To Breathe The Air Around Tom Paine

Tom Paine's house in Lewes

The inscription in gold lettering against a green background above the door and windows, reads as follows:

Bull House (circa 1450) – 1768-1774 In this house lived Thomas Paine, writer and revolutionary.

If you are not familiar with the name, Paine was born in Norfolk, and moved to Lewes before going to the American colonies, as they then were.

He wrote Common Sense in 1776 and The American Crisis in 1776-1783, both of which were highly influential pamphlets in the American Revolution, and helped inspire the declaration of independence from Great Britain.

As I Went Out One Morning

The song ‘As I Went Out One Morning‘ is from Bob Dylan’s album John Wesley Harding. When I listened to this song, even from the first time, I thought that the young woman to whom he is referring is the America that Tom Paine hoped for, but which in the ensuing years had become something else.

The song starts with the words – As I went out one morning
To breathe the air around Tom Paine, I spied the fairest damsel.
That ever did walk in chains

There are three verses, and this is the third and final verse:

Just then Tom Paine, himself
Came running from across the field
Shouting at this lovely girl
And commanding her to yield
And as she was letting go her grip
Up Tom Paine did run
“I’m sorry, sir,” he said to me
“I’m sorry for what she’s done”


  1. John says:

    Why would he leave England to come way over here? Sometimes I wish we hadn’t left our motherland.


    1. Interesting point of view. As far as I know, he may well have been arrested if he had stayed in England. And he thought the future was in the United States. I know some people think the States are going through a terrible time now, and wonder if it will ever recover. I have faith that the country can pull itself back from the brink.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. John says:

        I hope the country can rebound, but these Democraps and Libtards as I call them continue to elect incompetent jerks like Biden. He should be in an old folks home.

        That, the race issue and so much more. My 94 year old father agreed with me that this country has seen her best days.

        Sorry, I don’t want to sound so negative but this is what I see today, and I am 61 years old. Been around a spell…


  2. Joan E. Miller says:

    Hurrah for Tom Paine! I have his book, and never got through it. I’ll give it another try. Dylan’s lyrics are cryptic as ever.

    Liked by 1 person

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