A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

Phil Ochs

"When in Rome"

In the fire blue forests, faded and forgotten
I crawled through the cotton fields, picking for cotton
The overseer sneered, his whipping was rotten
With ecstasy

In child-like terror I tore out the tap roots
Cards of the lash were calling to follow suit
I dashed for the swamps, the hounds in hot pursuit
Jealously

All through the night a figure of fright
As I hid my head
And they buried their nose in a cut of my clothes
Now torn in shreds
And they never would leave until they believed
That I was dead

But I'd never curse their names
Oh, who am I to blame?
I know I'd do the same
Endlessly

[Chorus]
And all the high-born ladies
So lovely and so true
Have been handed to the soldiers
When in Rome do as the Romans do

Frail and afraid in the mists of the morning
The snakes and the spiders were sadly performing
The bark of the dogs kept up the warning
Inside the wood

Sweating and swearing I crawled from the manger
The highway appeared to take me from danger
Is there anyone here who would pick up a stranger?
Oh I wish you could

Then someone replied "would you like a ride?"
"Come in" he said
We drove for a while, he gave me a smile
And a piece of bread
The hammer was hard in the chrome of the car
As I cracked his head

Then we took off in a spin
Oh I smashed his skull again
Oh thank you my good friend
I feel so good

And all the high-born ladies
So lovely and so true
Have been handed to the soldiers
When in Rome do as the Romans do

Late in the evening I came to the city
I fell to the sidewalks sighing for pity
A diamond was dropped from the hands of the pretty
To be so kind

Cowards and corpses were busy competing
The rhymes of the riots were busy repeating
I raced to the corner and sped from the speeding
To save my mind

Latches and locks, companies of cops
Ran from the rain
There was silk in the stores for the whims of the whores
That shone with shame
I asked for a light from a priest in the night
Then I fanned the flames

And the traffic all stood still
To see if someone had been killed
I was glad to leave a thrill
So far behind

And all the high-born ladies
So lovely and so true
Have been handed to the soldiers
When in Rome do as the Romans do

A monk and his mother were dancing so dandy
A topless nun was handing out candy
The beautiful bishop broke out the brandy
The kiss we crave

They stuttered and stammered, would I feel like staying
We fell to our knees, feverishly praying
The salt in the saltpeter seemed to be saying
Be brave, be brave

I reached reached for a robe, I preached and I probed
And I taught the tune
And the greed for the gills was played to the hilt
As I promised doom
I toyed with their fears, until coins and tears
Filled the room

Then I took off down the road
Laughing madly like a toad
God bless every soulless soul
That would be saved

And all the high-born ladies
So lovely and so true
Have been handed to the soldiers
When in Rome do as the Romans do

A chorus of children were passing the hours
I joined in their fun and gave them my flowers
Covered with kisses and showered with showers
That they repaid

Taken and trusting, would I be their teacher?
She looked so appealing, I wanted to touch her
Just out of reach, unable to reach her
Their hands were raised

Charmed by the chalk, the lessons were taught
Inside the class
They studied the rules of the Samurai schools
They had to pass
The room was adjourned, the lessons were learned
I turned on the gas

And I watched them make their pleas
They passed the test with ease
I gave them their degrees
They made the grade

And all the high-born ladies
So lovely and so true
Have been handed to the soldiers
When in Rome do as the Romans do

Feeling my weakness, a coward for company
I joined the ranks of the hot and hungry
To teach what it means to have love for your country
We marched away

We lowered our lives for the lines of a border
We danced with the mothers, played with the daughters
We followed our fantasies, following orders
It was child's play

After the war the bullets were bored
So we capped the game
With cynical smiles we put them on trial
To place the blame
Now what kind of beast would love such a feast
Have you no shame?

So we hung them by the feet
Oh, we shot them in the street
Oh, the victory was sweet
On victory day

And all the high-born ladies
So lovely and so true
Have been handed to the soldiers
When in Rome do as the Romans do

The bread and the circuses came to be nearing
The Saviour or somebody must be appearing
Pagans and pageants were all disappearing
Inside my head

The stones on the statues were staring and stalling
Caesar and Cassius were cursing and calling
The empire had risen and now it was falling
Or so it seemed

The crown and the cross seemed empty and lost
In dark despair
And luminous lies, death in disguise
Were everywhere
The canvas was cold, the story was old
I said my prayers

Then I crowned him on the head
Oh, I blessed him as he bled
Oh At last, the King is dead
God save the Queen

And all the high-born ladies
So lovely and so true
Have been handed to the soldiers
When in Rome do as the Romans do

Now nothing remained for building or burning
The losing of lovers was all I was learning
A time for escape and a time for returning
Had come to me

Back through the ashes and back through the embers
Back through the roads and the ruins I remembered
My hands at my side I sadly surrendered
Do as you please

The hero was home, proven and grown
I fell on the floor
Mad with romance they started to dance
Their star was born
I bled like the rain, exploded in pain
Then I screamed for more

Oh, make me feel sublime
Release me from my mind
Oh, Kill me one more time
And set me free

And all the high-born ladies
So lovely and so true
Have been handed to the soldiers
When in Rome do as the Romans do

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #


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