"Woodman! Spare That Tree!" (1837)
The words were taken from a poem published in the
New York Mirror,
written by George Pope Morris, 1802-1864,
The music was composed by Henry Russell, 1812-1900.
Woodman spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough;
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'll protect it now;
'Twas my fore father's hand
That placed it near the 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 hack it down?
Woodman, forbear thy stroke!
Cut not its earth, bound ties;
Oh! spare that ag-ed oak
Now towering to the skies!
When but a idle boy
I sought its grateful shade;
In all their gushing joy
Here, too, my sisters played.
My mother kiss'd me here;
My father press'd 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.
This poem and song and the
conservation sentiments they embodied were in fact so popular (we know
of at least 12 printed editions of the sheet music), that it spawned
numerous other compositions and variations based on Russell's music.
For example, here is a MIDI of the "Woodman
Spare That Tree Quickstep" composed by Alan Dodworth in
1848. Stay tuned for our next episode, where we will present the Woodman
Spare That Tree Polka, and Variations On Woodman Spare That Tree.
The poem itself
was so popular, that other composers also tried their hand at creating
scores for the poetry. Here is the first part of a choral composition
by W. J. Wakelam composed in 1840 for the poem Woodman
Spare That Tree. I am still working on transcribing the rest
of this unique work.