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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Author Unknown

The Merry Pranks of Robin Good-Fellow

FROM Oberon, in fairy-land,

The king of ghosts and shadowes there,

Mad Robin, I, at his command,

Am sent to view the night-sports here.

What revel rout

Is kept about

In every corner where I go,

I will o’ersee,

And merrie be,

And make good sport with ho, ho, ho!

More swift than lightning can I flye

About this aëry welkin soone,

And in a minute’s space descrye

Each thing that’s done belowe the moone.

There’s not a hag

Or ghost shall wag,

Or cry ’Ware goblins! where I go;

But Robin, I,

Their feates will spy,

And send them home with ho, ho, ho!

Whene’er such wanderers I meete,

As from their night-sports they trudge home,

With counterfeiting voice I greete,

And call on them with me to roame

Through woods, through lakes,

Through bogs, through brakes;

Or else unseene, with them I go,

All in the nicke,

To play some tricke,

And frolick it with ho, ho, ho!

Sometimes I meete them like a man,

Sometimes an ox, sometimes a hound;

And to a horse I turn me can,

To trip and trot about them round;

But if to ride,

My backe they stride,

More swift than wind away I goe;

O’er hedge and lands,

Through pools and ponds,

I whirry, laughing ho, ho, ho!

When lads and lasses merry be,

With possets and with junkets fine,

Unseene of all the company,

I eat their cakes and sip their wine;

And to make sport

I fume and snort,

And out the candles do I blow;

The maids I kiss,—

They shrieke, Who’s this?

I answer naught but ho, ho, ho!

Yet now and then, the maids to please,

At midnight I card up their wooll,

And when they sleepe and take their ease,

With wheel to threads their flax I pull.

I grind at mill

Their malt up still;

I dress their hemp, I spin their tow:

If any wake,

And would me take,

I wend me, laughing ho, ho, ho!

When house or hearth doth sluttish lye,

I pinch the maidens black and blue;

The bedd-clothes from the bedd pull I,

And lay them naked all to view.

’Twixt sleepe and wake

I do them take,

And on the key-cold floor them throw;

If out they cry,

Then forth I fly,

And loudly laugh out, ho, ho, ho!

When any need to borrow aught,

We lend them what they do require,

And for the use demand we naught,—

Our owne is all we do desire.

If to repay

They do delay,

Abroad amongst them then I go;

And night by night,

I them afright,

With pinchings, dreams, and ho, ho, ho!

When lazie queans have naught to do

But study how to cog and lye,

To make debate and mischief too,

’Twixt one another secretly,

I marke their gloze,

And it disclose

To them whom they have wrongèd so.

When I have done

I get me gone,

And leave them scolding, ho, ho, ho!

When men do traps and engines set

In loopeholes where the vermine creepe,

Who from their foldes and houses get

Their duckes, and geese, and lambes, and sheepe,

I spy the gin,

And enter in,

And seeme a vermine taken so;

But when they there

Approach me neare,

I leap out, laughing ho, ho, ho!

By wells and rills, in meadowes greene,

We nightly dance our heyday guise,

And to our fairye kinge and queene

We chant our moonlighte minstrelsies.

When larkes ’gin sing,

Away we fling;

And babes new-born steale as we go,

And elfe in bed

We leave instead,

And wend us, laughing ho, ho, ho!

From hag-bred Merlin’s time have I

Thus nightly reveled to and fro;

And for my prankes, men call me by

The name of Robin Good-Fellow.

Friends, ghosts, and sprites

Who haunt the nightes,

The hags and goblins, do me know;

And beldames old

My feates have told—

So vale, vale! Ho, ho, ho!