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There is no doubt that Marian is a gutsy, courageous presence in the classic ballads. In one version of her entry into the band of Merry Men, disguised in male costume, she challenges Robin, himself disguised, to a duel with swords, and gives as good as she gets:

They drew out their swords, and to cutting they went,
At least an hour or more,
That the blood ran apace from bold Robin’s face,
And Marian was wounded sore.

“O hold thy hand,” said Robin Hood.
“And thou shalt be one of my string,
“To range in the wood with bold Robin Hood,
“And hear the sweet nightingall sing.”

Note that it is Robin who concedes the contest. Far from being embarrassed when they discover each other’s true identities, he welcomes her with open arms into the woodland fraternity. She is already Robin’s lover, as an earlier verse of the ballad makes clear –

With kisses sweet their red lips meet,
For shee and the earl did agree;
In every place, they kindly imbrace,
With love and sweet unity.

- but now she is also his equal in the band.

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1 Comment:

  1. jo oliver said...
    I am almost ashamed to say that I have never read Robin Hood. Watched the 38 movie and the Costner movie, but never read the book. If classic book to movies such as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, etc are any test...then I would imagine the Robin Hood books are much better than film.

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