THE BALLAD OF CONSTANT ROBERTS
Words: Hal Frank
Music: "The Sheffield Apprentice"
My name is Constant Roberts, Sir. You would not know that name
Outside our town of Marthy's Well I have no worldly fame.
I've served my time on Contract; now I work the blacksmith's trade.
I love my God, my wife and son - for them my life was made.
At sixteen years I left the school, a conscript lad to be.
They 'signed me to the Redlegs then, in the bold Artillery.
I leveled gun and launching tube; I primed and fused the shell,
And I gloried in my uniform, for my Elders taught me well.
And then one day the shipped me out - me and ten thousand more
To trade our blood for vredit in some God-damned alien war;
With our cannons left behind us in some hot and dusty town,
With rifle gun and bayonet to keep the Locals down.
Right soon I rose to Bombardier, a leader over ten.
Then in the cold, grey light of dawn they called me and my men,
Saying "Take ye up your rifle guns - and don your best array,
For there's a fellow to be hanged upon this market day!".
I never asked no questions, Sir - 'twas no concern of mine;
They'd signed us up as constables to guard that transport line.
And if we had to kill a man - well, that was duty, too.
But I never touched no hangman's rope, and I swear by God that's true.
It's easy for to kill a man, I first did see that day:
A little swing upon the string and the soul is bound away,
With a paper on his breast to show his crimes for all to see:
A child of God like you, my friend, or a child of Hell like me.
They always hang them to the tree, since mankind first begun:
The thief, the witch, the prophet, or God's One Begotten Son;
With half a troop of soldiers to guard them to the tree:
The Legionaires of Pilate, or the Friendly lads like me.
Soon after that they pulled us out and shipped us up the line,
And firing counter-battery I got this stump of mine,
And they took me back to Harmony and gave me back my life;
With an iron forge and an iron hook and a true and loving wife.
And now Conscription's coming 'round, and my son has gone sixteen.
And will he be a Redleg as once his Dad had been?
And will they take him from Harmony to someplace - God knows where?
And place upon his mother's son the things no child should bear?
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