Author Archives: cow

(1884) The Foresters’ Egg! A Timely Warning!

This song was found in the Bristol Radical History pamphlet (#6) ‘The Life and Times of Warren James’ about the Forest of Dean enclosures:

Arouse ye, free miners, who delve in old Dean,
and all ye freeholders with rights o’er its green,
‘Tis time to be stirring for danger is nigh;
and if ye bestir not, you’ll find by and by,
that truth, and truth only, is this now I tell,
They’ll suck out the egg if they once prick the shell!

Say will you surrender, or barter away,
your Father’s old charter – twelve months and a day,
while yours, the bad bargain, to take what they please,
in rents and in taxes, in fines, and in fees.
Remember, free miners, yea, ponder it well,
They’ll suck out the egg if they once prick the shell!

Anon., The Foresters’ Egg! A Timely Warning!
Dean Forest Mercury, 23 may 1884

You can read more about this here – and buy their excellent pamplets here –

Scotland’s post war ‘Tinker Experiment’

Here is a 30 min BBC radio documentary about the British state ‘helping’ Scottish gypsy travellers to ‘settle’. Nothing problematic here at all folks… move along, get along. Go, move, shift…

“The idea that the UK Government, working in partnership with Scottish local authorities and church groups, could take children from their families and put them into residential homes to ‘knock the Tinker out of the child’ is now considered to be cultural genocide.”

Charlie McCarthy, Bylines Scotland

BBC radio show –

And here are some articles about it –

Good article on Scottish land reform progress

Just two communities bid for right to buy neglected land in five years

Jamie Mann from The Ferret in fine form:

Just two communities have applied to take neglected land into public ownership since the Scottish Government launched the initiative more than five years ago, The Ferret has found.

Since 2018, communities have been able to bid for the compulsory purchase of land that is abandoned, neglected or detrimental to the local environment or area, meaning that ministers can force owners to sell, even if they have no plans to do so.

Local communities can apply for the right to buy neglected land and property including greenspaces, woodlands, retail and industrial units, churches, halls, lochs, bridges, canals and foreshores.

However, just two groups have attempted to do so, and neither were successful, according to official data. Community ownership campaigners said the initiative set “too high a bar” for applicants to get past. An overhaul is needed to make it work for communities, they argued.

Read the rest on their website here –

Fordham Farm – Arthur and May Hollins

Arthur and May Hollins began producing yoghourt at Fordhall Farm in 1957, ahead of the multinationals that now control the current dairy market.

Arthur Hollins took over the tenancy at Fordhall in 1929 at the tender age of 13, after his father passed away. Following the intensive food production of the war effort, the land left to Arthur amounted to no more than a fallow malnourished soil, but the new farmer was soon struck by the big difference in the rich growth in the untouched woodlands.

Shortly after the Second World War he vowed never to put chemical fertilisers on the land at Fordhall again, relying solely on natural animal muck as fertiliser. He let the grassland fields return to nature, and built up a herd of dairy cows and a pioneering yoghurt enterprise managed with his first wife May. Being among the first in the country to commercially make and sell live yoghurt they were soon supplying many famous London and Edinburgh stores and markets.

After his death the farm was taken over by the teenaged children of his second marriage, Charlotte and Ben who raised money to run the farm by selling shares. Mary Keith’s community choir sang the songs to the play ‘Arthur’s Plough’ which was performed at the farm.

The Dragon of Wantley

This tale about a knight killing a dragon in a suit of Sheffield steel is a thinly veiled attack on the Earl of Shrewsbury (soon to be the Duke of Norfolk), the areas largest landowner and eventually the most senior peer in the realm.

In 1573 a lawsuit was taken against the Lord of the Manor of Sheffield, George Talbot, the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury. The lord was accused of appropriating the proceeds of Sheffield ‘waste’ land, which hitherto had paid for civic works, church upkeep, and helping the poor. The crusading lawyer who took the case on behalf of the people of Sheffield was named George More who lived by Wharncliffe Crags.

South Derbyshire (Melbourne) protest

compiled by Barry Thomas of the Melbourne Footpaths Group

Thomas Dugmore (1739 – 1820)
Dugmore kept the Bull’s Head public house on Potter Street and attacked the enclosure of Melbourne parish with its effects on public roads and paths in an amazing pamphlet written in 1800. He took Lord Melbourne to court when he closed a local footpath and won.

Melbourne Luddites 1812/13
The town was a centre for framework knitting and was visited by the Luddites on at least two occasions in 1812 and 1813 when frames were smashed.

In 1816 a third of the town’s population was destitute and a letter was written to Lord Sidmouth, Home Secretary by the Overseer of the Poor asking for help.

Sir Francis Burdett (1770-1844)
Up until recently Melbourne had a pub named after Burdett whose family owned Foremark Hall nearby. He was a popular local figure and was a Member of Parliament who gained notoriety as a proponent of universal male suffrage, equal electoral districts, vote by ballot, and annual parliaments. He financed Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor to run a farm in Ireland.

Pentrich Rebellion 1817
Pentrich village was the source of the last armed rebellion in England in June 1817. Protestors were betrayed by government spies (including Oliver who was active at Peterloo). Eighty-five of the rebels were arrested and twenty-three put on trial. Three men were executed in Derby and 14 men were transported to Australia for varying terms. Pentrich village lies 17 miles north of Melbourne.

Derby Reform Bill Riots 1831
Mass riots raged through the town for several days in October 1831 after the Reform Bill was rejected. Prisoners were released from the Derby jails by a crowd of 1,500 protestors.

Derby Silk Mill strike 1833-34
The Silk Mill was one of the first factories in this country and was the site of one of the first major lockouts in this country (1833-1834). Contemporary with the Tolpuddle Martyrs, hundreds of Derby mill workers were forced out of work for joining a radical new union.

Derby Chartism 1839-48
Derby was an important centre for Chartism in the East Midlands (1839-1848) along with Nottingham and Leicester. Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor was a Nottingham MP and Derby had a prominent Chartist candidate in the 1848 election (who wasn’t, unsurprisingly elected).

(2015) The Ballad of Hawkwood by Robin Grey

There is a fine gent christened Ru Litherland
Mulch, sow and then reap
There is a fine gent christened Ru Litherland
And he has green fingers on both of his hands
C Em7 C F C G C
I’ll be good to the land and the land will be good to me

With a coop of comrades he dreamed a bold dream
To grow food for his kinsfolk as nature decreed.

By the edge the forest they spied a fine patch
And to grow fruit and veg there a plan they did hatch.

But the men of the hour dreamed of buildings not plants
A development would far more there profits enhance.

Our ancestors fought for this fair forest land
So now against the law was the businessman’s plan.

After twelve months had past did the council relent
Now we’ll work the earth as our ancestors meant.

Now if you pass by here you might hear a tune:
Mulch, sow and then reap
Now if you pass by here you might hear a tune,
The melody is old and the words will be soon.
I’ll be good to the land and the land will be good to me

(1866) Ballad of Berkhamsted Common

In 1866, Lord Brownlow of Ashridge House tried to enclose a third of Berkhamsted Common by putting in iron fences “without any openings and entirely regardless of public rights of way”.

But the Commons Preservation Society got together a bunch of workmen and labourers to come up on a special midnight train from London and pulled all the fences out.

This is a delightful ballad which tells the story:

(1630) A Lanthorne for Landlords

A Lanthorne for Landlords was published as a broadsheet ballad to the tune of The Duke of Norfolk, and was clearly directed towards a popular audience in the countryside. Its narrative develops themes apparent in some of the earlier works in this section: most notably Robert Crowley’s poem, which ends with the voice of God promising retribution against an exploitative landlord.

In this ballad, the landlord’s crimes and punishments are described at greater length, in a mode of popular melodrama. Indeed the attention lavished on the downfall of his family assumes among the readership a reservoir of barely suppressed resentment directed against landowners. The narrative of divine retribution is designed to appeal to all readers who have felt aggrieved by the actions of those in positions of economic power.

Recommended edition – The Pepys Ballads, ed. W. G. Day, 5 vols (Cambridge, 1987).

With sobbing grief my heart will break asunder in my breast,
Before this story of great woe, I truly have expressed:
Therefore let all kind-hearted men and those that tender be,
Come bear a part of this my grief and jointly say with me,

Woe worth the man, etc.

Not long ago in Lincoln dwelt, As I did understand,
A labouring man from thence set forth to serve in Ireland:
And there in prince’s wars was slain, as doth that country know,
But left his widow great with child as ever she could go.

This woman having gone her time, her husband being dead,
Of two fine pretty boys at once was sweetly brought to bed:
Whereat her wicked landlord straight, did ponder in his mind,
How that their wants he should relieve, and succour for them find.

For being born upon his ground, this was his vile conceit,
That he the mother should maintain and give the other meat:
Which to prevent he hied fast, unto this widow poor,
And on the day she went to church, he turned her out of door.

Her household goods he strained upon, to satisfy the rent,
And left her scarce a rag to wear, so wilful was he bent.
Her pretty babes that sweetly slept upon her tender breast,
Were forced by the miser’s rage, by nights in streets to rest.

Quoth she, ‘my husband in your cause, in wars did lose his life,
And will you use thus cruelly his harmless wedded wife?
O God revenge a widow’s wrong, that all the world may know,
How you have forced a soldier’s wife a-begging for to go.’

From Lincoln thus this widow went, but left her curse behind,
And begged all the land about, her maintenance to find.
At many places where she came she knew the whipping post,
Constrained still as beggars be, to taste on such like roast.

[The woman’s twins, at the age of two, get lost and die in a field of barley,
where later the woman discovers their corpses in the course of the harvest.
The woman determines to return to Lincoln ‘To prosecute the law against /
The causer of this deed’.]

But see the judgement of the Lord, how he in fury great,
Did bring this miser to distress, though wealthy was his seat.
For when to Lincoln she was brought, the caitiff he was gone.
Of all his cursed family, remaining was but one.

For first the house wherein she dwelt, did prove unfortunate,
Which made the landlord and his friends, to marvel much thereat.
For tenants four there dwelt therein, A twelve month and a day,
Yet none of them could thrive at all, but beggars went away.

Whereat this miserable wretch did turn it to a barn,
And filled it full in harvest time with good red wheat and corn:
To keep it safely from the poor, until there came a year,
That famine might oppress them all and make all victuals dear.

But God forgetting not the wrongs, he did this widow poor,
Sent down a fire from heaven, which soon consumed all his store:
By which this wicked miser man, was brought to beggary,
And likewise laid a grievous scourge upon his family.

His wife she proved a cursed witch, and burned for the same,
His daughter now a strumpet is at London in defame.
At Leicester at the ‘sizes last was hanged his eldest son,
For there consenting wickedly unto a murder done.

His second son was fled away unto the enemy,
And proved disloyal to his prince, and to his own country.
His youngest son had like mishap, or worser in my mind,
For he consented to a bitch, contrary unto kind:

For which, the Lord without delay, rained vengeance on his head,
Who like a sinful sodomite defiled Nature’s bed.
For there were two great mastiff dogs that met him in a wood,
And tore his limbs in pieces small, devouring up his blood:

Whereof when as his father heard, most like a desperate man,
Within a channel drowned himself, that down the street it ran,
Whereas water could scarce suffice, to drown a silly mouse.
And thus the ruin you have heard of him and all his house.

The widow she was soon possessed of all the goods he left,
In recompence of those sweet babes mischance from her bereft.
Wherefore let all hard-hearted men, by this example take,
That God is just, and will be true, for woeful widows’ sake.

(1607) The Poor Mans Joye & the Gentlemen’s Plague

A very old ballad borrowed from the private library of some aristocrat by a friend of Roy Palmer’s, who spent years trying to obtain a copy. Probably connected to the Midland Revolt.

You gentlemen that rack your rentes, and throwe downe Land for corne
The tyme will com that som will sigh, that ever they were borne.

Small care you have for to maintayne trueth or godlines.
Yee seek your gayne and still the poore oppresse.

Yee throw downe townes and houses to, and seek for honors more.
When we your tenantes arre constraynde to beg from doore to doore.

Redres we will have, or we will knowe whye no.
We will adventure lief & goods and so the matter shall goe.

The king commaundes and wisheth all thinges well
he askes if all be don nothing but lies you tell.

Therfoer we have agreed even for the comons sake
a blooddye entreprise to take.

Yet meanyng no harme to our gracious King Quene Prince or any of those
But to pull downe those hawghty myndes which against his commandmentes themselves oppose.

For usurping Jupiter we will throwe downe
and restore dispossessed Saturne to his princely Crowne.

Then will not Ambicious Phaeton seeke Phebus chariot to guide.
nor hunger sterved Midas covet gold or worldly pride.

It is that which our Tyrantes have, and we do lack
for they cary whole townes upon their back.

They are as Cruell as Titius which never did good
nay, worse than Meda for seeking after blood.

They lyve secure and think to mak a golden voiage
But what was Scipio Africanus either, when he had won great Carthage

Here they lyve in pompe & glory and may not be Controulde
they think scorn of there faultes for to be told.

Lyving the poore doth wante, and lyving they shall have
and the prowdest of all at our handes mercie shall crave

Their peacock plumes and golden coates, shall them nought avayll
When soden death shall sodenly them call.

Do not Looke to Dye in bed, as others have don before
But let som think to hand upon the dore.

This taske shall well be performed eare Martilmas be one fortenight gone.
and of your goodly howses we will not leave one stone upon a stone

we will be merry and take our full of ioye (joy)
as Priamus had to trayle Hectors body about the walles of Troye

Yee arre lyke to Esops curre in greediness
which snatched at the shadow and so lost the flesh

Your Dealinges arre so bad, the peoples harts they break
in tyranny you excell Gelon which not let his subiectes speak

what was his end, histories do shew
as yyt was with him, so shall yt be with you

you feare naught, but we will make you all to quake
with canon shot, we will your greedy myndes oure shak

when we com out, you tyrants to ynvade
we neede not feare for helpe, thowsandes have sworn to Ayde

Then let som feare when the night ye hear the Drum or goon to enquire in the woodde
that shalbe the true foreteller of his blood.

Yet that tyme you must Leave your whores & dainty dames
whose lascyvious apparell & dainty chere, the poore man still maintaynes

therfore take order som, which be very good
orelles as we have saied, yt shall cost the price of blood

but we care not, whether you order or noe
forwardes the enterprise is lyke to go

yet Pelham & Hatton take courage still
to you & Shefford we owe all good will

the howse of the Henneage let us call to mynde
men good to the poore & to the commons Kynde

And so all otheres that arre Knighte or stand in Justice stedde
Aganst them our sword the cause shall pleade

Oh yt shall do us good to see, these tyrantes wallowed in their Blood

God bless our King Quene and prince all waies
God send them happy lief & old Nestors dayes.

Right to Roam saves Epping Forest in 1870s

Epping Forest (just outside London) was in the process of being Enclosed and made private in the 19th century, but a campaign of mass trespass forced the government to place it in common hands. The first image here (from September 1871) was made just months after a demonstration there.

Around the mid-19th century, over half of Epping Forest had been enclosed and the rights commoners had for firewood, grazing or even just a walk in the woods, were (as with most of the English countryside) being stolen away and cut down.

The public weren’t happy. On 11th Nov, they took part in an annual ceremony defending their rights of pollarding in the forest (lopping higher branches for firewood while encouraging new growth). The event was celebrated on Staples Hill with bonfires, beer and joy.

Despite condemnation by the British press, the campaign continued unabated with huge public support. By 1871, a mass demonstration was called for 8th July to ‘Save the Forest’.

Attended by thousands of mainly working class people, the rally saw fences torn down. Storming the event, and making an arrest the police were then allowed to enjoy the forest for themselves and not told off for trespassing!

But eventually the campaigners won. Their “crime” of trespass became a right. Within a month, parliament began to protect the forest and by 1878 passed an act to make it public. An opening by Queen Victoria (see 7th image) was attended by 500,000. She stated: “It gives me the greatest satisfaction to dedicate this beautiful Forest to the use and enjoyment of my people for all time”.

While the green swathe on the 8th image might look like the Amazon, this is London’s Epping Forest today! It now covers some 6000 acres and over a million trees.

From Lordenshaw to Worth Forest, Right to Roam are continuing the mass trespass tradition to protect and open up the countryside for all.

Credit to Ellie Wilson, The Gentle Author and Russell Tranter for info and images.

(1381) John Ball’s Speech before the Peasant’s Revolt by Michael Rosen

Our very own Rachel Rose Reid has written and performs a fantastic translation of this sppech which we hope to get recorded sometime soon. In the meantime Michael also does a good job, although I fine many words too detached from modernity to land with the casual listener:

Whitewashed Hope – Indigenous World Views

Open source post which we found useful and important – – see also Braiding Sweetgrass

A message from 10+ Indigenous leaders and organizations
Regenerative Agriculture & Permaculture offer narrow solutions to the climate crisis


Regenerative agriculture and permaculture claim to be the solutions to our ecological crises. While they both borrow practices from Indigenous cultures, critically, they leave out our worldviews and continue the pattern of erasing our history and contributions to the modern world.

While the practices ‘sustainable farming’ promote are important, they do not encompass the deep cultural and relational changes needed to realize our collective healing.

Where is ‘Nature’?

Regen Ag & Permaculture often talk about what’s happening ‘in nature’: “In nature, soil is always covered.” “In nature, there are no monocultures.” Nature is viewed as separate, outside, ideal, perfect. Human beings must practice “biomimicry” (the mimicking of life) because we exist outside of the life of Nature.

Indigenous peoples speak of our role AS Nature. (Actually, Indigenous languages often don’t have a word for Nature, only a name for Earth and our Universe.) As cells and organs of Earth, we strive to fulfill our roles as her caregivers and caretakers. We often describe ourselves as “weavers”, strengthening the bonds between all beings.

Death Doesn’t Mean Dead

Regen Ag & Permaculture often maintain the “dead” worldview of Western culture and science: Rocks, mountains, soil, water, wind, and light all start as “dead”. (E.g., “Let’s bring life back to the soil!” — implying soil, without microbes, is dead.) This worldview believes that life only happens when these elements are brought together in some specific and special way.

Indigenous cultures view the Earth as a communion of beings and not objects: All matter and energy is alive and conscious. Mountains, stones, water, and air are relatives and ancestors. Earth is a living being whose body we are all a part of. Life does not only occur when these elements are brought together; Life always is. No “thing” is ever dead; Life forms and transforms.

From Judgemental to Relational

Regen Ag & Permaculture maintain overly simplistic binaries through subscribing to good and bad. Tilling is bad; not tilling is good. Mulch is good; not mulching is bad. We must do only the ‘good’ things to reach the idealized, 99.9% biomimicked farm/garden, though we will never be as pure or good “as Nature”, because we are separate from her.

Indigenous cultures often share the view that there is no good, bad, or ideal—it is not our role to judge. Our role is to tend, care, and weave to maintain relationships of balance. We give ourselves to the land: Our breath and hands uplift her gardens, binding our life force together. No one is tainted by our touch, and we have the ability to heal as much as any other lifeform.

Our Words Shape Us

Regen Ag & Permaculture use English as their preferred language no matter the geography or culture: You must first learn English to learn from the godFATHERS of this movement. The English language judges and objectifies, including words most Indigenous languages do not: ‘natural, criminal, waste, dead, wild, pure…’ English also utilizes language like “things” and “its” when referring to “non-living, subhuman entities”.

Among Indigenous cultures, every language emerges from and is therefore intricately tied to place. Inuit people have dozens of words for snow and her movement; Polynesian languages have dozens of words for water’s ripples. To know a place, you must speak her language. There is no one-size-fits-all, and no words for non-living or sub-human beings, because all life has equal value.

People are land. Holistic includes History.

Regen Ag and Permaculture claim to be holistic in approach. When regenerating a landscape, ‘everything’ is considered: soil health, water cycles, local ‘wildlife’, income & profit. ‘Everything’, however, tends to EXCLUDE history: Why were Indigenous homelands steal-able and why were our peoples & lands rape-able? Why were our cultures erased? Why does our knowledge need to be validated by ‘Science’? Why are we still excluded from your ‘healing’ of our land? 

Among Indigenous cultures, people belong to land rather than land belonging to people. Healing of land MUST include healing of people and vice versa. Recognizing and processing the emotional traumas held in our bodies as descendants of assaulted, enslaved, and displaced peoples is necessary to the healing of land. Returning our rights to care for, harvest from, and relate to the land that birthed us is part of this recognition.


Regen Ag & Permaculture often share the environmentalist message that the world is dying and we must “save” it. Humans are toxic, but if we try, we can create a “new Nature” of harmony, though one that is not as harmonious as the “old Nature” that existed before humanity. Towards this mission, we must put Nature first and sacrifice ourselves for “the cause”.

Indigenous cultures often see Earth as going through cycles of continuous transition. We currently find ourselves in a cycle of great decomposition. Like in any process of composting there is discomfort and a knowing that death always brings us into rebirth. Within this great cycle, we all have a role to play. Recognizing and healing all of our own traumas IS healing Earth’s traumas, because we are ONE.

Where to go from here?

Making up only 6.2% of our global population, Indigenous peoples steward 80% of Earth’s biodiversity while managing over 25% of her land. Indigenous worldviews are the bedrocks that our agricultural practices & lifeways arise from. We invite you to ground your daily practices in these ancestral ways, as we jointly work towards collective healing.

  • Learn whose lands you live on (, their history, and how you can support their causes and cultural revitalization.
  • Watch @gatherfilm and Aluna documentary.
  • Amplify the voices and stories of Indigenous peoples and organizations.
  • Follow, support, donate to, and learn from the contributors to this post.
  • Help republish this open-source post:


(1707*) Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation by Robert Burns

I’ve recently been learning about the failed attempts by the Scottish ruling class to start a new colony in the last 1600s and how this bankrupted them. It was financial ruin caused by this that led to their agreeing (being bribed?) to the formal union of Scotland with England and Wales in 1707 in exchange for lots of cash. This poem written in 1791 by Robbie Burns spells out his disdain for those people who sold out Scotland for money after years of Scottish blood being spilt to defend its freedom.

There are two versions below with quite different interpretations.

Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory;
Fareweel ev'n to the Scottish name,
Sae fam'd in martial story.
Now Sark rins over Solway sands,
An' Tweed rins to the ocean,
To mark where England's province stands-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

What force or guile could not subdue,
Thro' many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few,
For hireling traitor's wages.
The English steel we could disdain,
Secure in valour's station;
But English gold has been our bane -
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

O would, ere I had seen the day
That Treason thus could sell us,
My auld grey head had lien in clay,
Wi' Bruce and loyal Wallace!
But pith and power, till my last hour,
I'll mak this declaration;
We're bought and sold for English gold-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

Jack Hargreaves on deserted villages and the enclosures (25 mins)

Jack Hargreaves had a beautful way of talking about the world around him at a time when the urban and rural were becoming more and more divided. Many episodes of his ‘Old Country’ series can be found on Youtube and are well worth a look. This one on deserted villages, the black death and enclosures is as good a place to start as any.

(1851*) The Ballad Of Crowfoot by Willie Dunn

Released in 1968 and often referred to as Canada’s first music video, The Ballad of Crowfoot was directed by Willie Dunn, a Mi’kmaq/Scottish folk singer and activist who was part of the historic Indian Film Crew, the first all-Indigenous production unit at the NFB. The film is a powerful look at colonial betrayals, told through a striking montage of archival images and a ballad composed by Dunn himself about the legendary 19th-century Siksika (Blackfoot) chief who negotiated Treaty 7 on behalf of the Blackfoot Confederacy. The IFC’s inaugural release, Crowfoot was the first Indigenous-directed film to be made at the NFB.


Comes the spring and its warm thaw
Around your neck, the eagle claw
Upon your head, the buffalo horn
Today a great new chief is born
So raise him fast towards the sun
A heart now beats, a life’s begun
It’s eighteen hundred twenty-one
Today a Blackfoot soul is, is born

Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

Your years have gone, the years have past
Your heart is set, your soul is cast
You stand before the Council Fire
You have the mind and the desire
Of notions wise you speak so well
And in brave deeds you do excel
And it’s eighteen hundred fifty-three
And you stand the chief of Confederacy
You are the leader, you are the chief
You stand against both liar and thief
They trade braves whiskey and steal your land
And they’re coming in swift like the wind-blown sand
They shoot the buffalo and kill the game
And send their preachers in to shame
And it’s eighteen hundred sixty-four
And you think of peace and you think of war

Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

See the settlers in more numbers
He takes whatever he encounters
You’ve seen the Sioux all battered, beaten
They’re all in rags, they haven’t eaten
The Nez Perce’ were much the same
It seems like such a heartless game
And it’s eighteen hundred seventy-six
And the enemy’s full of those death-dealing tricks
Today the treaty stands on the table
Will you sign it? Are you able?
It offers food and protection too
Do you really think they’ll hold it true?
It offers a reserve, now isn’t that grand?
And in return you cede all of your land
And it’s eighteen hundred seventy-seven
And you know the scales are so uneven

Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

Well, the buffalo are slaughtered, there is nothing to eat
The government’s late again with the meat
And your people are riddled with the white man’s disease
And in the summer they’re sick and in the winter they freeze and
Sometimes you wonder why you signed that day
But they broke the treaties themselves anyway
And it’s eighteen hundred eighty-nine
And your death star explodes and then it falls

Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

The years have gone, the years have flown
A nation since has swiftly grown but
Yet for the Indian, it’s all the same
There’s still the hardship, there’s still the pain
There’s still the hardship, there’s still the strife
It’s bitterness shines like a whetted knife
There’s still the hypocrisy, and the hate
Was that in the treaties? Was that the fate?
We’re all unhappy pawns in the government’s game
And it’s always the Indian who gets the blame
It’s a problem which money can never lessen
And it’s nineteen hundred sixty-seven

Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

Maybe one day you’ll find honesty
Instead of the usual treachery
Perhaps one day the truth shall prevail
And the warmth of love which it does entail
Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

(1987) Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil

An Aboriginal land rights song written by Australia rock band in the 80’s, not my cup of tea to be honest but documented here for completeness sake!

Out where the river broke
The blood-wood and the desert oak
Holden wrecks and boiling diesels
Steam in forty-five degrees

The time has come
To say fair’s fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share

The time has come
A fact’s a fact
It belongs to them
Let’s give it back

How can we dance
When our earth is turning
How do we sleep
While our beds are burning

How can we dance
When our earth is turning
How do we sleep
While our beds are burning

The time has come
To say fair’s fair
To pay the rent
Now to pay our share

Four wheels scare the cockatoos
From Kintore East to Yuendemu
The western desert lives and breathes
In forty-five degrees

The time has come
To say fair’s fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share

The time has come
A fact’s a fact
It belongs to them
Let’s give it back

How can we dance
When our earth is turning
How do we sleep
While our beds are burning
How can we dance
When our earth is turning

How do we sleep
While our beds are burning
The time has come
To say fair’s fair
To pay the rent now
To pay our share

The time has come
A fact’s a fact
It belongs to them
We’re gonna give it back

How can we dance
When our earth is turning
How do we sleep
While our beds are burning

Spiorad a’ Charthannais (The Spirit of Kindliness), by the Lewis poet Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn (John Smith)

Just book marking this all here for future reference



And in his great poem Spiorad a’ Charthannais (The Spirit of Kindliness), the Lewis poet Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn (John Smith) wrote about island soldiers coming back from the Napoleonic wars, only to find their homes burned to the ground in similar Highland Clearances. Their persecutors, not Napoleon, but domestic oppressors, who:

…reckoned as but brittle threads
the tight and loving cords
that bound these freemen’s noble hearts
to the high land of the hills.

The grief they suffered brought them death
although they suffered long,
tormented by the cold world
which had no warmth for them.

From Gaelic poetry and the British military, 1756-1945 by Wilson McLeod

An atypically incisive example of such rhetoric can be found in the Lewis poet Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn’s (John Smith) (1848-81) powerful ‘Spiorad a’ Charthannais’ (‘The Spirit of Kindliness’), composed in 1874, at the beginning of the Land Agitation:

A bheil neach beò san linn seo
leis an cuimhn’ an latha garbh
’s na chuireadh an cath uamhann —
Waterloo nan cluaintean dearg?
Bu tapaidh buaidh nan Gàidheal ann,
nuair dh’èirich iad fo’n airm;
ri aghaidh colg nan treun-fheara
gun ghèill ar nàimhdean garg.

Dè ’n sòlas a fhuair athraichean
nan gaisgeach thug a’ bhuaidh?
Chaidh taighean blàth a’ charthannais
’nam baidealaich mu’n cluais;
bha ’m macaibh anns an àraich
’s iad a’ teàrnadh tìr gun truas;
bu chianail staid am màthraichean,
’s am fàrdaichean ’nan gual. . . .

A Bhreatainn, tha e nàireach dhut,
ma dh’àirmhear ann do sgeul,
Gun bhuin thu cho mì-nàdarrach
ri t’fhìor-shliochd àlainn fhèin;
an tìr bha aig na gaisgich ud
a theasairg thu ’nad fheum,
a thionndadh gu blàr-spòrsa
do na stròdhailich gun bheus.

Is anyone presently alive
who recollects that awful day,
on which was fought the fearful fight —
Waterloo of the bloody plains?
A fine victory was won by Gaels
when they rose in battle-arms;
faced with the blade of bravest men,
our fierce foes yielded fast.

What joy came to the fathers
of those who won the fray?
The warm homes of kindliness
towered round their ears in flames.
Their sons were on the battlefield
to save a heartless land;
their mothers were in the saddest plight,
and their homes reduced to ash. . . .

O Britain, it is a disgrace,
should we recount your tale,
relating how hard you dealt
with your own and truest race.
The land that those heroes had,
who saved you in your straits,
has now become a field of sports
for those wasters without morals.

(Meek 2003: 362-5)

Bàrdachd – Spiorad a’ Charthannais

Tha structar teann agus reusanachadh soilleir san dàn seo. Tha sin, le cainnt gheur agus rannaigheachd shiùbhlach a’ bhàird, a’ fàgail gur e seo ionnsaigh cho làidir is a gheibhear ann am bàrdachd Ghàidhlig air na Fuadaichean.

Sa chiad chòig rannan tha am bàrd a’ beachdachadh air gnè spiorad a’ charthannais agus an diofar a dhèanadh e don t-saoghal nan leanadh daoine an dòigh-beatha seo: airson notaichean air seo cliog air Spiorad.

Anns an ath chòig rannan tha e a’ leudachadh air a’ chron a tha dìth carthannais a’ dèanamh anns an t-saoghal san fharsaingeachd: cliog air Dìth airson seo.

Às dèidh rann far a bheil e a’ cur an cèill amasan an dàin, tha Mac a’ Ghobhainn anns an ath chòig rannan a’ càineadh nan uachdaran agus nam bàillidhean airson a bhith cho cruaidh air an t-sluagh: cliog air Uachdarain airson seo.

Anns na ceithir rannan deireannach, tha e a’ toirt ionnsaigh gu h-àraidh air Dòmhnall Rothach, bàillidh Leòdhais: cliog air Crìoch airson seo.

Lean na comharran airson a’ bhàrdachd a mhìneachadh. Nuair a nì thu sin, theirig air ais agus leugh a’ bhàrdachd air fad a-rithist.

Spiorad a’ Charthannais

O Spioraid shoilleir shàr-mhaisich,
A Spioraid ghràsmhoir chaoin
Tha riaghladh anns an àros sin
Tha uile làn de ghaol,
Nan gabhamaid gu càirdeil riut,
Gad fhàilteachadh gu caomh,
'S e siud a bheireadh àrdachadh
Do nàdar chloinn nan daoin'.

Nam b' eòl dhuinn thu nad mhaisealachd
'S nam b' aithne dhuinn do luach,
'S e siud a bheireadh inntinn dhuinn
Os cionn an t-saoghail thruaigh;
Gur sona iad fhuair eòlas ort,
'S len còmhnaich thu gu buan –
'S ann tromhad tha na sòlasan
Tha 'n Tìr na Glòire shuas.

'S tu phàirticheadh gu h-èifeachdach
Rinn gnè nam flaitheas àrd;
An àite greann na h-eucorach
Bhiodh maise 's sgèimh nan gràs;
'S tu sheargadh gnè na truaillidheachd
'S a nuadhaicheadh ar càil;
'S tu thogadh chum nan nèamhan sinn
Le tarraing threun do ghràidh.

O Spioraid chaoimh nan gràsalachd,
Nam biodh tu tàmh nar còir,
'S tu dh'fhuasgladh oirnn 's a shlànaicheadh
An dream tha cnàmh fo leòn;
'S tu thogadh crìdh' nam bantraichean
Gu seinn le aiteas mòr,
'S nach fàgadh gu neo-choibhneil iad
An gainntir dorch a' bhròin.

'S tu mhùchadh teine 'n nàmhaideis
'S an t-sùil as gràinde colg;
'S tu rèiticheadh 's a chiùinicheadh
A' mhala bhrùideil dhorch;
'S tu thogadh neul na h-aingidheachd
Bharr gnùis nan aintighearn' borb
'S a bheireadh gionach saidhbhreis uap'
'S gach aimhleas tha nan lorg.

Ach 's eagal leam gun d' thrèig thu sinn
'S do nèamh gun d' theich thu suas –
Tha daoin' air fàs cho eucorach
'S do ghnè-sa fada uap';
Tha seiche ghreannach fèinealachd
Gan eudachadh mun cuairt –
Chan eòl dhomh aon nì reubas e
Ach saighead Dhè nan sluagh.

A shaoghail, 's fada tuathal thu
On uair sin anns na thrèig
Do charthannas is d' uaisleachd thu,
'S a ghabh thu Fuath is Breug;
Mar inneal-ciùil neo-cheòlmhor dhut,
Gun teud an òrdugh rèidh,
Cha seinn thu pong le òrdalachd
'S cha deòin leat dol air ghleus.

Gur leatsa neart nan aintighearnan
Is gèimhlichean nan tràill;
Gur leat guth treun nan ainneartach
'S guth fann an fhir tha 'n sàs;
Gur leatsa spìd is uabharrachd
An t-sluaigh tha 'n ionad àrd,
'S a mheasas cho mì-fhiùghail sinn
Ri sgùileach air an tràigh.

Gur leat an creideamh buaireasach
A dhùisgeas gruaim is greann,
An creideamh nach dèan suairce sinn
'S nach dèan ar n-uabhar fann;
An creideamh th' aig na diadhairean
Lem miann a' chòmhstri theann –
Nan làimh-san dh'fhàs a' Chrìosdalachd
Mar bhiast nan iomadh ceann.

An searmonaiche prèisgeil ud,
'S ann dh'èigheas e le sgairt
Gur mallaicht' sinn mur èisdear leinn
Ra chreud-san - an tè cheart;
An àite bhith sìor èigheach rinn
Mur dleasdanas 's gach beart,
A dhèanamh daoine cèillidh dhinn
An làthair Dhè nam feart.

O Charthannais, gur h-àlainn thu,
A ghràis as àirde luach!
Ach 's lìonmhor nach toir àite dhut
Gu bràth nan cridhe cruaidh.
Nan deònaicheadh a' cheòlraidh dhomh
Mo chomas beòil car uair,
Gun innsinn pàirt de ghnìomharan
Nam biast thug dhutsa fuath.

Cha robh do ghnè-s' an Dòmhnall bochd,
Am fear bu rògaich goill,
Bha 'n dùil gum biodh gach Leòdhasach
Air fhògaradh don choill;
Ach phàigh e pàirt de dhò-bheartan
Is gheibh e 'n còrr a thoill –
Gun aithnich e gu dòrainneach
Gur feàrr a' chòir na 'n fhoill.

Cha robh do ghnè-s' a' riaghladh
Ann am broilleach iarainn cruaidh
Nam bàillidhean 's nan tighearnan
Chuir sìos an tìr mu thuath;
Bu charthannach na fàrdaichean
Bha seasgair, blàth innt' uair,
'S tha tìr nan daoine còire 'n-diugh
Na fàsach dòbhaidh truagh.

Gun chuir iad fo na naosgaichean
An tìr a b' aoigheil sluagh;
Gun bhuin iad cho neo-dhaonndachail
Ri daoine bha cho suairc';
A chionn nach faodte 'm bàthadh,
Chaidh an sgànradh thar a' chuain –
Bu mhiosa na bruid Bhàbiloin
An càradh sin a fhuair.

A Bhreatainn, tha e nàrach dhut,
Ma dh'àirmhear ann do sgeul
Gun bhuin thu cho mi-nàdarrach
Rid fhìor-shliochd àlainn fhèin –
An tìr bha aig na gaisgich ud
A theasairg thu nad fheum,
A thionndadh ga blàr-spòrsa
Do na stròidhealaich gun bheus.

Nach dìblidh cliù ar mòr-uaislean,
Na fir as neònaich' mèinn –
Carson a tha iad mòr-chùiseach,
'S iad beò air spòrs gun chèill?
Nan còmhdaicheadh na ruadh-chearcan
Lem buachar uachdar slèibh,
'S e siud a b' fheàrr a chòrdadh riu
Na sràidean òir air nèamh.

O, criothnaich measg do shòlasan.
Fhir fhòirneirt làidir chruaidh!
Dè 'm bàs no 'm pian a dhòirtear ort
Airson do leòn air sluagh?
'S e osnaich bhròin nam bantraichean
Tha sèid do shaidhbhries suas;
Gach cupan fìon a dh'òlas tu,
'S e deòir nan ainnis truagh.

Ged thachradh oighreachd mhòr agad
'S ged ghèill na slòigh fod smachd,
Tha 'm bàs is laghan geur aige,
'S gum feum thu gèill da reachd;
Siud uachdaran a dh'òrdaicheas
Co-ionann còir gach neach,
'S mar oighreachd bheir e lèine dhut,
'S dà cheum de thalamh glas.

'S e siud as deireadh suarach dhut,
Thus', fhir an uabhair mhòir,
Led shumanan 's led bhàirlinnean
A' cumail chàich fo bhròn;
Nuair gheibh thu 'n oighreachd shàmhach ud,
Bidh d' àrdan beag gu leòr;
Cha chluinnear trod a' bhàillidh ann
'S cha chuir maor grànd' air ròig.

'N sin molaidh a'chnuimh shnàigeach thu,
Cho tàirceach 'sa bhios d' fheòil,
Nuair gheibh i air do chàradh thu
Gu sàmhach air a bòrd;
Their i, "'S e fear mèath tha 'n seo
Tha math do bhiast nan còs,
On rinn e caol na ceudan
Gus e fhèin a bhiathadh dhòmhs'."