Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936): Oak Ash and Thorn

Lipogram by Timothy Adès

A song for anybody to sing
without avoiding A, I, O, or U

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
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
Sing oak and ash and thorn good sirs
All of a midsummer’s morn
Surely we sing of no little thing
In 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 is spilled
And your shoes are clean outworn
Back ye must speed for all that ye need
To oak and ash and thorn
Sing oak and ash and thorn good sirs
All of a midsummer’s morn
Surely we sing of no little thing
In oak and ash and thorn

Ellum she hates mankind and waits
Till every gust be laid
To drop a limb on the head of him
Who any way 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 lieth along
‘Neath oak and ash and thorn
Sing oak and ash and thorn good sirs
All of a midsummer’s morn
Surely we sing of no little thing
In 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 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’s morn
England shall bide till Judgement Tide
By oak and ash and thorn.

Of trunks and boughs which Luck allows
Fair Albion to adorn,
Naught is so grand in all our land
As oak and ash and thorn.
Sing oak and ash and thorn, good sirs,
All on a long day’s morn:
Good folk shall sing, no paltry thing,
Of oak and ash and thorn.

OAK on our clay saw stop and stay
Troy’s pious lord forlorn;
ASH on our loam saw Brutus roam,
An outlaw put to scorn;
THORN on our Down saw young Troy Town,
From which was London born.
Thus all may know that long ago
Stood oak and ash and thorn.
– Sing oak and ash and thorn, good sirs,
All on a long day’s morn:
Good folk shall sing, no paltry thing,
Of oak and ash and thorn.

TAXUS grows old in churchyard mould
And spawns a mighty bow;
ALNUS is put on snug-shod foot,
FAGUS to cups will go;
A kingdom’s built, a bowl is spilt,
A boot’s cast off, outworn:
You shall go back for what you lack
To oak and ash and thorn.
– Sing oak and ash and thorn, good sirs,
All on a long day’s morn:
Good folk shall sing, no paltry thing,
Of oak and ash and thorn.

ULMUS abhors mankind, and waits
In calm, if not in storm,
To drop a limb on top of him
Who trusts that shady form.
But any lad who’s spry or sad
Or high on hops from horn
Cannot go wrong by lying long
In oak and ash and thorn.
– Sing oak and ash and thorn, good sirs,
All on a long day’s morn
Good folk shall sing, no paltry thing,
Of oak and ash and thorn.

Blurt to no parson of our plight:
A parson calls it sin,
Our frolicking in woods all night
To summon long days in.
Glad tidings run by word of mouth
Of joy for cow and corn,
For now Sir Sun strolls up from south
With oak and ash and thorn.
– Sing oak and ash and thorn, good sirs,
All on a long day’s morn:
Fair Albion shall not pass away
With oak and ash and thorn!

Lipogram: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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