, and it was these that formed the basis for the later, lighter, and altogether more pleasant stories of the 1883 collection by American scholar Francis James Child.
One of the original surviving ballads deals with the death of Robin Hood at what was probably Kirklees Priory, but notably, the death scene is one of the damaged pages, ending halfway through Robin's Plea to Little John:

And sett my bright sword at my head,
Mine arrowes at my feete,
And lay my yew-bow by my side,
My <and there is no more>

Though we're faced with the absence of a confirmed kill in the ballad ( though one is added later by Child) the prose does at least lead us to Kirklees priory.
It's there in the grounds, on a grave where we can find our verse for #WorldPoetryDay.

"Ne'er an archer was as him so good
And people called him Robin Hood.
Such Outlaws as he and his men
Will England never see again."

No comments:

Post a Comment