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Little is known about this song, but the theme of a soldier going off to war is common enough. A Scottish version is ‘Farweel Lassie, I maun leave ye’ or ‘The Harvest Shearin’. Cecil Sharp found a Somerset version with the following words:
As William and Mary sat reposing Under the banks of primeroses Marching through the field of battle Where we heard the cannons rattle. Love Farewell
Now don’t you hear the colonel crying Drums a-beating, colours flying, Marching through the field of battle Where we heard the cannons rattle. Love Farewell
Now it’s every man in front make ready Every man behind be steady. Every man with a flask of powder With his firelock over his shoulder.
Now the mother cries ‘It’s do not rob me Never take my daughter from me For if I do I will torment you After death my ghost will haunt you.
Now it’s on the seas we must be rolling, From fair France and from fair Poland For to reign to reign victorious After death our names will be glorious.