The Goose and the Common was a protest rhyme probably first coined at the end of the 17th century. It rails against the process of enclosure, whereby land which had been traditionally farmed by peasants or grazed by their livestock was enclosed for the use of the landed gentry who technically held the deeds. It thereby ceased to be land for communal use and was often made into private pasture or hunting grounds. As a consequence, vast numbers of poor were deprived of a means of feeding themselves and there was steady depopulation of the countryside.
Various versions of this anonymous verse exist – it’s a cry against the effects of unbridled private ownership and neoliberal values. Still relevant today, perhaps?
The backdrop on this tea towel is from a painting by a 19th century Italian artist, Antonio Montemezzo.