The Heads | American Revolution War Song

About the author

Frank Moore
Frank Moore

Frank Moore was a journalist and Revolutionary historian. He published a number of books on the American Revolution during his career in the mid-19th century, including Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution, Diary of the American Revolution and The Patriot Preachers of the American Revolution.

This song was probably written in England. There were several versions of it published in this country. We select the best.

The Heads

YE wrong heads, and strong heads attend to my strains;
Ye clear heads, and queer heads, and heads without brains;
Ye thick skulls, and quick skulls, and heads great and small;
And ye heads that aspire to be heads over all.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Ye ladies – I would not offend for the world,
Whose bright heads, and light heads, are feather’d and curl’d;
The mighty dimensions dame Nature surprise,
To find she’d so grossly mistaken the size.

And ye petit-maitres, your heads I might spare,
Encumber’d with nothing – but powder and hair;
Who vainly disgrace the true monkey race,
By transplanting the tail from its own native place.

Enough might be said, durst I venture my rhymes,
On crown’d heads, and round heads, of these modern times;
This slippery path let me cautiously tread –
The neck else may answer, perhaps, for the head.

The heads of the church, and the heads of the state,
Have taught much, and wrought much, – too much to repeat;
On the neck of corruption uplifted, ’tis said,
Some rulers, alas ! are too high by the head.

Ye schemers and dreamers of politic things,
Projecting the downfall of kingdoms and kings;
Can your wisdom declare how this body is fed,
When the members rebel and wage war with the head?

Expounders, confounders, and heads of the law,
I bring case in point, do not point out a flaw;
If reason is treason, what plea shall I plead?
To your chief I appeal – for your chief has a head.

On Britannia’s bosom sweet Liberty smil’d,
The parent grew strong while she foster’d the child, Neglecting her offspring, a fever she bred,
Which contracted her limbs, and distracted her head.

Ye learnèd state doctors, your labors are vain, Proceeding by bleeding to settle her brain;
Much less can your art the lost members restore, Amputation must follow – perhaps something more.

Pale Goddess of Whim ! when with cheeks lean or full,
Thy influen ce seizes an Englishman’s skull,
He blunders, yet wonders his schemes ever fail,
Tho’ often mistaking the head for the tail.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.

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