Friday, December 14, 2007

O Tannenbaum Alternative Lyrics

The English translations of O Tannenbaum are often clunky, and not everyone enjoys slogging through the song auf Deutsch (as my cousin and I do).

So I got a special kick out of a skit on Prairie Home Companion recently that showed how a couple of classic poems fit nicely with the tune.

Bonus! The poems are both old enough to be in the public domain (see Lolly Gasaway's handy chart).

So hum along to the following -- perhaps you'll want to add them to your holiday repertoire!

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (1923)

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Source: Representative Poetry Online.

For the next one you have to lop off a couple of stanzas (or cycle through more than once):

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

[Here I'd repeat the first stanza and stop.]

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Source: Bartleby. (Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern American Poetry. 1919.)

PS You can also use the tune of "Hernando's Hideaway" or "Gilligan's Island."

Photo from NASA. During the Apollo program, a seedling tree from each state was taken to the moon and back. Washington's was this Douglas fir (our state tree), which is now on the Capitol grounds in Olympia. Click here for more about the "moon trees" around the country.

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