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A Three-Part Song

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy; notes on A Three-Part Song at the Kipling Society]

A Three-Part Song is a poem from Rudyard Kipling’s book Puck of Pook’s Hill. Peter Bellamy sang it with former Young Tradition band mates Royston Wood and Heather Wood in 1970 on his first album of songs set to Kipling’s poems, Oak, Ash & Thorn. This track was also included on his Free Reed anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes. Peter Bellamy noted on the original album:

A Three-Part Song, a simple hymn in praise of Sussex, appears with the story Dymchurch Flit. It is interesting to note that Kipling lived for some years in the village of Rottingdean, where he must certainly have heard the harmonious singing of the Copper family, who have lived there for centuries, and who live there still. A character called “Young Copper” is referred to in Marklake Witches; perhaps this song was written with the Coppers in mind. The tune is loosely based on Jockey to the Fair, an English Morris.

White Hart sang A Three-Part Song in 1979 on their Traditional Sound Recordings album In Search of Reward.

Jackie Oates sang A Three-Part Song on Folk Police Recordings’ 2011 album of songs from Kipling’s “Puck” stories, Oak Ash Thorn.


A Three-Part Song

I’m just in love with all these three,
The Weald an’ the Marsh an’ the Down countrie;
Nor I don’t know which I love the most,
The Weald or the Marsh or the white chalk coast!

I’ve buried my heart in a ferny hill,
Twix’ a liddle low shaw an’ a great high gill.
Oh, hop-bine yaller an’ wood-smoke blue,
I reckon you’ll keep her middling true!

I’ve loosed my mind to out an’ run
On a Marsh that was old when Kings begun:
Oh, Romney level an’ Brenzett reeds,
I reckon you know what my mind needs!

I’ve given my soul to the Southdown grass,
An’ sheep-bells tinkled where you pass.
Oh, Firle an’ Ditchling an’ sails at sea,
I reckon you keep my soul for me!