The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #19019   Message #191817
Posted By: Wolfgang
08-Mar-00 - 09:57 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Song of the Lower Classes
I know this song from the singing of Martin Carthy on 'Out of the Cut'. The version below is very close to his singing and comes from J. McDonnell (Ed.), Songs of Struggle and Protest.


(Ernest Jones; tune: My old friend John)

We plough and sow, we're so very, very low
that we delve in the dirty clay
till we bless the plain with the golden grain
and the vale with the fragrant hay.
Our place we know, we're so very, very low,
'tis down at the landlord's feet.
We're not too low the grain to grow,
but too low the bread to eat.
(repeat twice the last two lines)

Down, down we go, we're so very, very low
to the hell of the deep sunk mines,
but we gather the proudest gems that glow
when the crown of the despot shines.
And when e'er he lacks upon our backs
fresh loads he deigns to lay.
We're far too low to vote the tax,
but not too low to pay.

We're low, we're low, we're very, very low
and yet from our fingers glide
the silken flow and the robes they glow
round the limbs of the sons of pride.
And what we get and what we give
we know and we know our share.
We're not too low the cloth to weave,
but too low the cloth to wear.

We're low, we're low, we're very, very low
and yet when the trumpets ring
the thrust of a poor man's arm will go
through the heart of the proudest king.
We're low, we're low, mere rabble we know,
we're only the rank and file.
We're not too low to kill the foe,
but too low to share the spoil.

The writer, Ernest Jones, stood unsuccessfully as a Chartist MP in 1847, was arrested in 1848 and sentenced to two years of solitary confinement. From 1951 on, he started publishing a weekly magazine, Notes to the People, in which this song was published in March 1852. ^^