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Origins: Logs to Burn

DigiTrad:
LOGS TO BURN
MORE WOOD
THE WOODCUTTER'S SONG


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Firewood Song? / Woodcutter's Song (31)
Folklore: firewood that is good to burn (35)
Lyr Req: Logs to burn (closed) (4) (closed)
Lyr Req: Trees (Walter de la Mare) (10)


Menolly 07 Sep 03 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,jennifer 07 Sep 03 - 04:18 PM
Murray MacLeod 07 Sep 03 - 05:01 PM
open mike 07 Sep 03 - 05:23 PM
Menolly 07 Sep 03 - 06:15 PM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Sep 03 - 10:11 AM
GUEST,jennifer 08 Sep 03 - 12:56 PM
Saro 15 Feb 07 - 02:03 PM
bubblyrat 15 Feb 07 - 07:30 PM
katlaughing 15 Feb 07 - 07:34 PM
Joe Offer 16 Feb 09 - 07:56 PM
Joe Offer 16 Feb 09 - 09:05 PM
Rabbi-Sol 17 Feb 09 - 12:03 AM
Joe Offer 17 Feb 09 - 12:23 AM
Jack Blandiver 17 Feb 09 - 04:54 AM
Jack Blandiver 17 Feb 09 - 05:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 17 Feb 09 - 08:02 AM
Jack Blandiver 17 Feb 09 - 09:16 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 30 Oct 10 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 31 Oct 10 - 04:41 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 31 Oct 10 - 04:41 AM
GUEST,guest 04 Jul 13 - 05:06 PM
Joe Offer 20 Dec 14 - 06:50 PM
Joe Offer 07 Sep 18 - 01:54 AM
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Subject: Logs to burn
From: Menolly
Date: 07 Sep 03 - 04:14 PM

Inthe song there is a line -
Cherry logs, across the dogs, they smell like flowers in bloom.

Anyone know what "across the dogs" means?


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Subject: RE: Logs to burn
From: GUEST,jennifer
Date: 07 Sep 03 - 04:18 PM

It's the iron bits each side of the fire that the logs sit on!


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Subject: RE: Logs to burn
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 07 Sep 03 - 05:01 PM

Technically, the dogs are the iron supports which hold the grate basket, which in turn supports the logs.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Logs to burn
From: open mike
Date: 07 Sep 03 - 05:23 PM

THE FIRSTR THING THAT JUMPED INTO MY MIND
(THREAD CREEP) was "boats to build" a
guy clark song see:
Boats to Build


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Subject: RE: Logs to burn
From: Menolly
Date: 07 Sep 03 - 06:15 PM

Ofcourse, firedogs! Should have thought of that! Thanks


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Logs to burn
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Sep 03 - 10:11 AM

Has anybody any ideas about a similar song for Australian woods.

There may be no song as yet written, of course, but at least some of the timbers are totally different from English, or American.

Just a thought...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Logs to burn
From: GUEST,jennifer
Date: 08 Sep 03 - 12:56 PM

There's another line in the rhyme which I've always found ambiguous "Scots logs it is a crime for anyone to sell" does it mean they're rubbish or that they're so good you should keep them for yourself?


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Subject: RE: Logs to burn
From: Saro
Date: 15 Feb 07 - 02:03 PM

I've just come across a version of this song with the words credited to Honor Goodhart. I've always wondered if it was really a traditional song, so can anyone shed any more light on the subject?
Hope so...
Saro


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Subject: RE: Logs to burn
From: bubblyrat
Date: 15 Feb 07 - 07:30 PM

SARO ?? That used to be a famous British aircraft manufacturer !! It was short for "Saunders-Roe ", but their 'planes were always known as a 'Saro' this ,or a 'Saro' that. Hope you don't mind me telling you that !!


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Subject: Lyr Add: LOGS TO BURN (Goodhart/Adams)
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Feb 07 - 07:34 PM

This Site also lists Goodhart
LOGS TO BURN
Words Honor Goodhart, music Kevin Adams

Oak logs will warm you well, if they're old and dry.
Larch logs of pinewoods smell but the sparks will fly.
Beech logs for Christmas time; yew tree logs heat well;
But green elder logs it is a crime for anyone to sell-oh, for anyone to sell.

Birch logs will burn too fast; chestnut scarce at all;
Hawthorn logs are good to last if cut in the fall.
Holly logs will burn like wax, you should burn them green;
Elm logs like smouldering flax, no flame to be seen-oh, no flame to be seen.

Pear logs and apple logs, they will scent your room;
Cherry logs across the dogs smell like flowers in bloom,
Ash logs all smooth and grey burn them green or old,
And buy up all that come your way they're worth their weight in gold-oh
They're worth their weight in gold.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 07:56 PM

"LOGS TO BURN."

"Logs to burn; logs to burn;
Logs to save the coal a turn."

Here’s a word to make you wise
When you hear the wood-man’s cries;
Never heed his usual tale
That he has splendid logs for sale,
But read these lines and really learn
The proper kinds of logs to burn.

Oak logs will warm you well
If they’re old and dry;
Larch logs of pine woods smell,
But the sparks will fly.
Beech logs for Christmas-time,
Yew logs heat well;
"Scotch" logs it is a crime
For anyone to sell.

Birch logs will burn too fast,
Chestnut scarce at all;
Hawthorn logs are good to last
If cut in the Fall.
Holly logs will burn like wax,
You should burn them green;
Elm logs like smouldering flax,
No flame to be seen.

Pear logs and apple logs,
They will scent your room;
Cherry logs across the dogs
Smell like flowers in bloom.
But Ash logs, all smooth and grey,
Burn them green or old;
Buy up all that come your way,
They’re worth their weight in gold.


Published unattributed in Punch Magazine, Volume 159, October 27, 1920 (click - large file). On this page (click), the page author claims that the poem was written by his/her grandmother, Honor Goodhart, during the 1926 (sic) coal strike in England. The writer claims the poem was set to music by Golden Bough, a Northern California Celtic group. I don't know how much of this to believe. I learned the song from the Golden Bough recording, but their CD says the song is traditional. Seems we need more research. Discrepancies in the details raise a question as to the credibility of the whole - so did Honor Goodhart write the poem in Punch? I dunno - apparently, nothing published in Punch at the time was attributed.
Anybody have the Johnny Collins recording? How about the one from Kevin Adams?
-Joe-


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Subject: ADD Version: Logs to Burn
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 09:05 PM

Here's my transcription of the Golden Bough recording:

LOGS TO BURN                  
Traditional
as Sung by Golden Bough on "Winter's Dance"

CHORUS
Logs to Burn! Logs to Burn!
Logs to save the coal a turn.
Here's a word to make you wise
When you hear the woodsman cry.

Beechwood logs burn bright and clear, hornbeam blazes too,
If the logs are kept are kept a year to season through and through.
(CHORUS)

Pine is good and so is yew for warmth for wintry days
The poplar and the willow too, they take too long to blaze.
(CHORUS)

Oak logs will warm you well if they're old and dry.
Larch logs like pinewood smell, but the sparks will fly.
(CHORUS)

Birch logs will burn too fast, alder scarce at all.
Chestnut logs are good to last, cut them in the fall.
(CHORUS)

Holly logs will burn like wax, you should burn them green.
Elder logs like smoldering flax, no flames with them are seen.
(CHORUS)

Pear logs and apple logs, they will scent your room.
Cherry logs across the dogs, they smell like flowers in bloom.
(CHORUS)

Ash logs are smooth and grey, burn them green or old.
Buy up all that come your way, they're worth their weight in gold.
(CHORUS)


Mind you, this song is very important to me because I heat my house with wood. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it. For those of you not quite fit enough to deal with your own firewood, perhaps you should find a Woman With a Chainsaw.

-Joe, who has two of his own chainsaws-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 12:03 AM

I have this song recorded by Sally Rogers.

SOL


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 12:23 AM

What's the name of the Sally Rogers album, Sol?
Do the liner notes give any information on the background of the song or the songwriter name?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 04:54 AM

For our version (see www.myspace.com/venereumarvum - song #3 on the player) we took the verses* from the footnote on page 169 of The White Goddess by Robert Graves, which he gives as A charming though emasculated version of the same poem [the Irish Ossianic Song of the Forest Trees to be found in Standish O' Grady's translation in E.M.Hull's Poem Book of the Gael] (is) to be found on Dartmoor. Fortunately, the whole text of Poem Book of the Gael (1913) is on-line Here, from which I've extracted the poem to save you the bother of wading through the somewhat unwieldy document (however so rewarding such wading can be!).   

SONG OF THE FOREST TREES

O MAN that for Fergus of the feasts dost kindle fire,
Whether afloat or ashore burn not the king of woods.

Monarch of Innisfail's forests the woodbine is, whom
none may hold captive ;
No feeble sovereign's effort is it to hug all tough trees
in his embrace.

The pliant woodbine if thou burn, wailings for mis-
fortune will abound,
Dire extremity at weapons' points or drowning in great
waves will follow.

Burn not the precious apple-tree of spreading and low-
sweeping bough ;
Tree ever decked in bloom of white, against whose fair
head all men put forth the hand.

The surly blackthorn is a wanderer, a wood that the
artificer burns not ;
Throughout his body, though it be scanty, birds in their flocks warble.

The noble willow burn not, a tree sacred to poems ;
Within his bloom bees are a-sucking, all love the little
cage.

The graceful tree with the berries, the wizard's tree, the
rowan, burn ;
But spare the limber tree ; burn not the slender hazel.

Dark is the colour of the ash ; timber that makes the
wheels to go ;
Rods he furnishes for horsemen's hands, his form turns
battle into flight.

Tenterhook among woods the spiteful briar is, burn him
that is so keen and green ;
He cuts, he flays the foot, him that would advance he
forcibly drags backward.

Fiercest heat-giver of all timber is green oak, from him
none may escape unhurt ;
By partiality for him the head is set on aching, and by
his acrid embers the eye is made sore.

Alder, very battle-witch of all woods, tree that is hottest
in the fight
Undoubtedly burn at thy discretion both the alder and
whitethorn.

Holly, burn it green ; holly, burn it dry ;
Of all trees whatsoever the critically best is holly.
Elder that hath tough bark, tree that in truth hurts
sore;
Him that furnishes horses to the armies from the sidh
burn so that he be charred.

The birch as well, if he be laid low, promises abiding fortune ;
Burn up most sure and certainly the stalks that bear the
constant pods.

Suffer, if it so please thee, the russet aspen to come head-
long down ;
Burn, be it late or early, the tree with the palsied branch.

Patriarch of long-lasting woods is the yew, sacred to
feasts, as is well-known ;
Of him now build ye dark-red vats of goodly size.

Ferdedh, thou faithful one, wouldst thou but do my
behest :
To thy soul as to thy body, O man, 'twould work ad-
vantage.


Standish Hayes O'Grady

_____


* These are the same words (& the same source) as used by Robin Williamson on the album A Glint at the Kindling, albeit without the Sirs. I've always understood the chorus to be a later addition (by Johnny Collins?). There is no traditional melody for this song - we wrote the one we use, although we couldn't get away from Robin's Sirs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 05:05 AM

I might add that the Digitrad lyrics given Here are Robin Williamson's adaptation as mentioned above. The chorus here is Robin's. Maybe this should be made clear?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 08:02 AM

Thanks for the Punch link, Joe - I didn't notice it before posting the above. It's interesting that we see it (however so vaguely) in the context of the 1920 miners' strike when Honor Goodheart's grandson attributes it to his grandmother in the strike of 1926! At least this gives us an earlier date than Johnny Collins for the logs to burn sequence.

Somewhat confusingly, a website Here sources the text given by Graves (The White Goddess, 1961) to E.M.Hull's Poem Book of the Gael - I've been through the e-version to check, but don't think it does!

Other versions on-line include: This and This; and This brings it back to Dartmoor!

I might add that before coming up with tune we use now (see link in my first post of today above) I used to sing the Graves text (sans chorus) to the morris tune of Idbury Hill (aka London Pride). I only stopped doing this when I found Idbury Hill fitted Kipling's Puck's Song rather better, which meant coming up with another melody for Logs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 09:16 AM

Note to Song of the Forest Trees from Poem Book of the Gael:

" The Lay of the Forest Trees." (sic) Original in Silva
Gadelica, i. p. 245 ; trans., ii. p. 278. This curious poem,
which contains much folk-lore regarding forest-trees,
arose out of the gathering of wood for a fire in the open
air, by a servant or "Man of Smoke," as he is called.
He accidentally threw upon it a block around which
woodbine had twined. This called forth a protest from
the onlookers, who declared that the burning of the
woodbine would certainly bring ill-luck.


___________

One wonders if Rudyard Kipling was aware of such things when he wrote A Tree Song (A.D. 1200) (Puck of Pook's Hill, 1906, e-text Here) - a poem which deals in part with the traditional (non-burning) associations of Yew (churchyards & longbows), Alder (shoon), Beech (treen), & Elm (fatalities).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 30 Oct 10 - 08:19 PM

Refresh, as the wood in the wood stove merrily burns...

(I checked Joe's "Punch" link- it was 90 years ago this week!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 31 Oct 10 - 04:41 AM

Recently re-linked to our version HERE, though we haven't actually sang it so far this year - & our wee iron stove still sits cold & dark in my in-law's garage awaiting me opening up the old range breast in the back room which has been on my promising to do list for the past two years...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 31 Oct 10 - 04:41 AM

PS - No folk without fire?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 04 Jul 13 - 05:06 PM

I always thought that Scotch logs were owned by the royals, so you couldn't sell them.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Dec 14 - 06:50 PM

I had thought that Golden Bough made up the tune for "Logs to Burn" and added it to the 1920 Punch lyrics, but I was wrong. Here's an e-mail I received today from Margie Butler of Golden Bough:
    Dear Joe,

    Thanks you so much for your email. I wish I could shed some light on the origin of "Logs To Burn". But, alas
    I can't be of any help. I learned it many years ago, ( in the early '80's) from a folk singer on the West Coast named Linda Curry, who learned it from a singer from the East Coast.

    I'm familiar with "the Woodcutters Song". I learned that version from Robin Williamson from Scotland. I'm sure both songs have the same origins, since the verses are exactly the same.

    Good luck on your search.

    Happy Holidays!
    Margie

Katlaughing posted lyrics above that gives this attribution: Words Honor Goodhart, music Kevin Adams

Could it be that the Goodhart/Adams attribution is correct? The Punch lyrics pre-date the 1926 date given by Goodhart's grandson, so I think we need to keep looking.

Jack, I suppose one could say that "Woodcutter's Song" is an adaptation of "song of the Forest Trees," but I think that's a bit of a stretch. They're the same general idea, but have very little wording in common. It is clear, however, that "Woodcutter" and "Logs to Burn" are closely related because they share a lot of language.

In a 1966 issue of Country Fair Magazine (UK), there's a letter from Honor Goodhart:
    I wrote the lines "Logs to Burn" in 1919 and they were published in "Punch." Some years ago the lines were quoted in "Country Life" as having been found in an old book belonging to the writer's grandmother. All this gives the lines a certain Ossian-like flavour.
    Honor Goodhart, Newbury
So, maybe Honor Goodhart was the author....
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Logs to Burn
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Sep 18 - 01:54 AM

Well, it's September, and we're still in forest fire season here in the Northern California Sierra Foothills. Nonetheless, there's a good chance we'll fire up the woodstove by the end of the month. We use about a cord of wood to heat the house for a season, so I bought my cord of oak for $295 a month ago. After I had my stroke five years ago, I convinced my stepson that I'm too old for stacking and fetching firewood, so he now has that job. But at this time of the year, I start thinking of this song.

And the mystery remains. The poem was unattributed in Punch Magazine in 1920, but there is a claim that the annual index of Punch shows the author as Honor Goodhart. And I thought the melody came from Golden Bough, but Margie Butler of Golden Bough says she learned from a folk singer on the West Coast named Linda Curry, who learned it from a singer from the East Coast. And there's a source that says the tune comes from Kevin Adams, but the Adams Website has no chorus and we don't know what his tune was.

We couldn't have used this song in the Rise Again songbook because our publisher, Hal Leonard, would have insisted that we have a license or prove that the song is in the public domain. I think we're clear on the lyrics being public domain because I found them in print in 1920, but we still can't prove the source of the melody.

Has anybody come up with more information? The mystery remaineth. To my mink, the safest thing to say is that the author of the lyrics and tune is unknown....but I don't think that Hal Leonard would accept that.

Here's a recording by Danny O'Flaherty, with different lyrics:
-Joe-


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