ROBIN HOOD AND MAID MARIAN
From The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
by Francis James
Marian was not in the earliest of the Robin Hood ballads, and she's not
in many of the later ones. This ballad is from the 17th century and explains
how Marian joined the band. It's much like ballads depicting how Little
John, Will Scarlet and many tradesmen joined the Merry Men. I decided to
include it because it shows that having Marian as a fighter on par with
Robin Hood is not a recent development. It is also one of the few ballads
to make Robin Hood an earl.
Marian's male disguise is often used in film and television versions of the legend, including the 1952 film The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (with Joan Rice as Marian), the "Maid Marian" episode of the 1950s TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood and both 1991 films. In the 2006 TV series Marian disguises herself as a sort-of superhero named The Nightwatchman.
For further information on Marian, check out the article on my Beginner's Guide to Robin Hood section. I also describe the semi-legendary nature of Matilda, one of Marian's supposed names, on my Search for a Real Robin Hood section. The links take you directly to the Marian segments. Also, I have posted a review of the The Forestwife, a young adult novel that focuses on Marian and gives the character a new purpose. This site also features interviews with Theresa Tomlinson, author of the Forestwife trilogy, and Elsa Watson, author of Maid Marian.
See an image of an original edition of this ballad at the Broadside Ballads Online website hosted by the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries.
A bonny fine maid of a noble degree,
Did live in the North, of excellent worth,
a hey down down a down down
Marian calld by name,
she was a gallant dame.
For favour and face, and beauty most rare,
Hellen shee did excell;
For Marian then was praisd of all men
did in the country dwell.
'Twas neither Rosamond nor Jane Shore,
beauty was clear and bright,
That could surpass this country lass,
of lord and knight.
The Earl of Huntington, nobly born,
came of noble blood,
To Marian went, with a good intent,
the name of Robin Hood.
With kisses sweet their red lips meet,
shee and the earl did agree;
In every place, they kindly imbrace,
love and sweet unity.
But fortune bearing these lovers a spight,
soon they were forced to part,
To the merry green wood then went Robin Hood,
a sad and sorrowfull heart.
And Marian, poor soul, was troubled in mind,
the absence of her friend;
With finger in eye, shee often did cry,
his person did much comend.
Perplexed and vexed, and troubled in mind,
drest her self like a page,
And ranged the wood to find Robin Hood,
bravest of men in that age.
With quiver and bow, sword, buckler and all,
armed was Marian most bold,
Still wandering about to find Robin out,
person was better then gold.
Robin Hood, hee himself had disguised,
Marian was strangly attir'd,
That they provd foes, and so fell to blowes,
vallour bold Robin admir'd,
drew out their swords, and to cutting they
an hour or more,
That the blood ran apace from bold Robins face,
Marian was wounded sore.
hold thy hand, hold thy hand,' said Robin
thou shalt be one of my string,
To range in the wood with bold Robin Hood,
hear the sweet nightingall sing.'
Marian did hear the voice of her love,
self shee did quickly discover,
And with kisses sweet she did him greet,
to a most loyall lover.
bold Robin Hood his Marian did see,
lord, what clipping was there!
With kind imbraces, and jobbing of faces,
of gallant cheer.
Little John took his bow in his hand,
wandring in the wood,
To kill the deer, and make good chear,
Marian and Robin Hood.
stately banquet the[y] had full soon,
Where venison sweet they had to eat,
were merry that present hour.
flaggons of wine were set on the board,
merrily they drunk round
Their boules of sack, to strengthen the back,
their knees did touch the ground.
Robin Hood began a health
Marian his onely dear,
And his yeomen all, both comely and tall,
quickly bring up the rear.
in a brave veine they tost off the[ir] bouls,
thus they did remain,
And every cup, as they drunk up,
filled with speed again.
last they ended their merryment,
went to walk in the wood,
Where Little John and Maid Marian
on bold Robin Hood.
sollid content together they livd,
all their yeomen gay;
They livd by their hands, without any lands,
so they did many a day.
now to conclude, an end I will make
time, as I think it good,
For the people that dwell in the North can tell
Marian and bold Robin Hood.
NEXT: Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow