On Labour In Vain lived Michael Strong, a quiet farmers lad

He spent his life a riddling tates  and up to his guts in squad.

But Michael was a dreamer, with one thing on his mind

One day he’d find the treasure that King John had left behind.


From books he knew in twelve sixteen John sailed across the Wash

The laden boat was over-turned, the bounty it was lost.

But since that time the Wash had shrunk, So pondering the matter

He was sure it lay on a river bed beneath the murky watter.




He Searched the Witham, the Welland, the Neane, the Baine

Carr Dyke, Skel Dyke, Great Ouse, Foss dyke

Twelve foot, Forty foot, any drain the Wash took.

River, sandbank, dyke and drain.  (repeat)

The old boy’s searches all in vain


When ploughing up on North Kyme fen he heard a shout from dad

“Keep your mind on the job mate, your furrows out of wad!!”

Though Michael made a living from the soil and the sheaf

His mind was always wondering, to what laid underneath.


As time passed by now middle aged, with bairns of his own

On weekends Michael dragged them out, turning every stone.

When came holidays the children asked. “Why aren’t we like the rest”

“Most kids go to Skeggy, and we look for a chest!!”

Aaw!, come on dad


Chorus (we’ve searched)


The years rolled on, we all get old, the land had took its toll

Michael now a frail old man, in the same house all alone.

His wife passed on, ooh, must be twenty years, and the children flew the nest.

He’d given up his childish search.  There was no cursed chest.


It was in the winter of 85 when Michael passed away

In a damp dark room his gathered kin heard the words he chose say

Please bury me where I’ve toiled and ached, upon the land I’ve kept

His skin went pale and his eyes they closed as his children watched and wept


As the next sun rose the boys went out to dig their father’s grave

The frost lay thick on the well worked land ‘til evening they did slave

When 5 ft down the spade hit hard, and snapped the shaft off clean

A silver chest lay in the earth and a coin from 12 16



With pounding hearts but not a word they turned back to their home

And took old Michaels coffin  back to the land he’d honed

They lay the coffin in the ground, til no lower it would sink

It came to rest on an old mans dreams, the grave they then filled in


But as soil rained on the coffin lid a voice began to sing

Twas that of a fenland farmer, laid upon the treasure of a king



(I’ve searched)

(The treasure was his)

An Ode to Michael Strong  Brommell, Pout and Glenn

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