A Tree Song

by Weather Veins

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about

"A Tree Song" is a poem composed by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), and was featured in the book Puck of Pook's Hill.

When I first read it I felt that there was something profound lurking below its beautiful, Midsummery words. Hence I have added a few extra lines, posing the question: to what does the phrase "Oak, Ash, and Thorn" secretly allude?

I doubt that Kipling ever knew, being but a creature of his time. Nevertheless, I venture the conceit that I might.

I think it right to speak to Kipling's imperialism and racism. Though there is much beauty in his writing, it is important to also remember the cruelty, arrogance, and hatefulness that he manifested as a British colonialist.

This need not necessarily take away from our appreciation of his talents. I feel that it tempers us and challenges us to consider our own limitations, to seek always to grow and to let go of prejudice, both for our benefit and for the benefit of those who unfairly pay the price of bias and oppression.

The composition for this track is entirely mine, and is in no way derived from Peter Bellamy's musical adaptation of the poem, though it is a good one.

First released as part of the Heathen Harvest Midsummer 2014 compilation, available here:
heathenharvest.org/2014/06/17/heathen-harvest-midsummer-compilation-is-now-online/

lyrics

(Original lyrics by Kipling:)

Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun,
Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.
Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs
(All of a Midsummer morn)!
Surely we sing no little thing,
In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oak of the Clay lived many a day
Or ever Aeneas began;
Ash of the Loam was a lady at home
When Brut was an outlaw man.
Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town
(From which was London born);
Witness hereby the ancientry
Of Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Yew that is old in churchyard mould,
He breedeth a mighty bow;
Alder for shoes do wise men choose,
And beech for cups also.
But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,
And your shoes are clean outworn,
Back ye must speed for all that ye need,
To Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth
Till every gust be laid,
To drop a limb on the head of him
That anyway trusts her shade:
But whether a lad be sober or sad,
Or mellow with ale from the horn,
He will take no wrong when he lieth along
'Neath Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
Or he would call it a sin;
But--we have been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring Summer in!

And we bring you news by word of mouth--
Good news for cattle and corn--
Now is the Sun come up from the South,
With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs
(All of a Midsummer morn)!
England shall bide till Judgment Tide,
By Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

(Additional lyrics:)

And I wonder what he was doing
This nineteenth century Christian man
Writing these deep-felt words
About his ancient homeland

What did he mean by these words?
What did they mean by him?
What did they mean by him?
What did he mean?

By oak and ash?
By oak and ash?
By oak and ash?
By oak and ash?

By Tiw, Woden, and Thor!
By Tiw, Woden, and Thor!
By Tiw, Woden, and Thor!
By oak and ash –

credits

released June 21, 2014

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Weather Veins Portland, Oregon

Weather Veins is a healing journey into nature and vulnerability.

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