May in the Greenwood
In summer, when the thickets shine
And leaves are large and long,
'Tis merry in the forest fair
To hear the sweet birdsong,
To see the deer draw to the dale
And leave their hills so high,
And seek for shadow in the leaves
Under the greenwood tree.
It did befall on Whitsuntide
One early May morning,
The sun rose up and fair would shine,
And sweet the birds would sing.
'A merry morn,' said Little John,
'By He who died on the tree;
A merrier man than I lives not
'Pluck up thy heart, my master dear,'
Then Little John did say,
'And think it is a merry time
On this fair day of May.'
from Robin Hood and the Monk, circa 1450
[modernized by George J. Dance]
May in the Green-Wood
In somer when the shawes be sheyne,
And leves be large and long,
Hit is full merry in feyre foreste
To here the foulys song.
To se the dere draw to the dale
And leve the hilles hee,
And shadow him in the leves grene
Under the green-wode tree.
Hit befell on Whitsontide
Early in a May mornyng,
The Sonne up faire can shyne,
And the briddis mery can syng.
'This is a mery mornyng,' said Litulle Johne,
'Be Hym that dyed on tre;
A more mery man than I am one
Lyves not in Christiantè.
'Pluk up thi hert, my dere mayster,'
Litulle Johne can say,
'And thynk hit is a fulle fayre tyme
In a mornynge of May.'
Anonymous, 15th century
from the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1919.
[Poem is in the public domain]