For a good overview of the range of pieces about the outlaw Robin Hood, take a look at the digital project at the University of Rochester. In class, we will consider the following pieces:
John Keats, “Robin Hood”
Leigh Hunt, “Robin Hood, An Outlaw“
John Hamilton Reynolds, “To a Friend, on Robin Hood”
“The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood”
There chanced to be a Pedlar bold, A Pedlar bold there chanced to be; He put his pack all on his back, And so merrily trudged over the lea. By chance he met two troublesome men, Two troublesome men they chanced to be, The one of them was bold Robin Hood, And the other was little John so free. O Pedlar, Pedlar, what is in thy pack? Come speedily and tell to me. I've several suits of the gay green silks, And silken bowstrings by two or three. If you have several suits of the gay green silk, And silken bowstrings two or three Then, by my body, cries little John, One half of your pack shall belong to me. O nay, O nay, said the pedlar bold, O nay, O nay, that can never be For there's never a man from fair Nottingham, Can take one half my pack from me. Then the Pedlar he pulled off his pack, And put it a little below his knee, Saying, If you do move me one perch from this, My pack and all shall gang with thee. Then little John he drew his sword, The Pedlar by his pack did stand, They fought until they both did sweat, Till he cried, Pedlar, pray hold your hand. Then Robin Hood he was standing by, And he did laugh most heartily, Saying, I could find a man of smaller scale, Could thrash the Pedlar and also thee. Go you try, master, says little John, Go you try, master, most speedily, For by my body, says little John, I am sure this night you will know me. Then Robin Hood he drew his sword, And the pedlar by his pack did stand; They fought till the blood in streams did flow, Till he cried, Pedlar, pray hold your hand. O Pedlar, Pedlar, what is thy name? Come speedily and tell to me. Come, my name I ne'er will tell, Till both your names you have told to me. The one of us is bold Robin Hood, And the other is little John so free. Now, says the Pedlar, it lays to my good will, Whether my name I choose to tell to thee. I am Gamble Gold of the gay green woods, And I travelled far beyond the sea, For killing a man in my father's land, And from my country was forced to flee. If you are Gamble Gold of the gay green woods, And travelled far beyond the sea, You are my mother's own sister's son, What nearer cousins can we be? They sheathed their swords, with friendly words, So merrily they did agree, They went to a tavern and there they dined, And cracked bottles most merrily.
John Keats, Robin Hood
No! those days are gone away And their hours are old and gray, And their minutes buried all Under the down-trodden pall Of the leaves of many years: Many times have winter's shears, Frozen North, and chilling East, Sounded tempests to the feast Of the forest's whispering fleeces, Since men knew nor rent nor leases. No, the bugle sounds no more, And the twanging bow no more; Silent is the ivory shrill Past the heath and up the hill; There is no mid-forest laugh, Where lone Echo gives the half To some wight, amaz'd to hear Jesting, deep in forest drear. On the fairest time of June You may go, with sun or moon, Or the seven stars to light you, Or the polar ray to right you; But you never may behold Little John, or Robin bold; Never one, of all the clan, Thrumming on an empty can Some old hunting ditty, while He doth his green way beguile To fair hostess Merriment, Down beside the pasture Trent; For he left the merry tale Messenger for spicy ale. Gone, the merry morris din; Gone, the song of Gamelyn; Gone, the tough-belted outlaw Idling in the "grenè shawe"; All are gone away and past! And if Robin should be cast Sudden from his turfed grave, And if Marian should have Once again her forest days, She would weep, and he would craze: He would swear, for all his oaks, Fall'n beneath the dockyard strokes, Have rotted on the briny seas; She would weep that her wild bees Sang not to her—strange! that honey Can't be got without hard money! So it is: yet let us sing, Honour to the old bow-string! Honour to the bugle-horn! Honour to the woods unshorn! Honour to the Lincoln green! Honour to the archer keen! Honour to tight little John, And the horse he rode upon! Honour to bold Robin Hood, Sleeping in the underwood! Honour to maid Marian, And to all the Sherwood-clan! Though their days have hurried by Let us two a burden try.
Leigh Hunt, “Robin Hood, an Outlaw Bold”
Robin Hood is an outlaw bold Under the greenwood tree; Bird, nor stag, nor morning air Is more at large than he. They sent against him twenty men, Who joined him laughing-eyed; They sent against him thirty more, And they remained beside. All the stoutest of the train, That grew in Gamelyn wood, Whether they came with these or not, Are now with Robin Hood. And not a soul in Locksley town Would speak him an ill word; The friars raged; but no man's tongue, Nor even feature stirred; Except among a very few Who dined in the Abbey halls; And then with a sigh bold Robin knew His true friends from his false. There was Roger the monk, that used to make All monkery his glee; And Midge, on whom Robin had never turned His face but tenderly; With one or two, they say, besides, Lord! that in this life's dream Men should abandon one true thing, That would abide with them. We cannot bid our strength remain, Our cheeks continue round; We cannot say to an aged back, Stoop not towards the ground; We cannot bid our dim eyes see Things as bright as ever; Nor tell our friends, though friends from youth, That they'll forsake us never: But we can say, I never will, Friendship, fall off from thee; And, oh sound truth and old regard, Nothing shall part us three.
John Hamilton Reynolds, “To a friend, on Robin Hood”
The trees in Sherwood forest are old and good,-- The grass beneath them now is dimly green; Are they deserted all? Is no young mien With loose-slung bugle met within the wood: No arrow found,--foil'd of its antler'd food,-- Struck in the oak's rude side? is there nought seen, To mark the revelries which there have been,-- In the sweet days of merry Robin Hood? Go there, with Summer, and with evening,--go In the soft shadows like some wandering man,-- And thou shalt far amid the forest know The archer men in green, with belt and bow, Feasting on phesant, river-fowl, and swan, With Robin at their head, and Marian.