(Air: "Paddy's Lament")
There's a cuckoo** in our household
And he terrifies our young,
For the habits of the traitor
Have been often told and sung.
Though his feathers flutter softly,
There is murder in his heart,
And all down the toiling ages,
He has played the villain's part.
Oh! We hate the cruel tiger,
And hyena and jackal,
But the false and dirty blackleg
Is the vilest beast of all,
When we dress*** our brave battalions
And confront the lords of loot,
We behold the scab desert us
Ere the guns begin to shoot.
Just to gorge his greedy stomach,
And to save his coward skin,
With salvation in the balance,
He betrays his kith and kin.
You can tell him 'midst a thousand
By his cringe and by his crawl,
For of dignity or courage
He possesses none at all.
In the ale-shop he's a sponger,
In the workshop he's a spy;
He's a liar and deceiver,
With low cunning in his eye.
Let us flout him in the market;
Let us 'cut' **** him in the street;
Let us jeer him from all places
Where the honest workers meet.
When to greet his brazen features
Every decent door is slammed,
We will leave him burst and broken
To go down among the damned.
[Jim Connell put a note to this song:
"The appearance of a blackleg in public
constitutes a very apposite occasion
for practicing the cuckoo's call."]
*"Blackleg" was derived from the fact
that scab miners who worked during
a strike could be identified by their
blackened legs. Another, early,
Nineteenth Century name for a scab
was "dunghill"; stalwart unionists
were called "flints".
**The cuckoo is said to lay his eggs
in other birds' nests; the new hatched
cuckoo ejects the other birds from
***"Dress our brave batallions":
form up and "parade" the srtrikers
for the battle
****"Cut" - shun, refuse to acknowledge him
as an acquaintance.