The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #141748   Message #3263934
Posted By: GUEST,Mike Leigh
26-Nov-11 - 05:13 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Ring the Summer Home (Ewan MacColl)
Subject: Lyr Add: RING THE SUMMER HOME (Ewan MacColl)
I recently acquired Ewan MacColl's album, Antiquities, and was blown away by his song "Ring the Summer Home"-- a telling of the Peasants' Revolt (aka Wat Tyler's Rebellion, or the Great Rising of 1381).

Wanting to understand the history better-- and unable to find the lyrics anywhere-- I transcribed them to the best of my abilities and did a little digging on Wikipedia to clear up some of the names. I hope this will save someone else some time--and encourage someone to correct my errors!


Our king went forth to Normandy
With grace and might and chivalry,
The God for him wrought marvelously,
Wherefore England may call and cry, "Deo Gratias."

The king went forth to Normandy, pride of might and chivalry
Welsh and English lowbowmen, bondmen, serfs were in the band
While at home men and women labored in the fields,
That the masters might enjoy their yield.
Live and die in the eye and bonds of Edward's laws,
Caught up in the toils of Edward's wars.

In the 13th year of the war came the pestilence to our shore.
Sergeant Death stalked through the land,
Murder walked at his right hand.
Kings and their conscript armies play their bloody games
In the fertile fields of Aquitaine.
Children die caught upon the point of hunger's lance,
While their fathers die in the fields of France.

In the 40th year of the war, Richard flogged us with the law
Beat us with a new poll tax
Flayed the skin from off our backs
Our lives are forfeit, caught between the granite millstones
Of the church and state and king's throne
They grind our bodies down, our very souls they plunder,
While our children die of hunger.

The ax was sharp, the stalk was hard,
In the fourteenth year of King Richard
In the blade of the next poll tax,
Honed till sharper than the ax.
The sweating reaper sees the hated tax collector pass,
Time he fits to put the scythe to the grass.
"The time has come to put the wheat away, uproot them all,"
Says the farmer-priest of York, John Ball.

Thirteen hundred eighty-one:
Now the sheep shearing time has come.
With King Richard's third poll tax,
Hear the cry, "Get off our backs!"
Now soon the sheep will shear the wolf,
The lambs will show their teeth.
Soon the wrestlers will be on the heap,
And we will dance the true man's Morris at the Whitson games
To the welcome sound of broken chains

Thirteen hundred eighty-one:
Now the May games have begun
Brentwood, all(?) begin the jig
Dance the poll tax whirligig
The tax collectors they are forced to join the rebel dance
High up in the air they twitch and prance
Across the Thames the army of the Essex bondmen went
Joining forces with the men of Kent

We have brought the harvest home
Yes we have brought the summer home
And we have cut and stacked the corn
Yes we have brought the summer home
And sent the tax collector running
We have brought the summer home
Sent the tax commissioners running
We have brought the summer home
And helped the robber, he is hiding
We have brought the harvest home
And the noble knights are hiding
And the noble squires are hiding
And the noble lords are hiding
And the stiff-necked priors are hiding
And the abbots they are hiding
And the bishops they are hiding
We have brought the summer home
Yes, we have brought the summer home

We have made a good beginning
Since that glorious day in Brentwood
When we chased the tax collectors
And the day we marched to Maidstone
And we brought the summer home
Since we freed John Ball from prison
Since we burned Lancaster's palace
Since we stormed Rochester castle
Took the head off our archbishop
And the head off Robert Hales
And the head off Sir John Fordham
We have brought the summer home
Yes we have brought the summer home

When able ___ went into Dartford
And when on to capture Graveson(?)
And we brought the summer home
And we sacked the marshall sea(?)
Yes as we brought the summer home
Yes we brought the summer home

How we reveled in the May Day
With the chasing of the landlords
And we celebrated Pentecost
With John Ball and Wat Tyler
And the feast of the sheep shearing
With Jack Straw and William Briancaw(?)
And the feast of the feast of corpus cristi
With the bleeding of the glutton
And the vigil of St. John the Baptist brought the summer home

All the south has caught on fire
Norfolk, Hampshire, Hartfordshire
Johann(?) Nameless, Thomas Stott(?)
Here's the plowman home and Wat
To Canterbury 50,000 men of Kent are sped
England's chancellor will lose his head
And then Wat Tyler and his men are London bound
Pull the nobles and their prelates down

All the taxers got the priests
"Ring the necks of noble geese!"
Loose all prisoners, set them free
From Newgate and the Marshall sea(?)
Burn down the palace of the Duke of Lancaster
Who's the servant now, sir, who's the master?
Tear the tyrant Treasurer of England from his bed
See how he can fare without his head!

Adam Atwell -- and John Bowlin
Nicholas Boatland – Simon Burley
And Jack Cave – master baker
And John Kent – a shoe maker
And George Donesby – of Lincoln
William Gricall – of St. Albans
Thomas Harding – __stone mason
Also Hugh Harvey – of Chester
And there's able ___ – of Brentwood
And Richard Kendall – and John Kirby
Geoffrey Litster – dyer of Stafford
And Jack Millner – John de M___
There's John Potter – master fuller
And Ray Fr___ – and Walter Civil
Thomas Simpson – basketmaker
And Jack Straw – and Alan Gretter
There's Will Tonge – and Warwick Westbroom(?)
John de W____
And there's Wat Tyler …

July, thirteen eighty-one:
Brave Wat Tyler's come and gone
Killed by creatures of the court
Killing bondmen his royal sport
John Ball was stretched upon the rack, then disemboweled and hung
His broken body on a dunghill flung
He said that when the great ones had been rooted up and cast away
Only then will we learn to be free

Nineteen hundred eighty-nine
Against the new poll tax combine
Join the men of eighty-one
Finish what John Ball began
Now we can stretch our hands across time's ocean wide
Marching on at Wat Tyler's side
All honor to the ragged bands who at Smithfield lay
Those who braved the ax and led the way.