'Robin Hood' by John Keats

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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.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Robin Hood by John Keats: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Are you ready to dive into the world of Robin Hood? John Keats, a renowned English Romantic poet, portrays Robin Hood, the legendary outlaw, as the embodiment of the free-spirited individual who challenges the oppressive feudal system in his poem, "Robin Hood." This classic poem is not only a thrilling adventure tale but also a reflection of Keats's political and social views. Let's explore the poem's themes, structure, language, and historical context to understand its significance and beauty.

The Poem's Themes

The main themes of "Robin Hood" are freedom, justice, and rebellion. Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men live in Sherwood Forest, where they resist the oppressive rule of Prince John and restore justice to the poor and the oppressed. They refuse to bow down to authority and instead embrace their liberty, which is symbolized by the greenwood, a place of refuge, freedom, and community. The poem celebrates Robin Hood's heroic deeds and his spirit of defiance against the ruling class, who exploit the common people for their own gain. As Keats writes, "And the oak and the ash, and the bonny ivy tree / Are emblem of deeds that are done in their day" (ll. 39-40). The natural world, with its lush vegetation and vibrant wildlife, is a symbol of the abundant life that Robin Hood and his followers enjoy in defiance of the corrupt system.

Another important theme of the poem is the power of storytelling. Keats draws on traditional ballads and legends to create a vivid and captivating narrative that immerses the reader in the world of Robin Hood. The poem's structure, which consists of short, rhymed quatrains, creates a musical rhythm that enhances the storytelling quality of the poem. The repetition of certain phrases, such as "Robin Hood, Robin Hood, bold outlaw of Sherwood," reinforces the oral tradition of ballads and makes the poem memorable and catchy.

The Poem's Structure

"Robin Hood" is a ballad, a narrative poem that tells a story through song or recitation. The poem is divided into 31 quatrains, each consisting of four lines with an ABAB rhyme scheme. The meter is mostly iambic tetrameter, with four stressed syllables per line. This structure gives the poem a musical quality that is characteristic of ballads. The short, rhymed quatrains create a sense of urgency and momentum, as the story moves quickly from one event to the next. The repetition of certain phrases, such as "Robin Hood, Robin Hood, bold outlaw of Sherwood," reinforces the oral tradition of ballads and makes the poem memorable and catchy.

The Poem's Language

Keats's use of language in "Robin Hood" is both simple and evocative. He uses plain, direct language to convey the story's action and dialogue, but he also includes vivid descriptions that create a sense of place and atmosphere. For example, in the opening lines, Keats describes the forest where Robin Hood and his band of outlaws live:

"When the trees are all bare, Not a leaf to be seen, And the fields and the meadows Are withered and green."

These lines create a vivid contrast between the barren world outside the forest and the lush, green world within. The use of alliteration in "fields and meadows" and "withered and green" adds to the musical quality of the poem.

Keats also uses figurative language to create a sense of wonder and magic. For example, in the following lines, he describes the arrival of Robin Hood's followers in Sherwood Forest:

"Then up spoke Robin Hood, And his merry men all, We'll welcome them with a feast In our greenwood hall."

The use of the phrase "greenwood hall" creates a sense of enchantment and mystery, as if the forest itself is a magical place where anything can happen.

The Poem's Historical Context

"Robin Hood" was written in 1818, during a time of political and social upheaval in Britain. The Industrial Revolution was transforming the country, and many people were struggling to adapt to the new economic and social order. The aristocracy and the landed gentry held most of the power and wealth, while the working class suffered from poverty, disease, and exploitation. The poem reflects Keats's sympathy for the plight of the common people and his desire for a more just and equitable society.

The legend of Robin Hood dates back to the late Middle Ages, when England was ruled by a feudal system that oppressed the lower classes. The story of an outlaw who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor appealed to the popular imagination, and Robin Hood became a symbol of resistance against unjust authority. Keats's poem draws on this tradition and updates it for a modern audience, emphasizing the importance of freedom, justice, and community.


"Robin Hood" is a classic poem that combines adventure, romance, and social commentary. Keats's use of language and structure creates a musical and evocative narrative that immerses the reader in the world of Robin Hood and his band of outlaws. The poem celebrates the spirit of rebellion and resistance against oppressive authority, as well as the power of storytelling to inspire and uplift. As we read and interpret "Robin Hood," we can appreciate its timeless themes and its relevance to our own struggles for justice and freedom.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Robin Hood: A Classic Poem by John Keats

John Keats, one of the most celebrated poets of the Romantic era, wrote the classic poem Robin Hood in 1818. The poem is a ballad that tells the story of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. It is a tale of adventure, heroism, and rebellion against tyranny. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its themes, literary devices, and historical context.

The poem begins with a description of the forest where Robin Hood and his men live. The forest is portrayed as a place of freedom and joy, where the birds sing and the deer roam freely. The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, establishing the idea of Robin Hood as a hero who fights for justice and freedom.

The second stanza introduces Robin Hood himself, describing him as a brave and skilled archer who can shoot an arrow with deadly accuracy. The stanza also mentions his band of Merry Men, who are loyal to him and share his ideals of justice and freedom. The stanza ends with a reference to the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is Robin Hood's arch-nemesis and represents the oppressive authority that Robin Hood is fighting against.

The third stanza describes Robin Hood's encounter with a stranger who challenges him to a shooting contest. The stranger turns out to be the King of England, who is impressed by Robin Hood's skills and offers him a pardon for his crimes if he will serve the King. Robin Hood refuses, declaring that he will never serve a tyrant. This scene highlights Robin Hood's loyalty to his cause and his refusal to compromise his principles.

The fourth stanza describes Robin Hood's encounter with a poor knight who has been robbed by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin Hood and his men come to the knight's rescue, defeating the Sheriff's men and returning the stolen goods to the knight. This scene highlights Robin Hood's compassion for the poor and his willingness to fight against injustice.

The fifth stanza describes Robin Hood's encounter with a group of monks who are carrying a large sum of money. Robin Hood and his men rob the monks, but instead of keeping the money for themselves, they distribute it among the poor. This scene highlights Robin Hood's complex character, as he is both a thief and a hero who fights for the oppressed.

The sixth and final stanza describes Robin Hood's death. He is betrayed by one of his own men and is mortally wounded in a battle with the Sheriff of Nottingham. As he lies dying, he asks to be buried in the forest where he has lived and fought for so long. This scene highlights the tragic nature of Robin Hood's story, as he is ultimately defeated by the forces of authority and oppression.

The poem is full of literary devices that enhance its themes and imagery. One of the most prominent devices is the use of repetition, particularly in the refrain "Robin Hood, Robin Hood, bold outlaw of Sherwood." This refrain reinforces the idea of Robin Hood as a heroic figure who is both feared and admired.

Another important device is the use of imagery, particularly in the descriptions of the forest and the animals that live there. The forest is portrayed as a place of freedom and joy, while the animals are portrayed as innocent and uncorrupted by human society. This imagery reinforces the idea of Robin Hood as a champion of nature and freedom.

The poem also uses symbolism to convey its themes. For example, the Sheriff of Nottingham represents the oppressive authority that Robin Hood is fighting against, while the forest represents the freedom and rebellion that Robin Hood embodies. The shooting contest with the King of England symbolizes Robin Hood's refusal to compromise his principles, while the encounter with the poor knight symbolizes his compassion for the oppressed.

The historical context of the poem is also important to understanding its themes and imagery. Robin Hood is a legendary figure who is believed to have lived in the 12th or 13th century, during a time of political and social upheaval in England. The poem reflects the Romantic era's fascination with the Middle Ages and its ideals of heroism, freedom, and rebellion against authority.

In conclusion, John Keats' poem Robin Hood is a classic ballad that tells the story of the legendary outlaw and his band of Merry Men. The poem is full of literary devices, imagery, and symbolism that enhance its themes of heroism, freedom, and rebellion against tyranny. The poem's historical context reflects the Romantic era's fascination with the Middle Ages and its ideals of heroism and freedom. Robin Hood remains a beloved figure in popular culture, and Keats' poem continues to inspire and entertain readers today.

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