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The Thief at Robin's Castle

Language: English

There came a Thief on night to Robin's Castle
  He climbed up into a Tree;
And sitting with his head among the branches,
  A wondrous Sight did see.

For there was Robin supping at his table,
  With Candles of pure Wax,
His Dame and his two beauteous little Children,
  With velvet on their backs.

Platters for each there were shin-shining,
  Of Silver many a pound
And all of beaten Gold, three brimming Goblets,
  Standing the table round.

The smell that rose up richly from the Baked Meats
  Came thinning amid the boughs,
And much that greedy Thief who snuffed the night air
  His Hunger did arouse.

He watched them eating, drinking, laughing, talking,
  Busy with finger and spoon,
While three most cunning Fiddlers, clad in crimson,
  Played them a supper-tune.

And he waited in the tree-top like a Starling,
  Till the Moon was gotten low;
When all the windows in the walls were darkened,
  He softly in did go.

There Robin and his Dame in bed were sleeping,
  And his Children young and fair;
Only Robin's Hounds from their warm kennels
  Yelped as he climbed the stair.

All, all were sleeping, page and fiddler,
  Cook, scullion, free from care;
Only Robin's Stallions from their stables
  Neighed as he climbed the stair.

A wee wan light the Moon did shed him,
  Hanging above the sea,
And he counted into his Bag (of beaten Silver)
  Platters thirty-three.

Of Spoons three score; of jolly golden Goblets
  He stowed in four save one,
And six fine three-branched Cupid Candlesticks,
  Before his work was done.

Nine bulging bags of Money in a cupboard
  Two Snuffers, and a Dish
He found, the last all studded with great Garnets
  And shapen like a Fish.

Then tiptoe up he stole into a Chamber,
  Where on Tasselled Pillows lay
Robin and his Dame in dreaming slumber,
  Tired with the summer's day.

That Thief he mimbled round him in the gloaming,
  Their Treasures for to spy,
Combs, Brooches, Chains, and Rings, and Pins and Buckles
  All higgledy piggle-dy.

A Watch shaped in the shape of a flat Apple
  In purest Crystal set,
He lifted from the hook where it was ticking
  And crammed in his Pochette.

He heaped the pretty Baubles on the table,
  Trinkets! Knick-knackerie,
Pearls, Diamonds, Sapphires Topazes, and Opals --
  All in his bag put he.

And there in the night's pale Gloom was Robin dreaming
  He was hunting the mountain Bear,
While his Dame in peaceful slumber in no wise heeded
  A greedy Thief was there.

Oh, fairer was their Hair than Gold of Goblet, And

And that ravenous Thief he climbed up even higher,
  Till into a chamber small
He crept where lay poor Robin's beauteous Children,
  Lovelier in sleep withal.

Oh, fairer was their Hair than Gold of Goblet,
  'Yond Silver their Cheeks did shine,
And their little hands that lay upon the linen
  Made that Thief's hard heart to pine.

But though a moment there his hard heart faltered,
  Eftsoons he took them twain,
And slipped them into his Bag with all his Plunder,
  And soft stole down again.

Spoon, Platter, Goblet, Ducats, Dishes, Trinkets,
  And those two Children dear,
A-quaking in the clinking and the clanking,
  And half bemused with fear,

He carried down the stairs into the Courtyard,

He carried down the stairs into the Courtyard,
  But there he made no stay,
He just tied up his Garters, took a deep breath,
  And ran like the wind away.

Past Forest, River, Mountain, River, Forest --
  He coursed the whole night through,
Till morning found him come into a Country,
  Where none his bad face knew.

Past Mountain, River, Forest, River, Mountain--
  That Thief's lean shanks sped on,
Till Evening found him knocking at a Dark House,
  His breath now well-nigh gone.

There came a little maid and asked his Business;
  A Cobbler dwelt within;
And though she much misliked the Bag he carried,
  She led the Bad Man in.

He bargained with the Cobbler for a lodging
  And soft laid down his Sack--
In the Dead of Night, with none to spy or listen,--
  From off his weary back.

And he taught the little Chicks to call him Father,
  And he sold his stolen Pelf,
And bought a Palace, Horses, Slaves, and Peacocks
  To ease his wicked self.

And though the Children never really loved him,
  He was rich past all belief;
While Robin and his Dame o'er Delf and Pewter
  Spend all their Days in Grief.

Confirmed with Peacock Pie. A Book of Rhymes by Walter de la Mare, London: Constable & Co. Ltd., [1920], pages 78-83.

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

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Text added to the website: 2014-03-31.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:05:29
Line count: 110
Word count: 744

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