Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Bad Squire

You know, I've had this song on my playlist for a few years now. It's called "The Bad Squire," and it's based on a poem by a clergyman named Charles Kingsley in the 1800s. Chumbawamba - you know, the band that wrote Tubthumping? - did an album called "English Rebel Songs (1381-1984)" where they sing a lot of these old songs with just the acoustic guitar. Anyhow, I actually gave it a deep listen, while I was writing changes to my research manuscript I've been working on for a year now. I knew the song was about how a land owner punished the poor for poaching game, when the the poor were trying to protect their crops so to ward off starvation. But I actually heard some lyrics for the first time, that really brought me to the here and now:
You have sold out the labouring man, Squire
Both body and soul for to shame
To pay for your seat in the House, Squire
And to pay for the feed of your game
You made him a poacher yourself, Squire
When you'd give not the work nor the meat
And your barley-fed hares robbed the garden
At our starving poor little one's feet
(Emphasis my own). That choked me up, when I made the connection between the lyrics with what people still go through today, in the vill. It's no longer a class selling people to wallow in poverty, but urban interests. But is the end result any different?

Here's the song in total:

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