How Robin and His Outlaws Lived in the Woods

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How Robin and His Outlaws Lived in the Woods

by: Leigh Hunt (Author)
from: The Indicator (Pp. 52 - 54)  November 22, 1820

Robin and his merry men
   Lived just like the birds;
They had almost as many tracks as thoughts,
   And whistles and songs as words.

Up they were with the earliest sign
   Of the sun's up-looking eye;
But not an archer breakfasted
   Till he twinkled from the sky.

All the morning they were wont
   To fly their grey-goose quills
At butts, or wands, or trees, or twigs,
   Till theirs was the skill of skills.

With swords too they played lustily,
   And at quarter-staff;
Many a hit would have made some cry,
   Which only made them laugh.

The horn was then their dinner-bell;
   When like princes of the wood,
Under the glimmering summer trees,
   Pure venison was their food.

Pure venison and a little wine,
   Except when the skies were rough;
Or when they had a feasting day;
   For their blood was wine enough.

And story then, and joke, and song,
   And Harry's harp went round;
And sometimes they'd get up and dance,
   For pleasure of the sound.

Tingle, tangle! said the harp,
   As they footed in and out:
Good lord! it was a sight to see
      Their feathers float about;--

A pleasant sight, especially
   If Margery was there,
Or little Ciss, or laughing Bess,
   Or Moll with the clumps of hair;

Or any other merry lass
   From the neighbouring villages,
Who came with milk and eggs, or fruit,
   A singing through the trees.

For all the country round about
   Was fond of Robin Hood,
With whom they got a share of more
   Than the acorns in the wood;

Nor ever would he suffer harm
   To woman, above all;
No plunder, were she ne'er so great,
   No fright to great or small;

No,-not a single kiss unliked,
   Nor one look-saddening clip;
Accurst be he, said Robin Hood,
   Makes pale a woman's lip.

Only on the haughty rich,
   And on their unjust store,
He'd lay his fines of equity
   For his merry men and the poor.

And special was his joy, no doubt
   (Which made the dish to curse)
To light upon a good fat friar,
   And carve him of his purse.

A monk to him was a toad in the hole,
   And an abbot a pig in grain,
But a bishop was a baron of beef,
   With cut and come again.

Never poor man came for help,
   And went away denied;
Never woman for redress,
   And went away wet-eyed.

Says Robin to the poor who came
   To ask of him relief,
You do but get your goods again,
   That were altered by the thief;

There, ploughman, is a sheaf of your's
   Turned to yellow gold;
And, miller, there's your last year's rent,
   'Twill wrap thee from the cold:

And you there, Wat of Lancashire,
   Who such a way have come,
Get upon your land-tax, man,
   And ride it merrily home.