Voice in the Forest – Author’s Note

Here are just a few points on the various bits and pieces brought into this book:


Of Robin Hood

There are two extracts from ballads about Robin Hood. The one at the end of ‘Grotto by the Shore’ is from Robin Hood and Little John, lines 82-5 and 110-3, quoted on pages 304-5 of The Robin Hood Handbook: The Outlaw in History, Myth and Legend by Mike Dixon-Kennedy. And that in ‘In Memory of Cuthburt’ is from A Gest of Robyn Hode, lines 9-12, quoted on page 232 of the same book. A modern rendering of this could be:


Robin stood in Barnsdale,
And leaned him on a tree,
And by him stood Little John,
A good yeoman was he.


It is not stated which version of the Gest is used, but Jan van Daesbroch’s and Wyn Kyn de Worde’s are both mentioned in the preamble. According to Graham Phillips and Martin Keaton in their Robin Hood: The Man Behind the Myth these are the ‘A’ and ‘B’ versions (p. 11-13) where the title of the ‘A’ text is The Gest of Robyn Hode. The ‘B’ version is probably from 1515.


Of Pangur Ban

The poem from which Owel takes the name of his boat is quoted on pages 162-3 of Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization where, in translation, it runs thus:

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

‘Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye,
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban my cat and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.


Of Immrama

The translation of ‘The Voyage of Saint Brendan’ I use comes from The Age of Bede, published by Penguin Classics, and the story of ‘The Voyage of Maeldún’ is summarised in T.W. Rollinson’s Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race.