Protest Poetry

Public-Lands Heist, Public-Lands Access

Protest Poetry

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Unknown Agitator

This folk rhyme was written in 17th-century England by an unknown agitator; in light of recent efforts to privatize wildlife and our priceless public landscapes, its message rings just as true today. —THE EDITORS

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose. 

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine 

 

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law. 

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.

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