The Foresters

Act II

Scene II - Another Glade in the Forest.

Alfred Tennyson

ROBIN and MARIAN passing.    Enter FORESTER.

Knight, your good father had his draught of wine,
And then he swooned away. He had been hurt,
And bled beneath his armour. Now he cries,
‘The land! the land!’ Come to him.

                     O my poor father!

Stay with us in this wood till he recover.
We know all balms and simples of the field
To help a wound. Stay with us here, sweet love,
Maid Marian, till thou wed what man thou wilt.
All here will prize thee, honour, worship thee,
Crown thee with flowers; and he will soon be well:
All will be well.

           O, lead me to my father!

[As they are going out, enter LITTLE JOHN and KATE, who falls on the neck of MARIAN.

No, no, false knight, thou canst not hide thyself
From her who loves thee.

By all the devils in and out of hell!
Wilt thou embrace thy sweetheart ’fore my face?
Quick with my sword! the yeoman braves the knight.
There!  (strikes her with the flat of his sword).

    MARIAN (laying about her).
Are the men all mad? there then, and there!

O, hold thy hand! this is our Marian.

What! with this skill of fence! let go mine arm.

Down with thy sword! she is my queen and thine,
The mistress of the band.

    MARIAN (sheathing her sword).
A maiden now
Were ill-bested in these dark days of John,
Except she could defend her innocence.
O, lead me to my father!

[Exeunt Robin and Marian.

                           Speak to me,
I am like a boy now going to be whipt;
I know I have done amiss, have been a fool;
Speak to me, Kate, and say you pardon me!

I never will speak word to thee again.
What! to mistrust the girl you say you love
Is to mistrust your own love for your girl!
How should you love if you mistrust your love?

O Kate, true love and jealousy are twins,
And love is joyful, innocent, beautiful,
And jealousy is wither’d, sour, and ugly;
Yet are they twins and always go together.

Well, well, until they cease to go together,
I am but a stone and a dead stock to thee.

I thought I saw thee clasp and kiss a man,
And it was but a woman. Pardon me.

Ay, for I much disdain thee; but if ever
Thou see me clasp and kiss a man indeed,
I will again be thine, and not till then.


I have been a fool, and I have lost my Kate.


Re-enter ROBIN.

He dozes.  I have left her watching him.
She will not marry till her father yield.
The old man dotes.
Nay—and she will not marry till Richard come,
And that’s at latter Lammas—never perhaps.
Besides, tho’ Friar Tuck might make us one,
An outlaw’s bride may not be wife in law.
I am weary.                     [Lying down on a bank.
What’s here? a dead bat in the fairy ring—
Yes, I remember, Scarlet hacking down
A hollow ash, a bat flew out at him
In the clear noon, and hook’d him by the hair,
And he was scared and slew it. My men say
The fairies haunt this glade;—if one could catch
A glimpse of them and of their fairy queen—
Have our loud pastimes driven them all away?
I never saw them; yet I could believe
There came some evil fairy at my birth
And cursed me, as the last heir of my race:
‘This boy will never wed the maid he loves,
Nor leave a child behind him’ (yawns).  Weary—weary
As tho’ a spell were on me (he dreams).

[The whole stage lights up, and fairies are seen swinging on boughs and nestling in hollow trunks.

TITANIA on a hill. Fairies on either side of her. The moon above the hill.

Evil Fairy! do you hear?
So he said who lieth here.

We be fairies of the wood.
We be neither bad nor good.

Back and side and hip and rib,
Nip, nip him for his fib.

Nip him not, but let him snore.
We must flit for evermore.

Tit, my queen, must it be so?
Wherefore, wherefore should we go?

I Titania bid you flit,
And you dare to call me Tit.

Tit, for love and brevity,
Not for love of levity.

Pertest of our flickering mob,
Wouldst thou call my Oberon Ob?

Nay, an please your Elfin Grace,
Never Ob before his face.

Fairy realm is breaking down
When the fairy slights the crown.

No, by wisp and glowworm, no!
Only wherefore should we go?

We must fly from Robin Hood
And this new queen of the wood.

True, she is a goodly thing.
Jealousy, jealousy of the king!

Nay, for Oberon fled away
Twenty thousand leagues to-day.

Look, there comes a deputation
From our finikin fairy nation.

Enter several FAIRIES.

Crush’d my bat whereon I flew,
Found him dead and drench’d in dew,

Quash’d my frog that used to quack
When I vaulted on his back,

Kill’d the sward where’er they sat,

Lusty bracken beaten flat,

Honest daisy deadly bruised,

Modest maiden lily abused,

Beetle’s jewel armour crack’d,

Reed I rock’d upon broken-back’d,

FAIRIES (in chorus).
We be scared with song and shout,
Arrows whistle all about.
All our games be put to rout.
All our rings be trampled out.
Lead us thou to some deep glen,
Far from solid foot of men,
Never to return again,

Elf, with spiteful heart and eye,
Talk of jealousy? You see why
We must leave the wood and fly.

(To all the FAIRIES who sing at intervals with TITANIA.)

Up with you, out of the forest and over the hills and away,
And over this Robin Hood’s bay!
Up thro’ the light of the seas by the moon’s long-silvering ray!
To a land where the fay,
Not an eye to survey,
In the night, in the day,
Can have frolic and play.
Up with you, all of you, out of it! hear and obey.
Man, lying here alone,
Moody creature,
Of a nature
Stronger, sadder than my own,
Were I human, were I human,
I could love you like a woman,
Man, man,
You shall wed your Marian,
She is true, and you are true.
And you love her and she loves you;
Both be happy, and adieu for ever and for evermore—adieu!

    ROBIN (half waking).
Shall I be happy? Happy vision, stay.

Up with you, all of you, off with you, out of it, over
        the wood and away!

Note.—In the stage copy of my play I have had this Fairy Scene transfered to the end of the Third Act, for the sake of modern dramatic effect.

The Foresters - Contents    |     Act III - Scene - The Crowning of Marian.

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