by Eugene Field
At Madge, ye hoyden, gossips scofft,
Ffor that a romping wench was shee--
"Now marke this rede," they bade her oft,
"Forsooken sholde your folly bee!"
But Madge, ye hoyden, laught & cried,
"Oho, oho," in girlish glee,
And noe thing mo replied.
No griffe she had nor knew no care,
But gayly rompit all daies long,
And, like ye brooke that everywhere
Goes jinking with a gladsome song,
Shee danct and songe from morn till night,--
Her gentil harte did know no wrong,
Nor did she none despight.
Sir Tomas from his noblesse halle
Did trend his path a somer's daye,
And to ye hoyden he did call
And these ffull evill words did say:
"O wolde you weare a silken gown
And binde your haire with ribands gay?
Then come with me to town!"
But Madge, ye hoyden, shoke her head,--
"I'le be no lemman unto thee
For all your golde and gownes," shee said,
"ffor Robin hath bespoken mee."
Then ben Sir Tomas sore despight,
And back unto his hall went hee
With face as ashen white.
"O Robin, wilt thou wed this girl,
Whenas she is so vaine a sprite?"
So spak ffull many an envious churle
Unto that curteyse countrie wight.
But Robin did not pay no heede;
And they ben wed a somer night
& danct upon ye meade.
Then scarse ben past a yeare & daye
Whan Robin toke unto his bed,
And long, long time therein he lay,
Nor colde not work to earn his bread;
in soche an houre, whan times ben sore,
Sr. Tomas came with haughtie tread
& knockit at ye doore.
Saies: "Madge, ye hoyden, do you know
how that you once despighted me?
But He forgiff an you will go
my swete harte lady ffor to bee!"
But Madge, ye hoyden, heard noe more,--
straightway upon her heele turnt shee,
& shote ye cottage doore.
Soe Madge, ye hoyden, did her parte
whiles that ye years did come and go;
't was somer allwais in her harte,
tho' winter strewed her head with snowe.
She toilt and span thro' all those years
nor bid repine that it ben soe,
nor never shad noe teares.
Whiles Robin lay within his bed,
A divell came and whispered lowe,--
"Giff you will doe my will," he said,
"None more of sickness you shall knowe!"
Ye which gave joy to Robin's soul--
Saies Robin: "Divell, be it soe,
an that you make me whoale!"
That day, upp rising ffrom his bed,
Quoth Robin: "I am well again!"
& backe he came as from ye dead,
& he ben mickle blithe as when
he wooed his doxy long ago;
& Madge did make ado & then
Her teares ffor joy did flowe.
Then came that hell-born cloven thing--
Saies: "Robin, I do claim your life,
and I hencefoorth shall be your king,
and you shall do my evill strife.
Look round about and you shall see
sr. Tomas' young and ffoolish wiffe--
a comely dame is shee!"
Ye divell had him in his power,
and not colde Robin say thereto:
Soe Robin from that very houre
did what that divell bade him do;
He wooed and dipt, and on a daye
Sr. Tomas' wife and Robin flewe
a many leagues away.
Sir Tomas ben wood wroth and swore,
And sometime strode thro' leaf & brake
and knockit at ye cottage door
and thus to Madge, ye hoyden, spake:
Saies, "I wolde have you ffor mine own,
So come with mee & bee my make,
syn tother birds ben flown."
But Madge, ye hoyden, bade him noe;
Saies: "Robin is my swete harte still,
And, tho' he doth despight me soe,
I mean to do him good for ill.
So goe, Sir Tomas, goe your way;
ffor whiles I bee on live I will
ffor Robin's coming pray!"
Soe Madge, ye hoyden, kneelt & prayed
that Godde sholde send her Robin backe.
And tho' ye folke vast scoffing made,
and tho' ye worlde ben colde and blacke,
And tho', as moneths dragged away,
ye hoyden's harte ben like to crack
With griff, she still did praye.
Sicke of that divell's damnèd charmes,
Aback did Robin come at last,
And Madge, ye hoyden, sprad her arms
and gave a cry and held him fast;
And as she clong to him and cried,
her patient harte with joy did brast,
& Madge, ye hoyden, died.
Last updated January 14, 2019