Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.

Sherwood Forest

Robin Hood

By Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829–1925)

(From Gabriel)

IN a fair wood like this, where the beeches are growing,

Brave Robin Hood hunted in days of old;

Down his broad shoulders his brown locks fell flowing,

His cap was of green, with a tassel of gold.

His eye was as blue as the sky in midsummer,

Ruddy his cheek as the oak-leaves in June,

Hearty his voice as he hailed the new-comer,

Tender to maidens in changeable tune.

His step had a strength, and his smile had a sweetness,

His spirit was wrought of the sun and the breeze,

He moved as a man framed in nature’s completeness,

And grew unabashed with the growth of the trees.

And ever to poets, who walk in the gloaming,

His horn is still heard in the prime of the year;

Last eve he went with us, unseen, in our roaming,

And thrilled with his presence the shy troops of deer.

When the warm sun sank down in a golden declining,

And night clomb the slopes and the firs to their tops,

And the faint stars to meet her did brighten their shining,

And the heat was refined into diamond drops;

Then Robin stole forth in his quaint forest-fashion,—

For dear to the heart of all poets is he,—

And in mystical whispers awakened the passion

Which slumbers within for a life that were free.

We follow the lead unawares of his spirit,

He tells us the tales which we heard in past time;

Ah! why should we forfeit this earth we inherit

For lives which we cannot expand into rhyme!

I think, as I lie in the shade of the beeches,

How lived and how loved this old hero of song;

I would we could follow the lesson he teaches,

And dwell, as he dwelt, these wild thickets among.

At least for a while, till we caught up the meaning

The beeches breathe out in the wealth of their growth,

Width in their nobleness, love in their leaning,

And peace at the heart from the fulness of both.