The Dying Soldier (MacEdward Leach)
(Blood-Stained Soil)

A youth lay on the battlefied
of France's blood-stained soil,
The seal of death was placed on his face,
he wore a happy smile;
The Red Cross nurse beside him
stood to wipe the dying dew
From off his brow with gentle hand,
for his heart was kind and true;
He said, send this when I am dead,
this letter in my hand,
Which bears my dying love
for all I love in old Newfoundland.

Then should you meet my mother,
you break gently in her ear,
About how I fell in battle,
fighting with no thought of fear;
You'll give to her this little book
and the bible she gave me,
The day she kissed me when I left
St John's to cross the sea;
Tell her how bravely we had fought,
though small was our brave band,
And all our thoughts that day went out
to dear old Newfoundland.

Tell her I never had forgot
her sweet face day and night,
And in my dreams she used to come
just like an angel bright;
She hovers o'er me in the trench,
and when her voice would storm
The rocky heights against German horns,
I often saw her form;
I clasped her photo to my heart
when first I took the stand,
And I know that she will weep for me
in dear old Newfoundland.

The Red Cross nurse attended
as the soldier's voice grew weak,
And the rosy hue of manhood
was fast fading from his cheek;
His eyes had lost their brightness,
and more closer grew his lips,
She gently took the waterglass
and tended him some sips;
Once more he opened his eyes
and clasped her snow white hand,
A sister dear, send her my love
to dear old Newfoundland.

She promised him to send it to
that dear land of his birth,
The place she knew in childhood
which he loved the best on earth;
And as he gazed upon her then,
he whispered very low,
There's another thing that I
would like to say before I go;
My thoughts on her have ever been
since last I left the strand
For to face the foe at Rimy's Ridge
and to bless old Newfoundland.

She was my little sweetheart,
and my death will cause her pain,
Oh, Sister, dear, send her my love
for we'll never meet again;
It was often that we rambled
down by Rennies River Side,
On O'Brien's Ridge, one day she said
that she would be my bride;
But the Father had willed it not to be,
and I had to fight the foe,
And now my bones on France's soil
forever must lie low.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland ballad ....####

Sung in 1950 by Monica Rossiter [1913-2004] of Cape Broyle, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

MacEdward Leach also collected a variant published as #86, Blood-Stained Soil, in Folk Ballads And Songs Of The Lower Labrador Coast by the National Museum of Canada (Ottawa, 1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved, and noted that according to the singer this is a First World War song that was written in Newfoundland.

A variant was also published in Gerald S Doyle's Old-Time Songs And Poetry Of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers (Third edition, pp.65-66, 1955).


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