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

The sin of property we do disdain
No man has any right to buy or 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,
a God of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk starve

We work and eat together, we need no swords
We will not bow to masters, nor pay rent to the lords
Still we are free, though we are poor
Ye 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 - only the vision lingers on

Ye poor take courage, ye rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share
All things in common, all people one
They came in peace - the order came to cut them down

Words and music © Leon Rosselson, 1975

The lyrics are derived from a pamphlet attributed to the Digger leader Gerrard Winstanley. Another Web rendition, and a link to a transcript of the pamphlet, can be found here. Rosselson has also set Winstanley's words in another song, "You Noble Diggers All."

 
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