The Fall of King Gold

This is a combination of two poems: The Reign of King Gold and The Downfall of Mammon. The first describes the degrading and dehumanising effects of greed; the second envisages a future time when people have repented of their ways and established a fairer and juster society.  The song begins with the announcement (from the second poem) that the Reign of King Gold is over, then proceeds to a description of that reign (from the first poem) before returning to describe the future Utopian society.

The Reign of King Gold, sometimes called The Reign of Gold or King Gold, was an early poem which Skipsey clearly valued, often describing himself in publicity materials as 'Author of The Reign of King Gold' or some such phrase.  It was published in Poems (1871) and then in A Book of Miscellaneous Lyrics (1878), Carols from the Coalfields (1886) and Carols, Songs and Ballads (1888).

The Downfall of Mammon appeared in A Book of Miscellaneous Lyrics (1878) and Carols from the Coalfields (1886) where it is the second of a group of ten poems entitled 'Psychic Poems' and has an alternative title: 'The Poet's Dream'.


The baleful era of King Gold is vanished
And men repenting of the part they played
From out the temple of the heart have banished
The idols that debased the souls they swayed.

It sounded in castle and palace
It sounded in cottage and shed
It sped over mountains and valleys
And withered the earth as it sped
Like a blast in its foul desecration
Of all that we dearly should hold
It thrilled through the nerves of the nation
A cry for the reign of King Gold.

Twas based upon fiendish persuasions
Cemented by crimes manifold
Embellished by specious ovations
That dazzled the foes of King Gold
And sympathy, rein’d in a halter
Was led to the temple and sold
Devotion herself, at the altar,
Paid homage alone to King Gold.

Affection on whose honey blossoms
The child of affliction still fed
Affection is plucked from the bosom
And malice implanted instead
And dark grow the brows of the tender
And colder the hearts of the cold;
Love, pity and justice surrender
Their charge to the hounds of King Gold

It sounded in castle and palace
It sounded in cottage and shed
It sped over mountains and valleys
And withered the earth as it sped
Like a blast in its foul desecration
Of all that we dearly should hold
It thrilled through the nerves of the nation -
Cling Clang for the reign of King Gold.

But now the baleful era of King Gold is vanished
And men repenting of the part they played
From out the temple of the heart have banished
The idols that debased the souls they swayed.
Instead of selfishness and actions cruel
Generous deeds inspired by love abound
And Charity’s esteemed a richer jewel
Than ever yet in Orient mine was found

Instead of lies and falsehood, grim and hideous,
Truth has triumphed; and whate’er obtains
Envy no longer can, with hints invidious
Cause man to visit brother man with pain.

No longer prompted by fell aspirations
Does man send havoc into realms afar
But gains from acts of peace more prized ovations
Than ever gratified the sons of war.

The baleful era of King Gold has vanished
The idols that debased the soul they chained
From out the temple of the heart are banished
And at last Utopia is obtained.
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