The Song of the Oak

G.K. Chesterton

          The Druids waved their golden knives
          And danced around the Oak
          WHen they had sacrificed a man;
          But though the learned search and scan
          No single modern person can
          Entirely see the joke.
          But though they cut the throats of men
          They cut not down the tree,
          And from the blood the saplings spring
          Of oak-woods yet to be.
               But Ivywood, Lord Ivywood,
               He rots the tree as ivy would,
               He clings and crawls as ivy would
               About the sacred tree.

          King Charles he fled from Worcester fight
          And hid him in the Oak;
          In convent schools no man of tact
          Would trace and praise his every act,
          Or argue that he was in fact
          A strict and sainted bloke.
          But not by him the sacred woods
          Have lost their fancies free,
          And though he was extremely big
          He did not break the tree.
               But Ivywood, Lord Ivywood,
               He breaks the tree as ivy would,
               And eats the woods as ivy would
               Between us and the sea.

          Great Collingwood walked down the glade
          And flung the acorns free,
          That oaks might still be in the grove
          As oaken as the beams above,
          When the great Lover sailors love
          Was kissed by Death at aea.
          But though for him the oak-trees fell
          To build the oaken ships,
          The woodman worshipped what he smote
          And honoured even the chips.
               But Ivywood, Lord Ivywood,
               He hates the tree as ivy would,
               As the dragon of the ivy would
               That has us in his grips.

               G. K. Chesterton

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Last modified: 18th December, 1999
Martin Ward, De Montfort University, Leicester.