Oak, Ash, and Thorn

Rudyard Kipling's "A Tree Song" sets the scene for the stories and poems of Puck of Pook's Hill. This setting is by the late Peter Bellamy, to his own tune. We also use the song as a scene setter, a "calling-on song." The magic of trees lies deep in the roots of Druidic religion and mythology, and the oak, ash and thorn are central characters of the bardic tree-alphabets. Much of this tree lore has survived in folk tales, in English as well as in Celtic tradition.

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 on a midsummer's morn,
     Surely we sing of no little thing
     In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.

Oak of the clay lived many a day o'er ever Aeneas began,
Ash of the loam was a lady at home when Brut was an outlaw man,
And Thorn of the down saw new Troy town,from which was London born,
Witness hereby the ancient try 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 you have killed, and your bowl it is filled, and your shoes are clean outworn,
Back you must speed for all that you need to Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.

Elm, she hates mankind, and waits 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'll take no wrong when he lyeth along 'neath Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.

Oh, do not tell the priest our plight, or he would call it a sin,
But we've been out in the woods all night, a-conjuring summer in,
And we bring you good news by word of mouth, good news for cattle and corn:
Now is the sun come up from the south, by Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.

© Golden Hind Music