Wednesday, December 2, 2009



1 Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Called Robin Goodfellow. Are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery,
5 Skim milk, and sometimes labor in the quern

And bootless make the breathless housewife churn,

And sometime make the drink to bear no barm,

Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that “Hobgoblin” call you, and “sweet Puck,”
10 You do their work, and they shall have good luck.

Are not you he?


1 Thou speak’st aright.  
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
5 Neighing in likeness of a filly foal.
And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.
10 The wisest aunt telling the saddest tale
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me.
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And “Tailor!” cries, and falls into a cough,
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,

Modern English


1 Unless I’m mistaken,
you’re that mischievous and naughty spirit
named Robin Goodfellow. Aren’t you the one
who goes around scaring the maidens in the village,
5stealing the cream from the top of the milk, screwing up the flour mills,
and frustrating housewives by keeping their milk from turning into butter?
Aren’t you the one who keeps beer from foaming up as it should,
and causes people to get lost at night, while you laugh at them? Some people call you “Hobgoblin” and “sweet Puck,”
10 and you’re nice to them. You do their work for them and give them good luck.
That’s you, right?


1 What you say is true. That’s me you’re talking about,
the playful wanderer of the night.
I tell jokes to Oberon and make him smile.
I’ll trick a fat, well-fed horse into
5 thinking that I’m a young female horse.
Sometimes I hide at the bottom of an old woman’s drink disguised as an apple.
When she takes a sip, I bob up against her lips
and make her spill the drink all over her withered old neck.
10 Sometimes a wise old woman with a sad story to tell
tries to sit down on me, thinking I’m a three-legged stool.
But I slip from underneath her and she falls down,
crying, “Ow, my butt!” and starts coughing,
and then everyone laughs and has fun.



1Si yo no confundo tu forma y aspecto,
tú eres el espíritu bribón y travieso
que llaman RobIn. ¿No eres tú, quizá?
¿Tú no asustas a las mozas del lugar,
5 trasteas molinillos, la leche desnatas,

haces que no saquen manteca en las casas

o que la cerveza no levante espuma,

se pierda el viajero de noche, y te burlas?
A los que te llaman «el trasgo» y «buen duende»
10 te agrada ayudarles, y ahí tienen suerte.

¿No eres el que digo?


1 Muy bien me conoces:
yo soy ese alegre andarín de la noche.
Divierto a Oberón, que ríe de gozo
si burlo a un caballo potente y brioso
5 relinchando a modo de joven potrilla.
Acecho en el vaso de vieja cuentista
en forma y aspecto de manzana asada;
asomo ante el labio y, por la papada,
cuando va a beber, vierto la cerveza.
10 Al contar sus cuentos, esta pobre vieja
a veces me toma por un taburete:
le esquivo el trasero, al suelo se viene,
grita «¡Qué culada!», y tose sin fin.
Toda la compaña se echa a reír,

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