Lay of the Woodsman
and the Warrior

by Master Li Kung Lo

© Richie Monroe

lyrics modified from the original

Come sit beside me wayfarer, and charge my cup with ale,
And for your company withal, I'll sing for thee a tale;
Of how the greatest knight of all was stricken and laid low,
By a single peasant armed only with a bow.

Twas Beltane eve he hied him on, the sun was sinking low,
To Kent he rode upon such whims as ye may never know;
The finest mail upon his back, a seasoned fighting man,
He came upon a winding stream crossed by a narrow span.

Upon the bridge there stood a boy who blocked the great knight's way,
In wonderment this errant knight heard what this lad did say;
"Turn back Sir knight, seek other ways, wherever they may lie,
Thou may not pass, and if thou try me,thou wilt surely die".

"Oh churlish knave," the knight replied, "thy life I would not take,
And I will spare thee, foolish boy, for mine own honor's sake;
A squire I would make of thee, to take up sword and shield,
But an thou will not, say thy prayers, for thou wilt die or yield.

I serve no man, the rogue called back, I am and will stay free,
But know, good knight, that ne'er a soul has had the best o' me;
To serve the Lady of this wood is my thought and deed,
This stout long bow and but one shaft is all that I shall need"

"Then arm thyself," the horseman cried, "but sure to no avail,
For shaft or bolt has e'er been made that will pierce this mail"
He brandished sword and spurred his steed, his shield was battle- dressed,
The knave let fly and found his mark, full upon the breast

Upon that bridge in dark of night, awaken with a start,
The knight reached down where grey goose shaft had pierced him to the heart;
His mail was rent, but not his flesh - no wound appeared upon his breast,
Though eldritch scar remained there and bespoke the woodsman's jest

The knave was gone but not his shaft, that he had left behind,
And yet his parting words remained still in the good knight's mind

"I have bested thee, Sir knight, and killed thee right and clean,
Remember, when you set your eyes upon King Arthur's queen"

No other knight in all the land could match him on the field,
No stronger arm throughout the realm a great broadsword did wield;
Against a stripling's clothyard shaft, his arms availed him not,
An arrow loosed from Cupid's bow had felled Sir Lancelot

So hearken to this tale, me boys, and learn this lesson well,
There be no man alive whom Cupid's arrow cannot fell;
So try not arms with Faerie Folk, though clothed in mortal guise,
And beware the shafts of Cupid's bow, within a woman's eyes

Performance Notes

The original version repeated the last roughly half of the last line of each stanza between verses.
The tune that I am singing is nowhere close to the one which Master Li uses when he performs it. He maintains a website at and now has it available on the CD 'Reunion' as well as from by searching on 'Richie Monroe'.
The half-stanza in italics is a part that I always seem to forget - I cannot recall having sung those words in the past year without singing the song from paper, and this is a song I frequently sing softly while wandering about. So it's not on my recording, for example. I usually do just use that little bridge there and go on with the song.