117: A Gest of Robyn Hode

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There has been much conjecture on the origins of this, one of the earliest of the RH ballads. Child documents several copies in print, the earliest c1500. As Child states, it is a compilation of several ballads four of which exist separately in the canon. He summarises his findings thus at Vol 3, p49, 'The Gest is a popular epic, composed from several ballads by a poet of a thoroughly congenial spirit. No one of the ballads from which it was made up is extant in a separate shape and some portions of the story may have been of the compiler's own invention.' I would suggest that this last proposal is highly likely. The ballad does not even survive in fragments out of print, although as Child states some of its component plots are found in other RH ballads. No added versions in Bronson.