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from this ground

By Michael Luntley, Sep 23 2019 11:35AM

Full text of from this ground concert...




from this ground

Michael Luntley

approx 45 mins set

ensemble: male vocal 1 with guitar/banjo/mandola, female vocal, violin; poet


narration: the sense of place, the idea of knowing your place (not as

position in the social order, but knowing the place that gives root,

shape and purpose) this sense of place has long been both

powerful and awkward


1 song: ‘from this ground’ – ensemble

from this ground I have come

it’s where I’ll return

when time is no longer my friend

and all things come back, their beginnings, their ends

to take rest and peace from this ground


from this ground some are broke

cut loose with no hope

for two shilling more they gather the county all round

as the union gives shout, the owners lock out

the hungry and wretched who come from this ground


from this ground some have left

precariously adrift

across the sea and the deep ocean’s sound

to sweat and to toil on other folks’ soil

to raise coffee and beef from this ground


from this ground we’ll not be barred

by hedge or force hard

it is ours to nurture and ours to mend

for the pain and the spillage, the gouging and tillage

the scars we’ll erase from this ground


from this ground we strike out

with a march and a shout

the future’s a palace, ours to be found

we’ll take it and name it, dress it and frame it

and claim it for those from this ground


from this ground we draw song

and we’ll dance all night long

in the company of kin, stranger and friend

all who’ve not forgotten we stand here in common

bondage and root to this ground


from this ground I have come

it’s where I’ll return

when time is no longer my friend

and all things come back, their beginnings, their ends

to take rest and peace from this ground


© sheepdipmusic 2018


2

2 poetry: Home


narration: dislocation of place and belonging had begun with enclosures, it

was one of the key conflicts that powered John Clare’s poetry.

This next song, ‘tresspass’ starts with some of Clare’s words


3 song: ‘trespass’ male vocal


he dreaded walking where there was no path

and cautious pressed the meadow swath

always turned to look with wary eye

feared the owner coming by…


teacher fears to act outwith the script

the measured task and box to tick

medic prods, prescribes, no time to care

too many to see, move from here to there

our commons of learning and of health

enclosed and farmed to harvest wealth

care and imagination elbowed out

by profit’s trough and banker’s snout


with clever hedge you built your funds

and left us bound in want where we had run

once freely no distinction marked

on common land in common heart


tresspass not this land, these precious lots

with statute hard and greedy plots

what once was common we will roam again

with rhythm, rhyme and pulse reclaim

and might you in turn now fear to tresspass

where we meet to sing and with heart rehearse

how to know our place in common and to be

by such common bondage then set free


with hope we walk where there is no path

imagination cuts our merry swath

we’ll level your hedge, trespass erased

and reclaim once more to know well our place.


© sheepdipmusic 2017


narration: grain imports, falling prices and rising mechanisation…in the

1870s agricultural labourers were near destitute. Following local

rallies across Warwickshire and the rest of the middle England

shires, the agricultural labourers’ union began at a mass meeting

in Wellesbourne, February 1872.


4 poem

A labourer listens to Joseph Arch outside the Stag’s Head pub, 7th February 1872


When he was a boy he had listened

to the Gospel, the feeding of the five

thousand. Instead of praying, had tried

to imagine such a river of people, bodies

close together, wide as seething water, deep

as sea. Tonight, despite the spindling wet

he thinks he might have found another

Bethesda, standing in this stream now, he

waits for a different miracle. He can’t see

or hear Joseph Arch from where he stands –

it doesn’t matter. The man under the tree

is an unlikely messiah, dressed in black,

a crow-scarer. His words will ripple like

fish to feed him, through mouths of other

men. Joseph doesn’t walk on water but brings

promise of something better. He has toiled

miles to hear this man, had set off when

morning was a tight dark fist, the ache

in his bones a far off-distance he knew

he would meet later on. Night is anvil-black

but the lantern-lit crowd looms, having

spilled from farms and common land, swaying

and swelling to this mighty ocean. The speech

beats the air and the bare branches bend back

translating small drops to weighted iron.

He feels change coming, as if the world

could belong to men like him, like they belong

to early mornings and hard soil and the scythe.

Men do not need to be carrion, stripped of their

land. The meek will inherit the earth.


© Olga Dermott Bond 2019


5 song: ‘it doesn’t add up’ ensemble

It doesn’t add up (polka 2/2)


chorus

It doesn’t add up, it doesn’t add up

A slice of bread is never enough

For a day in the field, with a scythe to wield

Oh no, it doesn’t add up


(man)

twelve bob a week is all I get

six on rent and candles, fuel and clothes

six left to feed the seven of us

ten pence a day – it doesn’t add up


chorus


(woman)

it’s 3/6 for a stone of flour & baking

we each get 14oz of bread a day

that’s 3½ ozs at each meal

when your belly’s not full - it doesn’t add up


chorus


(man)

and farmer says he’s not making any money

he started with two hundred now he’s strapped for cash

but it’s 1200 guineas when he sells an heifer

and he rides a fine hunter – it doesn’t add up


chorus


(man)

I ‘eard Arch in whitnash, says it’s bad out west

in Hereford they’re only on 7 bob a week

2 months with no meat, just bread dipped in cider

it addles your brain – when it doesn’t add up


chorus


unions sprang up all around the county

100 joined in Cubbington, Stretton too

same in Harbury, Kenilworth and Whitnash

then 2,000 in Wellesbourne, that’s how it adds up


chorus

that’s how it adds up, that’s how it adds up

when a slice of bread isn’t enough

for a day in the field with a scythe to wield

oh no, it doesn’t add up


(woman)

Sometimes I have a little dream….

Of how I think my life would be

If I could get the things we need

Just the basics, nothing fancy for me


(woman, spoken, music stops)

flour and baking for a week 3/6

meat for five on three days 2/8

coarse meat for the rest a shilling would do

the three what go to school is thrupence well spent

2 hundred weight of coal 1/6

tea, coffee and sugar, the same again

soap, starch, soda and blue is just a tanner

a tanner more would cover the candle flame

2/6 for clothes - five at 6 pence each

and if I dare I’d put 4d in the sick club

and then there’s the rent – at least one more bob

that’s fifteen shillings and thrupence

the very bare

me man’s only asked for sixteen, at present he’s on 12

wouldn’t it be great, but it doesn’t add up


chorus


(man) twelve bob a week is all I get

in Hereford they're only on 7 bob a week

(woman) sometimes I have a little dream

wouldn’t it be great

(all) but it doesn’t add up


chorus


© sheepdipmusic 2019


6 poem

The Leave Campaign, 1872, 2016

“Such, Sir, after a careful examination is the history of this unfortunate proceeding which has

brought misery and death on so many of her Majesty’s subjects”

Concluding comment from Mr Phipps to Mr Mathew, “Respecting the conditions of British

Emigrants in Brazil.” Rio de Janeiro, February 17th, 1873

Presented to Parliament in 1874

No. This is not the first time. Such

glittering lies to tell. 1872: “Sir,

listen to me: after

you have sold everything a

better life awaits, we have taken careful

measures and a full examination

of your new life in Brazil has been taken and is

found to be sufficient. Men leave. 2016. The

story is acted out again, another history

retold by a man in front of an empty red bus, stories of

350 million pounds that will come pouring in - if this

sceptred isle severs its own life blood. Unfortunate

believers still hungry in fields, in streets, proceeding

to leave, looking for something better which

of course was – and is - a hall of cracked mirrors which has

brought

misery

to those who travelled from Liverpool and

to those who wait here for some lost glory, impaled on the death

of an imagined Empire, whilst Mr Alsopp and Mr Johnson bring on

propaganda like a dancing girl, knowing that to do so

is to create a stage strewn with broken glass. How many

promises will bleed out on barren land, will speak of

a different tomorrow when already Thomas Fell’s wife is long dead, her

son buried with small pox, her Majesty’s

government has no answers now to their lost subjects?


© Olga Dermott Bond 2019


6

narration: for many agricultural labourers the only escape from poverty was

migration and that could mean far far away….. In 1872 each issue

of the Leamington Chronicle carried an advert from the Brazilian

Consulate in Liverpool offering free passage to work on coffee

and beef farms. As ever, the desperate plight that leads folk to

undertake long dangerous migrations often starts with hope, but

ends in tragedy.


7 song: ‘carry us away’


chorus:

Tom Alsop calls from atop his cart

will you come or will you stay

there’s a ship in Liverpool ready to depart

ready for to carry us away


with yankee grain so cheap it was hard to keep

to old ways upon this land

but the Brazilians offered free passage and a plot

so their agent had us understand

Stanton & Sheasby they were mates of his

Tom Alsop was his name

he lead them off from Napton-on-the-hill

for the ship that would carry them away


chorus


they landed in Rio stopped a week or two

then to the hills of Cananea far away

soil was so poor nothing much would grow

but it was here they were meant to stay

in Rio smallpox got a hold on some

lack of food soon took its toll

many now sleep in foreign soil

hope & hunger carried them away


Will Stanton petitioned for all to return

sought out the emperor, but with no joy

at his wife’s behest he jumped a ship to home

left her with their little boy

she wrote to her parents to defend her Will

bid them listen to what he had to say

so that others would not share her little boy’s fate

the smallpox had carried him away


chorus


A meeting was called in Napton at the Crown

Friday night they gathered tight, like in a pen

to hear returning Stanton give the case

against Alsop the Brazilians’ man

but Stanton failed to show his face

some said he was threatened, told to stay away

Alsop was left to harangue the local press

and the crowd got carried away


but the very next day a letter was received

from Tom Sheasby in Cananea

telling of the troubles and the hunger and the ills and the deaths

of those who’d been taken there

he said Alsop admitted the place was no good

tho’ he’d fill another ship at Liverpool quay

of desperate folk and their families

ready to be carried away


chorus


six more days, another Friday came

and Stanton appeared at the Crown

he told them fine detail of all that he had seen

of what their kin over there had found

he’d picked up portuguese and had learnt so much

they marvelled at the detail he did tell

and after an hour & half many thought he spoke the truth

and Tom Alsop could go to hell


chorus


© sheepdipmusic 2019


Narration: sometimes, migration was more local…to the city, whether close

by or to the large industrial cities of the north where

manufacturing was king


8 song: ‘leaving Warwickshire fields’ ensemble

leaving warwickshire fields (6/8 jig)


chorus

we’re going up north to find the work at making things I’ll try my part

not tending crops in the mud and the dirt,

leaving warwickshire fields, can’t wait to start


We’ll have a house of brick and slated roof all stood in a line

Running water everywhere, and I don’t mean down the street

A brick privy out the back, that's got to be so fine

And you’ll never believe but near everyday, we’ll get to eat the meat


Chorus


I’ll labour hard up at mill, that’s how I’ll make me way

p’raps I’ll get some training and become a skilled hand

and if I’m smart I’ll progress, up the ladder up the scale

and our house will have gas lighting, now wouldn’t that be grand


Chorus


The machines all run on steam up there, they go terrible fast

And those that work to maintain ‘em, command an handsome wage

It’s the industry of making, the mills of England they will last

I’m for a life in the city, it’s a shiny bright new age


Chorus


There’s a group of lads from Napton south amerikay bound

The Brazilians paid their passage to go labouring on their land

They’ll have sun and sea and sangria, festivals in the town

If it turns out Sheffield ain’t up to much, I might follow that happy band


chorus


Jacky’s come back to Warwickshire, says up north’s is not for him

The noise, the heat, the dust and soot, it’s far too mucky up there

He missed the peace and open fields, he couldn’t stand the din

Well I love these fields but the empty belly I simply cannot bear


Chorus


It’s time to leave for the future lass, don’t dither we have to go

I’m off to make a better life, we gotta make a start

But when I get to be rich and grand I want you all to know

It’s hard to leave these warwickshire fields, it’s where I leave my heart

Yes, it’s hard to leave these warwickshire fields,

Ieaving warwickshire fields, it’ll break my heart.


© sheepdipmusic 2019


9 poem

The song of sea and sand

“No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than land”

Father of Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, whose body was washed up on the Turkish coast.


For centuries, people have listened to the creak

and shudder of boats not built for long journeys –

he lies on pale sand how any toddler sleeps, face

down, limbs slack, feet turning in just a little –

rafts or dinghies not designed to carry so many

souls and scars and nightmares and hopes.

I can hardly bring myself to look at the photo:

his body perfect and peaceful and drowned.

There is no going back, the horizon swallows

language and family and familiar streets until –

a Turkish policeman can’t look at what he carries,

a shock of tenderness on his face, silent as prayer

the songs of women and children’s names

drift like bones along too many seabeds,

as if he knows already he will forever dream

the lightness of a child’s corpse in his hands.

having called out their homes to the winds

no papers, no place to mark the spot

the tide brushes away any trace too easily of this

boy that never got to run through yellow fields

they just wanted to be safe, to tread on dry

land, to call somewhere other than water

home.


© Olga Dermott Bond 2019


narration: Migrants develop their own culture. Contemporary migrant

culture on the Mediterranean crossing includes the practice of

calling out your name and your village when a boat goes down.

With no proper papers, it’s the only chance that someone might

remember you were there. The next song is called ‘Johanna’.

She set off with others in an inadequate boat nine months

pregnant. When thrown into the water, she was also thrown into

labour. Neither survived. If we can’t give strangers life, we at

least owe them their name….


10 song: ‘johanna’ male vocal


when the waters broke high over your head

it was hard to hear all of the things that were said

a last naming of self and the places of home

cries in the darkness to not be left alone?

or just calls to all of those who were near

to be witness, to remember, you were here?


when the waters broke over the little one’s head

no light flooded in, just darkness instead

no air rushed with a cry to fill out new lungs

washed in salt water before first breath begun

with no nurse to untangle the cord

at life’s first border she stayed an alien abroad


when the waters swirled and swallowed that boat

it n’er touched the conscience of those with the vote

who refused to suffer the children to be free

from their wars, for they fear they’ll swamp you and me

but this boat is not full, the idea is absurd

that a few strangers might wash our life overboard


when the waters broke high over your head

none heard your call to take the names of the dead

but of those who survived, one was the father of the child

his hand torn from yours in waters bitter, dark and wild

now he calls in his briny frustration

johanna, johanna, johanna, johanna, johanna, etritrean for congratulations


© sheepdipmusic 2016


11 2 poems

A different story:

In a different story there is enough room on the boat

In a different story the sea is calm

In a different story no one is scared of water

In a different story politicians make up beds in their spare rooms

In a different story mothers keep their wedding rings

In a different story the drowned get to dance

In a different story borders are open arms

In a different story the only thing to capsize is

children’s laughter


© Olga Dermott Bond 2019


Hyetal

We came here in a boat

flimsy as a broken umbrella –

my beautiful children wept,

their bright souls treading water.

We waited while governments

sent slow shuddering telegrams,

siphoned shifting promises

as long as the horizon, as hard

to reach. Belonging seemed

a slow, silent dream. Where

we are and where we could be

was fathomless: but now we are

Here. My children run to

school through splashing

singing puddles, pavements

laugh silver, like new oceans.

© Olga Dermott Bond


narration: knowing our place, where we belong, need not exclude others

from also knowing their place with us, place can be common..


12 song: ‘reprise of last 3 verses – ‘from this ground’ ensemble


from this ground we strike out

with a march and a shout

the future’s a palace, ours to be found

we’ll take it and name it, dress it and frame it

and claim it for those from this ground


from this ground we draw song

and we’ll dance all night long

in the company of kin, stranger and friend

all who’ve not forgotten we stand here in common

bondage and root to this ground


from this ground I have come

it’s where I’ll return

when time is no longer my friend

and all things come back, their beginnings, their ends

to take rest and peace from this ground


© sheepdipmusic 2018


All lyrics and music © michael luntley, sheepdipmusic

All poetry © Olga Dermott Bond 2019

Michael luntley, vocals, guitars, banjo, mandola; Maura Barnett, violin; Nicky Luntley, vocals;

Olga Dermott Bond, poetry.

With thanks to Leamington Library for hosting this. All money raised from this evening is

going to the homeless nightshelter: LWS nightshelter.

2 October 2019



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