Poem for May

The World Turned Upside Down

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 came in peace they said
To dig and sow
We came to work the lands in common
And to make the wasteland 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
Rise up at their command.

They make the laws
To serve them 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 feeds the rich
While poor man starve.

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

From the men of property
The order came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
Only the 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.

By Leon Rosselson

Leon Rosselson (b. 1934), an English songwriter and writer of children’s books. He came to prominence during the folk revival of the 1960s. This song has been covered by many people (Dick Gaughan, Billy Bragg are two worth looking for). I decided to choose this one as it came into my head when it was St George’s Day recently. It seems to me that it still has relevance today. May our common treasury’s remain and grow and the profit fuelled dragon be vanquished.
All my love, care and hope to you all, Isla Blair.