The World Turned Upside Down


Dick Gaughan – The World Turned Upside Down
Dick Gaughan performs The World Turned Upside down live in the Céilí House, Lurgan, January 16, 2009.

The World Turned Upside Down is a perhaps the best song written about English enclosures and struggles for commons. It talks about the struggles of the ”Diggers” who reclaimed the king’s land as a commons for all. It was composed by Leon Rosselson in 1975, taken into the charts in 1985 by Billy Bragg and also performed by Dick Gaughan, Chumbawamba and Attila the Stockbroker among others. For a background, text of the song and the original Leon Rosselson track see here

Here Dick Gaughan performs The World Turned Upside down live in the Céilí House, Lurgan, January 16, 2009.

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a
common treasury
For everyone to share


5 Responses to “The World Turned Upside Down”

  1. jeansykazadi Says:

    I read the song’s text; it is really moving. Perhaps the following abstract expresses deeply the diggers’ mind:

    The earth was made a common treasury
    For everyone to share
    All things in common

  2. sergiu sidei Says:

    It is a very good idea to express common wants and desires through arts. This way people might understand the idea of commoms more easily. It is more easy and fun to listen to a song or watch an art work than to than to listen to rigid discourses or read literature. The lyrics of the song are easy to remember and and they come in one’s mind again and again and the message of the song can have a greater impact on a person’s mind and actions than any other source.
    By the simple fact that the song has been up-loaded on and can be downloaded from youtube, which is already a proper example of commons, everyone using it is already experiencing the commons and can see how helpful and necessary the return to commons is.
    Isn’t it?

  3. chikaj Says:

    I have endeavoured to fully comprehend the Idea of the commons; drawing form related blogs e.g. The Zapatistas, The Rise of the Neo-Hardinians (Eleanor Ostrom) which have both been insightful but this music de-formalises the entire concept. What at a unique way to express the ordeal of the commons.
    I wish lectures were delivered as the one above. That way, we can relax, enjoy the instruments and even memorize without much effort all we are required to know. Truly, music is medicine for the soul.
    Listen to the lyrics and you can feel the passion behind the fight against enclosure. Please see below:

    The World Turned Upside Down
    We will not worship the God they serve, a God of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk starve.
    In 1649 to St. George’s Hill
    A ragged band they called the Diggers came to show the people’s will
    They defied the landlords, they defied the laws
    They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs.
    We come in peace, they said, to dig and sow
    We come to work the lands in common and make the waste ground grow
    This earth divided we will make whole
    So it may be a common treasury for all
    The sin of property we do disdain
    No man has any right to buy or sell the earth for private gain
    By theft and murder they took the land
    Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command
    They make the laws to chain us well
    The clergy dazzle us with heaven, or they damn us into hell
    We will not worship the God they serve,
    a God of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk starve
    We work and eat together, we need no swords
    We will not bow to masters, nor pay rent to the lords
    Still we are free, though we are poor
    Ye Diggers all, stand up for glory, stand up now!
    From the men of property the orders came
    They sent the hired men and troopers to wipe out the Diggers’ claim
    Tear down their cottages, destroy their corn
    They were dispersed – only the vision lingers on
    Ye poor take courage, ye rich take care
    This earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share
    All things in common, all people one
    They came in peace – the order came to cut them down.

  4. diatezuam Says:

    So goes “Geronimo’s Cadillac,” a Michael Martin Murphey song recorded by Dick Gaughan and dedicated in performance to Native American hero and prisoner, Leonard Peltier. Gaughan sees a direct link between the injustice of Peltier’s captivity and the suppression of the will and the hopes of downtrodden peoples worldwide. He says that the history of meddling by brutal outsiders is a subject well-known to Scots. “We used to elect our King in Scotland, you know. The last one we elected was “MacBeth”, quips Dick Gaughan, working hard to adjust his accoustic guitar to “bagpipe tuning” just prior to a sold-out show in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Gaughan goes on to criticize the inherited-monarchy system of the UK, class injustice and unrepresentative government in general. “I think Mrs. Windsor [Queen Elizabeth] is probably a very nice, wealthy woman, butthere’s few Scots want her telling us what to do in our own country,” he chuckles. He asserts his own belief in Scottish Republicanism, and undiminished hope for democratic rule to triumph worldwide. Retrieved from
    Sprung from Highland Scots and Irish parents, Dick Gaughan is the established Bard of Edinburgh, a central figure in the 1970s Celtic folk revival with The Boys of the Lough, and one of the world’s most admired guitarists and songwriters. His early solo record, Handful of Dust, is an essential classic. His work with Billy Bragg, Andy Ivrine and the bands Five Hand Reel and Clan Alba is legendary.
    Asked about the Scottish tradition of sad songs longing for the return of “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and a lost golden age of the Highland Clans, Gaughan snorts in disgust. “Charles Edward Stuart was a bloody cretin! The man spent hardly twop years of his whole life in Scotland and he was a terrible coward! Most of those damned songs were written a hundred years later by people who never knewq him or what suffering he caused the Scots!”
    Indeed, on his later CD, Sail on, Gaughan “slags off” both Bonnie Charlie, (“He ran likea rabbitt through the glen, leaving better folk than him to be butchered”) and weepy-eyed Scots nostalgia addicts, (“waiting for the Jacobites to come and save the land”). Dick’s Gaughan instead turns a clear eye on history and on present-day human struggles, as he calls for a true “rising” of the poor and disenfranchised in songs like “No cause For Alarm”: If you wish to see the world turned upside down to perfection, just turn to the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: here you have a whole summary of the world reversed. Jesus Christ turned the world upside down the first sermon he preached. Look at the third verse. Retrieved from

  5. Chikaj Says:

    By the way, the lyrics of “The world turned upside down” was sourced from

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