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How Robin and His Outlaws Lived in The Woods

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 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.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:24 min read
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James Henry Leigh Hunt

James Henry Leigh Hunt, best known as Leigh Hunt, was an English critic, essayist, poet and writer. more…

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