"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Sunday 13 June 2010

The World Turned Upside Down [2]

In 1649
To St. George’s Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor folk starve

We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords
Still we are free
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers’ claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The orders came to cut them down

One of my favourite folk songs, written by Leon Rosselson as sung by Roy Bailey and Billy Bragg. It celebrates the Diggers, 20 poor men who gathered together in April 1649 at St. George's Hill, Surrey to farm the common land. They declared that because the Civil Wars had been held against both the king and landowners land should be given to the poor for their use, as food prices had risen out of all proportion during the 1640s. The Diggers membership increased during 1649 but their presence and beliefs worried both the government and obviously local landowners - who were also claiming common lands. Eventually the Diggers were dispersed by a combination of legal action and violence, and by April 1650 they had been disbanded.
A blurry version sung by Billy Bragg at a Tolpuddle Rally http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LK2ldle1kAk

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