“There are two kinds of immortality: that which the soul really enjoys
after this life, and that imaginary existence by which men live in
their fame and reputation. The best and greatest actions have proceeded
from the prospect of the one or the other of these; but my design is to
treat only of those who have chiefly proposed to themselves the latter
as the principal reward of their labours.”
Through the centuries, many poets have turned their hand to writing about Robin Hood. In the 1740s, at the height of the neoclassical movement in English culture, John Winstanley reimagined Robin Hood as a classical archer who competed with Apollo.
“…the most selfish hearts should be humanized, and a feeling of love kept alive, reciprocating and reciprocated, between the rich and the poor, the politically great and the socially defenceless, for ever.”
On the same night that Mary Shelley conceived the idea for Frankenstein, her friend, Dr John Polidori, conjured another frightening creature – the vampire. Yet his malevolent vampire was no match for some Italian bandits, it seems.
G. W. M. Reynolds, the “vicious republican” of the Victorian era, attributed the cause of all crime to the the existence of the royal family and the political establishment.
Pierce Egan’s “Robin Hood” was an early Victorian bestseller. In the first edition, Egan also appended a collection of Robin Hood ballads alongside his novel, for which he provided the illustrations.
In 1824, the lawyer, Andrew Kapp, asked, “Do not these creatures, when they are bruised and wounded, shew an equal sense of pain with ourselves? Are not their shrieks and mournful cries, as so many, calls upon their tormentors for pity? And do not their dying pangs, and the painful convulsions of their tortured bodies, cause uneasiness in every human spectator?”
Joseph Ritson stated that the poem was “a dull performance and scarcely merits the care of a modern impression.”
The year is 2073, England is a republic, but an incurable disease is sweeping the earth, decimating its population.
My book on Wat Tyler in medieval and post-medieval literature is now available for preorder on Amazon!