Thursday, 1 April 2010

Tom Paine


Tom Paine was a radical writer
A revolutionary pamphleteer
He was born in Thetford England
In Seventeen Thirty Seven

He came from a family of Quakers
Their profession was courset-makers
After several years at sea
And working excise duties
He sailed to Americay

Wars of Independence as a private he did support
"These are the times that try Men's souls" he did report


Jefferson the future president
Read a pamphlet called "Common Sense"
That was written by Paine and inspired
The Declaration of Independence

Common Sense it was widely read
But it didn't go to everybody's head
John Chalmers called him "A political quack"
John Adams called it "Crapulous Mass"

Newly formed Congress made him a secretary
And he met Iraquois Indians, saw harmony and dignity


But he lost his position it is true
When to secret talks with France he did allude
Paine was sent over there to aquire a loan
Returning with silver and gold

This improved his lot to be sure
They gave him an estate, he took little more
Franklin was involved and Washington too
The money went straight into their cause

This was the only real estate that Paine ever owned
In Bordertown New Jersey he made his intermittent home


When back in London in Seventeen Eighty Seven
Paine was living a private life
Revolution once again called his name
And he went back over to France

The Bastille fell in 'Eighty Nine
But it felt very different this time
Edmund Burke wrote a critique, "Reflections
On the Revolution in France"

Many people wrote replies but Paine's they wanted burned
His shocking, eloquent and dangerous 'The Rights of Man'


It was William Blake the poet
Who tipped Tom off to head for Paris
When the State cried "Sedition" and "Libel"
This was one boat he didn't miss

Paine was tried 'in absentia'
Because the government must have felt the fear
They had agents make hate mobs and burn effigies
Just to make their feelings clear

Paine answered, "If it is libellous to promote Universal Peace
And expose the fraud of Monarchy, let 'Libeller' be written on my grave"


Even though he spoke no word of French
Thomas Paine was elected Deputy
Of the National Convention
Where he voted with the Girondists

At the trial of King Louis the Sixteenth
It was said that Thomas Paine alone
Would have it that the King was granted
Asylum in America

After all, it was the Royalists who gave silver to his Revolution
Even for the Monarchy, he saw executions were no solution


Now Robespierre and the Montagnards
Had risen up into power
As an ally of the disfavoured Girondins
Paine was arrested and banged up in some tower

Knowing he might meet the guillotine
Thomas once again took up his pen
To assault established religion
With his book 'The Age of Reason'

A chalk 4 on the door meant death in the morn
But Paine was ill, the door ajar for a breeze, the mark was missed,
Death's Angel passed him o'er


The new American Minister to France
Successfully argued the case
For Paine's American citizenship
And he was re-admitted to the Electorate

He opposed the new constitution
Of Seventeen Seventy Five
It was a Montagnard document
Which for some the vote it denied

It is said that he met Napoleon and plotted an English Invasion
Bonaparte doted on Paine, who decided he was "The Completest Charlatan"


Paine believed that now America
Had betrayed Revolutionary France
French and English politics disgusted him
He was really losing friends very fast

Back to America he went
But his popularity it was spent
People had read his Age of Reason
-Too much for their deluded religion

Paine thought that Washington had abandoned him
And accused him of private betrayal and public hypocrisy


Thomas Paine died at age Seventy Two
When it seemed his reputation was through
Only six people came to his funeral
Including Negros two

"Shunned, abhored and execrated"
So many had wanted him dead
Though his name was dirt to most
"He preserved the poise of his soul"

Paine had been unshaken, his convictions remained intact
Still a freedom soldier, he never gave the hatred back


Paine had lived the life of a Deist
He said "My mind is my own church"
He thought that private ownership
Robbed the people of the Right of their birth

He proposed emancipating slaves
And also the pension for old age
And a National Fund for everyone
Compensating for land taken away

William Cobbett exhumed his bones and took them back to England
Where in youth, the jeering mobs at Thetford stocks made concern for justice his natural opinion

chorus: chorus: chorus

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