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A Diggers Song

On April Fool’s Day 1649 Gerrard Winstanley and William Everard began to dig to plant turnips, carrots, & peas on George’s Hill, England, a first experiment to common the land, and a precursor of true common wealth.   They became the Diggers until Oliver Cromwell crushed them, just as today April 1, 2015, the constabulary has evicted an eco-village in Runnymede where Magna Carta was sworn 800 years ago in 1215 with its hints of the commons.  This was their song of April 1, 1649. Sing out now!

You noble Diggers all, stand up now, stand up now,

You noble Diggers all, stand up now

The waste land to maintain, seeing Cavaliers by name

Your digging does distain, and persons all defame

Stand up now, stand up now.

 

Your houses they pull down, stand up now, stand up now,

Your houses they pull down, stand up now,

Your houses they pull down to fright poor men in town,

But the gentry must come down, and the poor shall wear the crown.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

 

With spades and hoes and plows, stand up now, stand up now,

With spades and hoes and plows stand up now,

Your freedom to uphold, seeing Cavaliers are bold

To kill you if they could, and rights from you to hold.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

 

Their self-will is their law, stand up now, stand up now,

Their self-will is their law, stand up now

Since tyranny came in they count it now no sin

To make a jail a gin to starve poor men therein.

Stand up now, stand up now.

 

The gentry are all round, stand up now, stand up now,

The gentry are all round, stand up now.

The gentry are all round, on each side they are found,

Their wisdom’s so profound to cheat us of our ground.

Stand up now, stand up now.

 

The lawyers they conjoin, stand up now, stand up now,

The lawyers they conjoin, stand up now,

To arrest you they advise, such fury they devise,

The devil in them lies and hath blinded both their eyes.

Stand up now, stand up now.

 

The clergy they come in, stand up now, stand up now,

The clergy they come in, stand up now.

The clergy they come in, and say it is a sin

That we should now begin our freedom for to win.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

 

The tithe they yet will have, stand up now, stand up now,

The tithes they yet will have, stand up now.

The tithes they yet will have, and lawyers their fees crave,

And this they say is brave, to make the poor their slave.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

 

‘Gainst lawyers and ‘gainst priests, stand up now, stand up now

‘Gainst lawyers and ‘gainst priests, stand up now,

For tyrants they are both even flat against their oath,

To grant us they are loath, free meat, and drink, and cloth

Stand up now, Diggers all.

 

The Cavaliers are foes, stand up now, stand up now,

Cavalier are foes, stand up now.

The Cavaliers are foes, themselves they do disclose

By verses not in prose to please the singing boys,

Stand up now, Diggers all.

 

The club is all their law, stand up now, stand up now,

The club is all their law, stand up now.

The club is all their law to keep men in awe,

But they no vision saw to maintain such a law.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

 

To conquer them by love, come in now, come in now,

To conquer them by love, come in now;

To conquer them by love, as it does you behove,

For hee is King above, noe power is like to love.

Glory here diggers all.

Peter Linebaugh teaches history at the University of Toledo. His books included: The London Hanged,(with Marcus Rediker) The Many-Headed Hydra: the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic and Magna Carta Manifesto. His essay on the history of May Day is included in Serpents in the Garden. His latest book is Stop Thief! The Commons, Enclosures and Resistance.  He can be reached at:plineba@yahoo.com