The Ballad of Captain Swing

by Peter Higginbotham

In eighteen hundred and twenty nine
The summer was wet and the sun would not shine,
The terrible harvest was surely a sign -
An omen for Captain Swing.

Oh Captain Swing, he'll come in the night,
To set all your buildings and crops alight,
And smash your machines with all his might,
That dastardly Captain Swing!

The following year was just as bad
No corn to be reaped and no work to be had.
Poor labouring men were driven quite mad
And rallied to Captain Swing.

They cried to the farmers to take heed,
These threshing machines are the last thing we need,
If you must persist in doing this deed.
You'll soon hear from Captain Swing

And all through the heart of this fair land,
The call went abroad for justice to stand.
Men rose up and marched to make their demand
In the name of Captain Swing.

From Norfolk to Berkshire went the cry,
For food in our bellies we'll gladly die.
Machines were smashed up and fires lit the sky,
As promised by Captain Swing.

As poor men assembled and attacked,
The justices read out the Riot Act.
T'was soon clear the odds were heavily stacked
Contrary to Captain Swing.

The leaders were charged and guilty found,
Some were deported and some scaffold bound,
But true working men forever should sound
The praises of Captain Swing.

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