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The Dominion of the Sword

[ Roud V3219 ; Bodleian Roud V3219 ; trad., new words Martin Carthy, James Fagan]

This is an old ballad written in the 17th century; it was published in 1686 in the Loyal Garland. The text is included in the Project Gutenberg's eText The Cavalier Songs and Ballads of England from 1642 to 1684, edited by Charles Mackay (1997).

Martin Carthy wrote current words for the song and recorded it for his 1988 album, Right of Passage; it was re-released in 1993 on Rigs of the Time: The Best of Martin Carthy and in 2003 on The Definitive Collection. A BBC live recording from September 1988 was published on the album The Kershaw Sessions. Martin Carthy commented in original album's sleeve notes:

A long time ago I came across The Dominion of the Sword in a Penguin anthology of War Poetry, and the longer I have known it the better it's got. It was written in 1649 by an anonymous pamphleteer and with the removal of verses or lines particular to that time becomes a reflection of the propaganda lie currently being touted for all it's worth (again) that violence or the threat of it will get you nowhere. The tune is adapted from a Breton pipe tune called Ar Ch'akouz (The Leper).

Melrose Quartet sang Dominion of the Sword, with a new verse written by James Fagan, as the title track of their 2017 CD Dominion.

Lyrics

Martin Carthy sings The Dominion of the Sword Melrose Quartet sing Dominion of the Sword

Lay by your pleading, law lies a-bleeding
Burn all your studies down, and throw away your reading
Small power the word has, and can afford us
Not half so much privilege as the sword does

Lay by your pleading, law lies a-bleeding
Burn all your studies down, and throw away your reading
Small power the word has, and can afford us
Not half so much privilege as the sword does

It'll the foster the master, plaster disaster
This'll make a servant quickly greater than the master
Ventures, enters, seeks and it centres
Ever the upper hand, never a dissenter

It'll the foster the master, plaster disaster
This'll make a servant quickly greater than the master
Ventures, enters, seeks and it centres
Ever the upper hand, never a dissenter

Kruger, Krugerrand-a, whither do you wander?
Gone to the suborning of Hastings Banda
Kruger, Krugerrand-a, tear you all asunder
Beira to Luanda, Gabarone to Nyanga

Kruger, Krugerrand-a, whither do you wander?
Gone to the suborning of Hastings Banda
Kruger, Krugerrand-a, tear you all asunder
Beira to Luanda, Gabarone to Nyanga

Talks of small things, it sets up all things
This'll master money, though money masters all things
It is not season to talk of reason
Never call it loyal when the sword says treason

Talks of small things, it sets up all things
This'll master money, though money masters all things
It is not season to talk of reason
Never call it loyal when the sword says treason

Balm for the worrier, the whaler, the furrier
This'll get the measure of a Rainbow Warrior
Incognito, come and sink a Rainbow
President will never know, I should bloody coco

Balm for the whaler, balm for the furrier
This'll get the measure of a eco warrior
Incognito, come and sink a Rainbow
President will never know, I should bloody coco

Build a drone, fly it, governments will buy it
Devils in the desert sand give us a chance to try it
Don't need ther ident, propaganda strident
Blow them up remotely with a Hellfire or Trident

Subtle deceiver turns calm to fever
See the pilgrim flay the unbeliever
It'll make a lay man preach and to pray man
It'll make a Lord of him that was but a drayman

Subtle deceiver turns calm to fever
See the pilgrim flay the unbeliever
It'll make a lay man preach and to pray man
It'll make a Lord of him that was but a drayman

Conquers the crown too, grave and the gown too
Set you up a province, but it'll pull it down too
No gospel can guide it, no law decide it
In church or state, till the sword sanctified it

Conquers the crown too, grave and the gown too
Set you up a province, but it'll pull it down too
No gospel can guide it, no law decide it
In church or state, till the sword sanctified it

Take books, rent 'em, who can invent 'em?
When that the sword says there'll be no argumentum
Blood that is spilt, sir, has gained all the guilt, sir
Thus have you seen me run my sword up to the hilt, sir

Take books, rent 'em, who can invent 'em?
When that the sword says there'll be no argumentum
Blood that is spilt, sir, has gained all the guilt, sir
Thus have you seen me run my sword up to the hilt, sir

Acknowledgements

Transcription by Garry Gillard with a head start and some more help from Wolfgang Hell. Many thanks also to Ed Pellow. For more information, see the Mudcad thread Lyr Req: Dominion of the Sword (Martin Carthy).