by

The Goose and the Common

The Goose and the Common

Authors unknown Рa number of versions©1700s

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 off 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
[Seventeenth century protest against English enclosures]

Variations

They hang the man and flog the woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
Yet let the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose

The law doth punish man or woman
That steals the goose from off the common
But lets the greater felon loose
That steals the common from the goose

The law locks up the hapless felon
who steals the goose from off the common
but lets the greater felon loose
who steals the common from the goose

The fault is great in man or woman
Who steals a goose from off a common
But what can plead that man’s excuse
Who steals a common from a goose
[In The Tickler Magazine 1 February 1821]

http://unionsong.com/u765.html