Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Diggers

One of my favorite songs (performed by Billy Bragg on video here). In this age of corporate greed and wealth inequality, it was on my mind today.

The World Turned Upside Down
© Leon Rosselson, 1975

In 1649 at 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 land grow.
This earth divided we will make whole
So it will can be a common treasury for all."

"The sin of property we do disdain
No one 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:
Their clergy dazzle us with heaven or they damn us into hell.
We will not worship the god they serve!
The god of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk men 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 their hired men and troopers
to wipe out the Diggers' claim,
Tear down their cottages, destroy their corn.
They were dispersed, but still — their vision lingers on.

"You poor take courage, you rich take care.
The earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share
All things in common, all people one
We come in peace" — the order came to cut them down.
The Diggers were real and the song is accurate on the history of what happened. In getting ready to post this, I realized there's a much older song called "The Diggers' Song." I'll have to look into that.

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