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Ballad of John MacLean

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Ballad of John MacLean

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Ballad of John MacLean
(Matt McGinn)

Dominie, Dominie
There was nane like John MacLean,
The fighting Dominie

Tell me where ye're gaun, lad, and who ye're gaun to meet--
I'm headed for the station that's in Buchanan Street,
I'll join 200,000 that's there to meet the train
That's bringing back to Glasgow our own dear John MacLean

Tell me whaur he's been, lad, and why has he been there?
They've had him in the prison for preaching in the Square,
For Johnny held a finger at all the ills he saw,
He was right side o' the people, but he was wrong side o' the law:

Johnny was a teacher in one o' Glasgow's schools
The golden law was silence but Johnny broke the rules,
For a world of social justice  young Johnny couldnae wait,
He took his chalk and easel to the men at the shipyard gate.

The leaders o' the nation made money hand o'er fist
By grinding down the people by the fiddle and the twist,
Aided and abetted by the preacher and the Press --
John called for revolution and he called for nothing less:

The bosses and the judges united as one man
For Johnny was a  danger to their '14-'18 plan,
They wanted men for slaughter in the fields of Armentiers,
John called upon the people to smash the profiteers:

They brought him to the courtroom in Edinburgh toun,
But still he didnae cower, he firmly held his ground,
And stoutly he defended his every word and deed,
Five years it was his sentence in the jail at Peterheid:

Seven months he lingered in prison misery
Till the people rose in fury, in Glasgow and Dundee,
Lloyd George and  all his cronies were shaken to the core,
The prison gates were opened, and John was free once more:

As printed in Arthur Argo's _Chapbook_, Vol 4, No 1, c1965

Note: John Maclean (1879-1923) was the great Communist labor leader of
Scotland.  He was jailed ostensibly for his opposition to WW I with a
5-year sentence.  The public outcry was so great, however, that he was
released after 7 months.  The triumphant return to Glasgow, especially
celebrated by Hamish Henderson in "The John MacLean March," was
December 3, 1918.

Although effectively expurgated from the history books until recently,
there are now several biographies and books of his writings available.

copyright Matt McGinn
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