Labouring With The Hoe

A poem by Francis MacNamara
[Tune and performance The Timbers]


I was convicted by the laws
Of England's hostile crown
Conveyed across those swelling seas
In slavery's fetters bound
Forever banished from that shore
Where love and friendship grow
That loss of freedom to deplore
And work the labouring hoe

Despised rejected and oppressed
In tattered rags I'm clad
What anguish fills my aching breast
And drives me almost mad
When I hear the settler's threatening voice
Say Arise to labour go!
Take scourging convict for your choice
Or work the labouring hoe

Growing weary from compulsive toil
Beneath the noontide sun
While drops of sweat bedew the soil
My task remains undone
I'm flogged for wilful negligence
Or the tyrant calls it so
Oh what a doleful recompense
For labouring with the hoe

Behold yon lofty woodbine hills
Where the rose in the morning shines
Those crystal brooks that do distil
And mingle with those vines
There seems to me no pleasure gained
They but augment my woe
While here an outcast doomed to live
And work the labouring hoe

You generous sons of Erin's isle
Whose heart for glory burns
Pity a wretched exile
Who his long-lost country mourns
Restore me heaven to liberty
Whilst I lie here below
Untie this clue of bondage
And release me from the hoe!

Notes

Many thanks to Jacob Habner of Stobie Sounds and The Timbers for permission to add this song to the Union Songs collection.
The song is included on an album devoted entirely to modern musical interpretations of Frank the Poet's work which is being recorded and compiled by Stobie Sounds in South Australia.
see also Timbers and Steel article