The Wheels of the World
|Acrylics on canvas (1m x 30cm)|
Arf 'I'm not Irish!' Wellesley and Abba fought the combined legions of the French Empire under Napoleon Dynamite. There were some Prussians involved who turned up late/or just in time, whatever your point of view.
I wasn't there, in fact. And neither were you. But for the Irish, it was a win-win/lose-lose situation considering we fought on both sides. Isn't that a topsy-turvy way of going about? Not at all odd, really considering the circumstances in Ireland at the time.
So here are the lyrics of a song which has been passed down through two hundred years and which still ring true. If you think my painting is mad, try European politics:
The Wheels of the World
Come all you true sons of Erin; attend to these few simple lines:
I'll sing you a song about spinning. It was a good trade in old times.
Some they spun worsted and yarn, and others they spun flax and tow.
By experience, my friends, you may learn how the wheels of the world they do go.
Luther spun out his existence, and so did King Henry the Eighth.
John Calvin by Satan's temptation, their maxims he did imitate.
Tom Cranmer he joined the new system, and swore he'd make spindles of steel.
Pluto himself did assist them, perdition that turned their wheel.
CHORUS: So these are the wheels of the world, my friends, you must all understand.
For three hundred years, they've been spinning destruction all over the land.
John Mitchell the brave son of Erin, declared that a spinner he'd be.
He got all his wheels in full motion, his dear native land to set free.
But Lord Clarendon the lieutenant, at spinning he was fully bent,
And unto the Isle of Bermuda the sons of Hibernia were sent.
Lord Nelson he was a good spinner on board of the ship Victory.
He was counted the greatest of spinners that ever set sail on the sea.
His shipmen were all famous spinners. For Nelson they spun very well,
But the French spun a ball in Trafalgar, and on the ship deck Nelson fell.
Billy Pitt too was a good spinner, and so was Lord Castlereagh.
Sure they spun out the Union from Ireland. To England they shipped it away.
Poor Billy spun out his existence, and banished in Charon's old boat.
Then Lord Castlereagh saved his distance, by cutting the rim of his throat.
Napoleon he was a good spinner, for freedom did always advance.
Over deserts and great lofty mountains, he led on the brave sons of France.
Old Wellington he went a-spinning. His wheels they were at Waterloo;
But if Grouchy had never been bribed, the French would have split him in two.
Prince Albert came spinning to England. His wheel by a compass did steer.
He spun out a queen for his consort, and some little thousands a year.
John Bull must now go a-spinning. A few thousands more he must fork,
For the Queen has another young son that was spun in the city of Cork.
The factory masters are spinning. Their wheels they are turning away,
And now they are wanting their hands for to work thirteen hours a day.
They don't care a fig for the poor. They heed not their sighs nor their moans.
They don't care a pin if you work till you spin all the flesh off your bones.
The rich they are all famous spinners, and you are very well sure
They are always contriving a scheme to crush down the rights of the poor.
So if you're compelled to go spinning, let each of your spindles be steel.
Let "Liberty" then be your motto, and glory will turn your wheel.
You can even hear a version of the song sung by the excellent Len Graham: https://beta.prx.org/stories/141307 Starts at 15mins 15secs.