Robin Hood

To a Friend

  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.