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The Four Angels

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Martin Simpson]

The Four Angels is a poem from Rudyard Kipling's book Actions and Reactions, and was collected in his Songs from Books (1913). Martin Simpson sang it in 2001 on his Topic album The Bramble Briar. He commented in his sleeve notes:

I always enjoyed Peter [Bellamy]'s settings of the Rudyard Kipling poems and I was greatly surprised while reading Songs from Books to find that I had come up with a tune to The Four Angels. I think it is an eerily timely lyric.

Jon Boden sang The Four Angels as the March 2, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Lyrics

As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree,
The Angel of the Earth came down, and offered Earth in fee.
      But Adam did not need it,
      Nor the plough he would not speed it,
  Singing:—“Earth and Water, Air and Fire,
      What more can mortal man desire?”
          (The Apple Tree's in bud.)

As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree,
The Angel of the Waters offered all the Seas in fee.
      But Adam would not take 'em,
      Nor the ships he wouldn't make 'em,
  Singing:—“Water, Earth and Air and Fire,
      What more can mortal man desire?”
          (The Apple Tree's in leaf.)

As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree,
The Angel of the Air he offered all the Air in fee.
      But Adam did not crave it,
      Nor the flight he wouldn't brave it,
  Singing:—“Air and Water, Earth and Fire,
      What more can mortal man desire?”
          (The Apple Tree's in bloom.)

As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree,
The Angel of the Fire rose up and not a word said he.
      But he wished a fire and made it,
      And in Adam's heart he laid it,
  Singing.—“Fire, fire, burning Fire,
      Stand up and reach your heart's desire!”
          (The Apple Blossom's set.)

As Adam was a-working outside of Eden-Wall,
He used the Earth, he used the Seas, he used the Air and all;
      And out of black disaster
      He arose to be the master
  Of Earth and Water, Air and Fire,
      But never reached his heart's desire!
          (The Apple Tree's cut down!)