Robin Hood and Maid Marion

A legend for 600 years, Robin Hood remains a popular hero, in part because the rich continue to take from the poor, and the poor wish for a popular hero to restore what is rightfully their own. Plays and ballads about Robin Hood and Maid Marion are part of May Day (Beltane) revels, with Robin as the May King, a later representation of the Green Man. Marion is the Queen of the May.

I like Maid Marion’s character; she is intelligent, skilled, strategic, and loyal. She is as active as the hero in their shared journey. Often the story or play features either the Hero’s Journey (Water of Life) or the Heroine’s (Waiting for Baba Yaga). With these two the journey is intertwined, and both influence the outcome.

Marion & Robin:

A May Day Mummer’s Play

Arranged by Chuck and Lola Wilcox


Much the Miller’s son, in motley
Lady Marion, in green, wearing a sword
Robin Hood, in green, with bow, arrows and quarterstaff
John Little, with a quarterstaff
William Red, with a sword
Tuck the Friar, in Franciscan robes, a wine bottle on his belt

MUCH: In come I, Much the Miller’s son,
With games of May and springtime fun.
So this sweet earth may grow and thrive,
All we will dance the ground alive.
But first, our Lady Marion
Will grace us with her word anon.
And then we’ll show Green Robin’s play;
So come in Maid Marion and lead the way.

MARION: In come I, Maid Marion –
Green Lady, Queen of the May.
Begin these festive games, I say.
With a crown of flowers in my hair,
I come willingly to those who love the fair.
The word I give is ‘wonderfulness’;
I hope that each of you it bless.
To stir your hearts and make them good
We’ll show this play of Robin Hood.

MUCH: All on this greensward you shall see,
Those of merit numbered three;
John Little, William Red, Tuck the Friar
On Robin Hood will show their ire.
Now, come in Jolly Robin,
And boldly begin.

ROBIN: In comes I, bold Robin Hood.
I am the king of this green wood.
The sheriff would cut down our trees,
Quank the flowers, and kill the breeze.
I have no band of merry ones
To stop the sheriff and make him run.
These are my arrows and this my bow,
This is my horn and on it I blow
This is my quarter-staff very stout
With any intruder I’ll have a bout.
When danger comes near –
I have nothing to fear.

(John whistles.)

ROBIN: Who is he who whistles so spry?
Here is one on whom I will try.

MUCH: Come in, come in, John Little!

JOHN: In come I, big John Little.
For bragging, I care not a tittle.
With this staff I’m a some’at good hand,
If one too bold does make me stand.

ROBIN: I am one who dares thee to stand!
Thy strength’s in thy mouth and not in thy hand.
So, take thy ward; let’s try thy mettle,
For soon I’ll make thy bones to rattle.

JOHN: This babbling brook divides us two,
Or I would quickly show to you
Where my strength lies…

ROBIN: …But there’s a log.
Reach it across and we can jog
On it a bout or two.

JOHN: Merry, have with you!

(JOHN reaches “log” across and both go to middle. They fight with quarter-staffs. JOHN knocks ROBIN into water. Much laughs. Robin blows horn one blast. Much stops laughing and approaches the brook with Marion.)

JOHN: My name’s John Little, what is thine?

ROBIN: Bold Robin Hood, that name is mine.

JOHN: Aye! Now, I fear you love me not,
I came to join thee, not make it hot.
To you I came to say “well met”,
Not tumble thee into this runlet.

ROBIN: If you join me and my merry ones,
We can stop the sheriff and make him run.

JOHN: I will join thee with good will!

MUCH: To this lady pledge your skill.

(John drops to one knee.)

MARION: John Little, thou art welcome much,
For thy strength with staff is such;
Now, Robin Hood can cease to grutch,
He’s found one gives a mighty scutch.

ROBIN: Now, all is even and I con,
Thy forest name is Little John.
Pray, sir, art thou content?

JOHN: A goodly name; and well is meant.

(Singing “Lightly sings the whippoorwill”, off stage.)

ROBIN: Who’s this singing in the wood?

MUCH: Come in, come in, William Red!

WILL: (Singing) In come I,
A young man known as Will.
Such songs I have your heart I’ll fill.
Who are you, I’d like to know,
Standing wet in the water’s flow?

ROBIN: Lightly sings the whippoorwill,
And so sweetly it doth trill.
On top his head is hair so red
He’s not to look on with much dread.

WILL: Look you, I don’t like what you say
Let me pass over and be on my way.
If you don’t let me pass
This day will be your last.

ROBIN: What’s this, another test toward?
Stand close and give to me a sword. (Marion gives him her sword)
Hold Fellow! To empty thy purse, I think it well
Since my merry strokes will cause you to fell!

WILL: Wherefore dost thou do this to me?

ROBIN: To be in this forest you are not free;
So, take thy ward; let’s try thy mettle,
For soon I’ll make thy bones to rattle.

(They fight. Robin loses sword; Will ‘cuts’ him under chin. Robin blows his horn, two blasts. Comes in Much, John, and Marion.)

WILL: My name is William Red. What is thine?

ROBIN: Bold Robin Hood, that name is mine.

WILL: Then, well you know me, for of old,
We were cousins in the fold
Of our dear uncle.
Now I’ve nicked your caruncle.
I fear you will love me not
For with my sword I made it hot

ROBIN: If you join me and my merry ones,
We can stop the sheriff and make him run.

WILL: I will join thee with good will!

MUCH: To the Lady pledge your skill.

MARION: William Red, thou art welcome much,
For thy skill with sword is such,
Now, Robin Hood can cease to grutch,
He’s found one gives a cunning scutch.

(Will kneels to the Lady Marion.)

ROBIN: Since thou art such a pretty varlet,
Thy forest name is Will Scarlet.

WILL: Will Scarlet! Well, I like that much.

MUCH: And well you suit the name as such.

MARION: Come all and we will dance and feast
None of us shall be the least!

(Marion, John and Will leave.)

MUCH: Come in! Come in jolly Friar Tuck.
With this one comes our triple luck.

ROBIN: But, who comes here? A lazy friar?
I’ll make him carry me out of the mire.

FRIAR: (Laughing) Deus hic! Deus hic! God is here!
Holy words for a jolly frere.
God save this company by and by.
A jolly friar am not I?

ROBIN: (From the brook) Yield thee, friar, in thy long coat!

FRIAR: Beshrew thy heart, thou quacklest my throat!

ROBIN: I think thou shalt carry me from this mire.

FRIAR: Then thou places thyself in peril most dire.

ROBIN: I trow friar, thou art weak knolled.
Who made thee be so brash and bold,
To come into this forest here,
And play among my fallow deer?

FRIAR: Go to and louse thee, ragged knave!
You are enough to make me rave.
To seek Robin Hood come I here;
My true heart to him only will I bare.

ROBIN: Thou lousy friar, what wouldst thou of him?
He never loved friar, nor none of friar’s kin.

(Robin leaves the water and goes to the Friar. Much sits down to watch.)

FRIAR: Avaunt, thou knave, and quit my eye,
Or thou shalt have a knuckle pie! (Threatens with fist)

ROBIN: Harken to me, friar, what I say here;
Over this water thou shalt me bear.

FRIAR: That thou that side of water lack,
I could not give a pin.
A friar who bears thee on his back
Commits a grievous sin.

ROBIN: Nay, have over! (Robin threatens w/sword. Friar takes Robin on his back and starts into the brook.)

FRIAR: Now am I, friar, within, and thou, a clown, without;
To lay thee in the water, I have no great doubt.
(Throws Robin down into the water)
Now am I, friar, without, and thou, a fool, within!
Lie there, knave, and choose if thou wilt sink or swim.

ROBIN: Thou lousy knave, what hast thou done?

FRIAR: I’ve set a clown within thy shoen.

ROBIN: You’ll pay for this! (They fight. Friar shows great skill; parries with loaf of bread and leather tankard, disarming Robin, who blows three blasts. Marion, John, and Will enter. Friar takes up Robin’s weapon and comes on guard.)

FRIAR: Come on apace, I’ll fight you all.
And soon I’ll give you each a fall.

MARION: Nay, good friar, stay thy hand;
We are all of Robin Hood’s band.

ALL: We are all of Robin Hood’s band.

ROBIN: How say’st thou, friar, wilt be my man,
To do the best service that you can?
If you join us we’ll have some fun –
We can stop the sheriff and make him run.

FRIAR: I will join thee with good will!

MUCH: To the Lady pledge your skill.

FRIAR: (Kneels to Marion.) As my name’s Friar Tuck,
I know I’ll bring good luck.
To all that we may do in this green wood
I’ll bring the blessing of the rood. (Crosses himself.)

MARION: This is how Robin’s band is won.
Now our play is done; bless us all and one.
So this sweet earth may grow and thrive,
We’ll dance the May to sing the wood alive.
So this sweet earth may grow and thrive,
All we will dance the ground alive.



The Hero/ine’s Journey

Home: Robin’s journey begins when the Sheriff of Nottingham confiscates his inheritance at his father’s death. There are various versions of how Robin is forced to leave home, and is declared an outlaw. In one story Robin fights in the Crusades with King Richard the Lion Hearted, returning to England at Richard’s command to explore news of how evilly Richard’s brother John is ruling England. John and the Sheriff are in cahoots.

Call: Robin is declared an outlaw by the Sheriff.

Tenemos: Determined to remain free, he enters the Tenemos of Sherwood Forest.
On his journey Robin is joined and supported by a band of merry men and women who live with him in Sherwood Forest. One clue that he is The Green Man is that he and his band all wear Lincoln Green. They rob the rich and give to the poor.

The Heroine, the Fair Lady, is Maid Marion. Her dower, as well as her person, is desired by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Marion often enters Sherwood Forest to be with Robin and his Merry Band, and participates in some of their adventures.

Road of Trials: There are many adventures involving the robbing of the rich/giving to the poor, archery contests, fights with the Sheriff and his men, and rescuing Maid Marion.

Nigredo: In the long arc of the story, the Nigredo comes with the Sherriff’s imprisonment of Lady Marion and Robin’s choice to captured to save her.

Gate Out: They both escape the prison.

Return: The true King, Richard, returns, and his evil brother deposed. Robin and Marian given back their lands, and marry.

  • Pyle, Howard. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Whitman Publishing Company, 1950.
  • McSpadden, J. Walker. Robin Hood and His Merry Outlaws. The World Publishing Company. 1946.