Eco-communities as a social vision

Eco-communities as a social vision
Egalitarian and ecological communities, like the pictured East Wind (www.eastwind.org), are very close to our vision of an ecological society

17 May, 2009

“Woodman, spare that tree!” by George Pope Morris, 1830: The first protest song for environment?



Rock songs, when sociopolitically orientated, are undoubtedly protest songs. The history of protest songs may be lost in ancient times. There were many references in medieval ages or later about folk singers who critisize or abuse authorities, either cosmic or religious, rebellion songs of any era, etc.

Concerning environmental awareness, we were recently surprised by discovering an american 19th century poem/song about the protection of a tree, the so-called “Woodman spare that tree”. The poem was written by George Pope Morris in 1830. The music was written by Henry Russell. This poem was published in 1837 in the New York Mirror, and was extremely popular in America.

Here are the fascinating lyrics in Old English, in a time when post-materialistic values, especially concerning environment, were practically non-existent, or were eccentric views of some wellfare people. As we see in the above picture (from the book cover of its edition), a well-dressed man asks from the woodman not to cut the tree:


Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'll protect it now.
'Twas my forefather's hand
That placed it near his cot:
There, woodman, let it stand,
Thy axe shall harm it not!

That old familiar tree,
Whose glory and renown
Are spread o'er land and sea,
And wouldst thou hew it down?
Woodman, forbear thy stroke!
Cut not its earth-bound ties;
Oh, spare that aged oak,
Now towering to the skies!

When but an idle boy
I sought its grateful shade;
In all their gushing joy
Here too my sisters played.
My mother kissed me here;
My father pressed my hand --
Forgive this foolish tear,
But let that old oak stand!

My heart-strings round thee cling,
Close as thy bark, old friend!
Here shall the wild-bird sing,
And still thy branches bend.
Old tree! the storm still brave!
And, woodman, leave the spot:
While I've a hand to save,
Thy axe shall harm it not.



You can read more in the following link listening instrumentally the melody of the song:

http://www.contemplator.com/america/woodman.html



YOU CAN HEAR A PERFORMANCE OF THIS SONG HERE

also read about protest songs in wikipedia

11 comments:

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Very nice poem...reminds me of my young time when i also used to write some...:)

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