The Counting Carol

census
Sketch of the bas relief on the Altar of Domitius, showing different stages of a census (the original is one long strip, here split in two.  Judging from the armour, it likely dates from just before the Marian Reforms of 9894 HE.

 

 

sketch

 

The Counting Carol

[parts in italics are sung by all.]

The Romans go from house to house,
Just counting –
The Romans go from house to house
To count each man and dog and mouse,
And grub and flea and bug and louse,
In city, plain and mountain.
And when they knock upon our door
To tally up our stock and store,
Then what shall be our docket score ?
But hark, [knock knock]
But hark, [knock knock]
But hark, I hear them knocking…

I count twelve notes that make a scale.
So one last time, let us regale !
Twelve are the jurors, twelve are the scribes,
Twelve are the inches and twelve are the tribes,
And after a twelvemonth’s high society,
            Then twelve are the steps to dry sobriety.

Eleven players form a team,
Be they ladies, be they gents.

Ten is the base of our number sense,
Where digits get a neighbour.

Nine are the months of labour,
From conception through to birth.

Eight the planets, like the Earth,
Orbiting the Sun we are.

Seven diff’rent grades of star –
Oh be a fine girl, kiss me !  [/Oh be a fine guy, kiss me !]

Six the kingdoms of life we see –
Do kings play chess on fine green silk ?

Five is the hour we harvest the milk,
Five, five per day to thrive !
Five are my fingers, five are my toes,
Five is the starfish and five is the rose.
A hedgerow rose ?
Well, I suppose.
There’s always five on one of those.
Five are the petals and the leaves she grows,
            Attracting the bees and attracting the nose.

Four are the forces, I propose,
Forces nature shall have it be –
Electromagnetic and gravity,
And the strong and the weak attraction.

Three each science branch or faction –
Bio, chemo and physio learning.
Three the dimensions through which we’re turning,
And three the hands on my watch tell time.

Two is the first and smallest prime,
Two is the first of the even-kind.
Two, oh two, you’re one behind,
            You’re second-best at bestest.

And then came one, and so we rest –
We’ve counted each and ev’ry guest.
For one is one, the last and first,
            The very best, the very worst.
            For one is one, is most perverse –
            The all-enclosing universe.

 

 

This is intended to be a cumulitive carol, like Green Grow The Rushes, Oh or that other one whose name I can’t recall.  It starts from 1 and works its way upto 12, with cut-down verses to speed things along (they’re only sung in full when they’re introduced and on the final time.  Thus the penultimate verse is like this:

 

 

The Romans go from house to house,
Just counting –
But hark, [knock knock]
But hark, [knock knock]
But hark, I hear them knocking…

Eleven players form a team,
Be they ladies, be they gents.

Ten is the base of our number sense,
Where digits get a neighbour.

Nine are the months of labour,
From conception through to birth.

Eight the planets, like the Earth,
Orbiting the Sun we are.

Seven diff’rent grades of star –
Oh be a fine girl, kiss me !  [/Oh be a fine guy, kiss me !]

Six  the kingdoms of life we see –
Do kings play chess on fine green silk ?

Five is the hour we harvest the milk,
Five, five per day to thrive !

Four are the forces, I propose,
            With the strong and the weak attraction.

Three each science branch or faction,
            And three the hands on my watch tell time.

Two is the first and smallest prime,
            Two is the first of the even-kind.

And then came one, and so we rest –
            We’ve counted each and ev’ry guest.

 

 

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