Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Keep it flying
Workers of England, why crouch ye like cravens?
Why clutch an existence of insult and want?
Why stand to be plucked by an army of ravens,
Or hoodwinked for ever by twaddle and cant?
Think on the wrongs ye bear,
Think on the rags ye wear,
Think on the insults endured from your birth;
Toiling in snow and rain,
Rearing up heaps of grain,
All for the tyrants who grind you to earth.
Your brains are as keen as the brains of your masters,
In swiftness and strength ye surpass them by far,
Ye've brave hearts that teach you to laugh at disasters,
Ye vastly outnumber your tyrants in war.
Why then like cowards stand
Using not brain or hand,
Thankful like dogs when they throw you a bone?
What right have they to take
Things that ye toil to make?
Know ye not comrades that all is your own.
Rise in your might, brothers, bear it no longer,
Assemble in masses throughout the whole land:
Show these incapables who are the stronger,
When workers and idlers confronted shall stand.
Through Castle, Court, and Hall,
Over their acres all,
Onward we'll press like the waves of the sea,
Claiming the wealth we've made,
Ending the spoilers' trade:
Labour shall triumph and England be free.
Jim Connell, from Chants of Labour
[songsheet - page 1]
[songsheet - page 2]
I'm taking the funeral of a committed old socialist this week, and thanks to the very helpful people at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, his son-in-law will be reading this out, one of his favourite rebel songs penned by the same man who gave the world The Red Flag (which we shall stand to sing at the crem).
Fascinating debate around the family's kitchen table this afternoon about the viability of the last line of this song in our current political climate; but we agreed that if you've heard the rest you know very well which Labour movement it's celebrating.