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,
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;
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 wnet 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.