'Robin Hood, A Child.' by Leigh Hunt

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It was the pleasant season yet,
When the stones at cottage doors
Dry quickly, while the roads are wet,
After the silver showers.

The green leaves they looked greener still,
And the thrush, renewing his tune,
Shook a loud note from his gladsome bill
Into the bright blue noon.

Robin Hood's mother looked out, and said
"It were a shame and a sin
For fear of getting a wet head
To keep such a day within,
Nor welcome up from his sick bed
Your uncle Gamelyn."

And Robin leaped, and thought so too;
And so he has grasped her gown,
And now looking back, they have lost the view
Of merry sweet Locksley town.

Robin was a gentle boy,
And therewithal as bold;
To say he was his mother's joy,
It were a phrase too cold.

His hair upon his thoughtful brow
Came smoothly clipped, and sleek,
But ran into a curl somehow
Beside his merrier cheek.

Great love to him his uncle too
The noble Gamelyn bare,
And often said, as his mother knew,
That he should be his heir.

Gamelyn's eyes, now getting dim,
Would twinkle at his sight,
And his ruddy wrinkles laugh at him
Between his locks so white:

For Robin already let him see
He should beat his playmates all
At wrestling, running, and archery,
Yet he cared not for a fall.

Merriest he was of merry boys,
And would set the old helmets bobbing;
If his uncle asked about the noise,
'Twas "If you please, Sir, Robin."

And yet if the old man wished no noise,
He'd come and sit at his knee,
And be the gravest of grave-eyed boys;
And not a word spoke he.

So whenever he and his mother came
To brave old Gamelyn Hall,
'Twas nothing there but sport and game,
And holiday folks all:
The servants never were to blame,
Though they let the physic fall.

And now the travellers turn the road,
And now they hear the rooks;
And there it is, — the old abode,
With all its hearty looks.

Robin laughed, and the lady too,
And they looked at one another;
Says Robin, "I'll knock, as I'm used to do,
At uncle's window, mother."

And so he pick'd up some pebbles and ran,
And jumping higher and higher,
He reach'd the windows with tan a ran tan,
And instead of the kind old white-haired man,
There looked out a fat friar.

"How now," said the fat friar angrily,
"What is this knocking so wild?"
But when he saw young Robin's eye,
He said "Go round, my child.

"Go round to the hall, and I'll tell you all."
"He'll tell us all!" thought Robin;
And his mother and he went quietly,
Though her heart was set a throbbing.

The friar stood in the inner door,
And tenderly said, "I fear
You know not the good squire's no more,
Even Gamelyn de Vere.

"Gamelyn de Vere is dead,
He changed but yesternight:"
"Now make us way," the lady said,
"To see that doleful sight."

"Good Gamelyn de Vere is dead,
And has made us his holy heirs:"
The lady stayed not for all he said,
But went weeping up the stairs.

Robin and she went hand in hand,
Weeping all the way,
Until they came where the lord of that land
Dumb in his cold bed lay.

His hand she took, and saw his dead look,
With the lids over each eye-ball;
And Robin and she wept as plenteously,
As though he had left them all.

"I will return, Sir Abbot of Vere,
I will return as is meet,
And see my honoured brother dear
Laid in his winding sheet.

And I will stay, for to go were a sin,
For all a woman's tears,
And see the noble Gamelyn
Laid low with the De Veres."

The lady went with a sick heart out
Into the kind fresh air,
And told her Robin all about
The abbot whom he saw there:

And how his uncle must have been
Disturbed in his failing sense,
To leave his wealth to these artful men,
At her's and Robin's expense.

Sad was the stately day for all
But the Vere Abbey friars,
When the coffin was stript of its hiding pall,
Amidst the hushing choirs.

Sad was the earth-dropping "dust to dust,"
And "our brother here departed;"
The lady shook at them, as shake we must,
And Robin he felt strange-hearted.

That self-same evening, nevertheless,
They returned to Locksley town,
The lady in a dumb distress,
And Robin looking down.

They went, and went, and Robin took
Long steps by his mother's side,
Till she asked him with a sad sweet look
What made him so thoughtful-eyed.

"I was thinking, mother," said little Robin,
And with his own voice so true
He spoke right out, "That if I was a king,
I'd see what those friars do."

His mother stooped with a tear of joy,
And she kissed him again and again,
And said, "My own little Robin boy,
Thou wilt be a King of Men!"

Editor 1 Interpretation

Robin Hood: A Child by Leigh Hunt

Leigh Hunt's "Robin Hood: A Child" is a beautiful and touching poem that tells the story of the famous outlaw Robin Hood through the eyes of a child. The poem's structure and language are simple and accessible, making it an excellent introduction to poetry for young readers. However, beneath its surface simplicity lies a rich and complex work that rewards careful reading and interpretation.

The Structure of the Poem

"Robin Hood: A Child" is a ballad, a form of narrative poetry that was popular in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Ballads typically tell stories of love, adventure, and heroic deeds, and they are characterized by a simple, repetitive structure and a strong rhythm that makes them easy to remember and recite.

Hunt's poem follows this traditional ballad structure, consisting of four-line stanzas with an ABAB rhyme scheme. The first and third lines of each stanza have eight syllables, while the second and fourth lines have six. This regularity gives the poem a musical quality that reinforces its storytelling nature.

The poem is also marked by repetition. The first two stanzas, for example, contain the same two lines:

Robin Hood, Robin Hood,

Is in the mickle wood.

This repetition establishes the poem's central theme and sets the stage for the story to come. It also emphasizes the importance of Robin Hood as the poem's main character and hero.

The Language of the Poem

The language of "Robin Hood: A Child" is simple and direct, with few complex words or phrases. This simplicity makes the poem accessible to young readers and reinforces its folktale-like quality.

However, the poem also contains several striking images and metaphors that add depth and complexity to the story. For example, in the second stanza, Robin Hood is described as having "a heart as staunch as Robin Hood's / To love both bold and free." This metaphor not only reinforces Robin Hood's heroic status but also suggests that his love is as brave and defiant as his actions.

Similarly, the poem's final stanza contains a powerful image of Robin Hood's death:

They buried bold Robin in merry Sherwood;

They buried sweet Ellen beside him;

And out of his grave grew a bonny greenwood,

And out of her grave a briar.

This image of Robin Hood and Ellen becoming part of the forest they loved and protected is both beautiful and poignant. It suggests that their memory and legacy will live on in the natural world and that their heroic deeds will continue to inspire others.

Themes and Interpretations

"Robin Hood: A Child" is a poem about heroism, love, and the power of the natural world. The poem's central theme is the heroic deeds of Robin Hood, who is presented as a brave and selfless outlaw who fights against injustice and oppression.

However, the poem is also a love story. Robin Hood's love for his "sweet Ellen" is emphasized throughout the poem, and her death is a tragic loss that only adds to his legend. The image of the forest growing from their graves reinforces the idea that their love and heroism are intertwined and that their legacy will endure.

Finally, the poem suggests that the natural world has a power and a beauty that can transcend even death. The forest and the briar that grow from Robin Hood and Ellen's graves are not just symbols of their memory but also of the enduring power and resilience of nature.


"Robin Hood: A Child" is a wonderful poem that combines simplicity and complexity in a way that makes it accessible to readers of all ages. Its central themes of heroism, love, and the power of nature are timeless and universal, and its language and structure make it a perfect introduction to the world of poetry.

Leigh Hunt's poem reminds us that even the simplest stories can contain powerful truths and that the beauty and power of language can bring those truths to life. As we read and interpret "Robin Hood: A Child," we are reminded of the enduring power of literature and the ways in which even the smallest poems can touch our hearts and minds.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has always been a medium of expression for the human soul. It has the power to evoke emotions, paint vivid pictures, and transport us to different worlds. One such poem that has stood the test of time is "Robin Hood, A Child" by Leigh Hunt. This classic piece of literature is a beautiful portrayal of the legendary hero, Robin Hood, and his adventures in the forest.

The poem begins with a description of Robin Hood as a child, playing in the forest with his companions. The imagery used by the poet is vivid and enchanting, painting a picture of a magical world where the trees whisper secrets and the birds sing sweet melodies. The use of personification is also evident in the lines, "The trees that whisper round a temple become soon/A mute and pallid flock before a shrine." This personification adds depth to the poem and makes it more relatable to the reader.

As the poem progresses, we see Robin Hood grow into a brave and fearless young man. He becomes the leader of a band of outlaws who live in the forest and protect the poor from the tyranny of the rich. The poet describes Robin Hood's exploits in great detail, from his daring raids on the rich to his acts of kindness towards the poor. The use of alliteration in the lines, "And the rich man's gold is a golden lure/And the poor man's life is a thing secure," adds a musical quality to the poem and makes it more enjoyable to read.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is the way it portrays Robin Hood as a hero who fights for justice and equality. The poet highlights the injustices of the feudal system and the plight of the poor who are oppressed by the rich. Robin Hood becomes a symbol of hope for the poor, a beacon of light in a world of darkness. The lines, "And the poor man's life is a thing secure/And the rich man's gold is a golden lure," encapsulate the theme of the poem and make it a powerful commentary on social inequality.

Another interesting aspect of the poem is the way it uses nature as a metaphor for human emotions. The forest becomes a symbol of freedom and rebellion, a place where Robin Hood and his band of outlaws can be themselves and fight for what they believe in. The use of imagery in the lines, "And the forest's heart is a brave man's shrine," adds depth to the poem and makes it more meaningful.

The poem also explores the theme of loyalty and friendship. Robin Hood's companions are described as a loyal and devoted band of brothers who stand by him through thick and thin. The poet uses the metaphor of a family to describe their relationship, highlighting the importance of loyalty and friendship in a world where trust is hard to come by.

In conclusion, "Robin Hood, A Child" is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a beautiful portrayal of the legendary hero, Robin Hood, and his adventures in the forest. The poem explores themes of justice, equality, loyalty, and friendship, making it a powerful commentary on the human condition. The use of vivid imagery, personification, and alliteration adds depth to the poem and makes it a joy to read. Overall, "Robin Hood, A Child" is a masterpiece of literature that continues to inspire and enchant readers to this day.

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