Further reading

Knight, Stephen, and Thomas Ohlgren, eds. Robin Hood and Other Outlaw Tales. Kalamazoo, Mich.: Medieval Institute Publications, 1997. Ohlgren Thomas H., ed. Medieval Outlaws: Twelve Tales in Modern English Translation. Revised and Expanded Edition. West Lafayette, Ind.: Parlor Press, 2005.

Thomas H. ohlgren

"GET UP AND BAR THE DOOR" Anonymous (16th century) This traditional, humorous Scottish folk ballad is known throughout Europe and Asia and has many variations, both in verse and prose form. At Martinmas time (November 11, the feast of St. Martin), a housewife is boiling puddings (sausages) at night. A cold wind is blowing under the door, and the husband asks his wife to close the door. Since she is busy, she says no, and they strike up a bargain: Whoever is first to speak the next word must get up and bar the door. At midnight, two gentlemen (in other variations they are "thieves" or "strangers") ask whether the inhabitants of the house are rich or poor, but neither the wife nor the husband says a word. The gentlemen eat the puddings, then one of them tells the other to take his knife and "tak off the auld man's beard, / And I'll kiss the goodwife" (ll. 31-32). Since there is no hot water to shave the husband, they threaten to use the pudding broth, which causes the husband to shout his outrage. Because he has spoken first, the wife skips across the floor, saying, "Goodman, you've spoke the foremost word, / Get up and bar the door" (ll. 43-44). Of course, it is too late.

The ballad follows standard form and is divided into 11 four-line ballad stanzas, rhyming abcb. Some scholars have related it to the fabliau, though it lacks certain elements. Others have examined it as a commoner's version of flytyng.

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