Have you seen Jack-in-the-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.

He sits quietly under every tree
In the folds of his velvet gown.
He drinks from the empty acorn cup.
The dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground -
Signals the snow drops, it's time to grow

It's no fun being Jack-in-the-Green:
No place to dance, no time for song.
He wears the colors of the summer soldier;
And carries the green flag all the winter long.

Jack do you never sleep - does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times, motorways, power lines, keep us apart?
Well, I don't think so.
I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.

The Rowan, the Oak and the Holly tree
Are the charges left for him to groom.

Each blade of grass whispers, "Jack-in-the-Green."
"Oh Jack, please help me through my winter's night."
And "We are the berries on the Holly tree:
Oh, the Mistle Thrush is coming. Jack, put out the light!"

Lyrics submitted by Philadelphia Eagles

Jack in the Green Lyrics as written by Ian Anderson


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Jack-In-The-Green song meanings
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  • +1
    Song MeaningOn "Bursting Out", Anderson says: "Back, you see, in England's green and pleasant woodlands, we have these small elf-like characters, who are charged with the grave responsibility of looking after all things that grow during the dark and cold winter months. Their names are 'jacks-in-the-greens', they are plural, plural!"

    So while the song appears to be addressed to an individual, it's presumably intended to be one particular Jack (perhaps as a representative of the class as a whole), rather than a distinct quasi-historical/mythological figure like St George or the Green Man.

    A 'Jack in the Green' - represented as a leaf-covered giant, rather than one of Anderson's small elves - is a feature in English May Day celebrations. In any case, a Jack may be taken to be a general nature spirit or a fairy. The name is similar to other periphrastic names for fairies such as Robin Goodfellow, Robin i' the Wood, etc. in which a conventional name is used to refer to a magical being to avoid actually naming it and so running the risk of attracting its attention, with possibly dangerous consequences.

    The song describes the appearance and activities of the nature spirit, and touches on the question of whether the spirit - and the natural world it represents - can survive in the modern world, with the "grass growing through the pavement" as a symbol for the quiet endurance of living things in the face of modernity (a theme that Anderson returns to in the song "Heavy Horses").
    slamon December 21, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJack-in-the-Green and Green Man are two common names that Saint George was known by. According to English folklore (and this song), Jack is responsible for returning life to the forrest after the winter. The bridge of the song describes how Jack's quest still goes on, even in these modern days.
    Krendall2006on January 12, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentActually, Krendall, the Green Man is a ancient Celtic (aka pagan) deity. A good god to them.
    After the Christians either killed off or converted the Celts, the Green Man became an alias for Saint George. Christians stole it and called it their own.
    Johnationon August 06, 2008   Link

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