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That old familiar tree,
When but an idle boy
My heart strings round thee cling,
(Woodman, Spare that Tree ! by G.P. Morris)
get an old 1930s-1940s recording of Phil Harris,
the big band leader and voice of Baloo in
Jungle Book, singing a comical version
of the poem which Phil Harris re-titled:
Woodman Spare that Tree for Me !
The lyrics are as follows ...
Phil Harris comical rendition
There is a tree grows near our house,
But when my wife gets after me,
But the other day a woodman came round,
I said to him, I said, "Look here my friend,
"Woodman, woodman spare that tree
Go chop an oak, get a birch or pine,
I said to him, I said, "Woody, can you see that hole
Now no one can climb that tree but me,
Now I'm gonna go home and get my wife,
Now you ain't gonna know just where I go,
Woody, you gunna spare that tree
Hold ! But you must make that axe behave
Let us plant throughout our borders,
Rooted deep, oh let them flourish,
Gentle winds will murmur softly,
I think that I shall never see
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
A tree that looks at God all day,
A tree that may in Summer wear
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Poems are made by fools like me,
Fair tree! for thy delightful shade
'Tis just that some return be made;
Sure some return is due from me
To thy cool shadows, and to thee.
When thou to birds dost shelter give,
Thou music dost from them receive;
If travellers beneath thee stay
Till storms have worn themselves away,
That time in praising thee they spend
And thy protecting pow'r commend.
The shepherd here, from scorching freed,
Tunes to thy dancing leaves his reed;
Whilst his lov'd nymph, in thanks, bestows
Her flow'ry chaplets on thy boughs.
Shall I then only silent be,
And no return be made by me?
No; let this wish upon thee wait,
And still to flourish be thy fate.
To future ages may'st thou stand
Untouch'd by the rash workman's hand,
Till that large stock of sap is spent,
Which gives thy summer's ornament;
Till the fierce winds, that vainly strive
To shock thy greatness whilst alive,
Shall on thy lifeless hour attend,
Prevent the axe, and grace thy end;
Their scatter'd strength together call
And to the clouds proclaim thy fall;
Who then their ev'ning dews may spare
When thou no longer art their care,
But shalt, like ancient heroes, burn,
And some bright hearth be made thy urn.
A LITTLE fir grew in the midst of the wood
But a trouble came into his heart one day,
"Oh, why did I wish for golden leaves?"
Then his heart was sad; and he cried, "Alas
Then he sighed and groaned; but his voice was weak
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