From One to Five

From Tolkien Gateway

From One to Five is a song written by J.R.R. Tolkien, to be sung to the tune of Three Wise Men of Gotham. It is published as the eighth song in Songs for the Philologists in 1936.

The song was revised to omit the direct references to Leeds University, to suit College University, London.[1]

The song

From One to Five

One old man of Durham
Wrote a perished play;
Had he not lost the play, sir,
The royalties would pay, sir! — Poor he!

Three wise men of Yorkshire
Tried to train a boy;
Had the boy been brighter
Their task had been lighter — O yea!

Two poor loons of London
Tried to talk in Norse;
Had their tongues been stronger
Their talk had been longer — Ah me!

Four young nameless noodles
Took the English school-
Nearly failed in winter-
They ploughed 'em in the Inter — Wela wa!

Five fat Middlesex maidens
Tried to print a book;
They used as ink-ball, sir,
The roundest of all, sir! — Hee hee!


  1. Hammond, W. G., Scull, C. [1993] J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography