The Dying Soldier Boy (MacEdward Leach)

The sun was fast declining
Down evening's valley shade,
Where lie the dead and dying
At the close of once a day;
The saddest sight that ever I saw
When on the fields of gore,
Was a young and handsome Irish lad
Who's straight from Erin's shore.

His cheeks were like the roses red
And his hair like threads of gold,
And they laid him down to slumber
Where the Indian waters flowed;
His brother raised him in his arms
Tears down his cheeks did flow,
Saying, brother, dearest, brother,
It is hard to see you go.

Have you no kindly message to send
To the ones that you like dear,
To that young and handsome Irish girl
That dwells on Erin fair?
He cried give me some water,
Then listen to what I'll say,
For tomorrow you'll go marching
Back to old Erin far away.

Tell my mother that I thought on her
In the thickest of the fray,
When bullets were falling 'round
I never forgot to pray;
Tell my father that I bravely fought
With my face turned to the foe,
I never thought on turning back,
Straight onward I did go.

Till a German soldier shot me down
And left me in my gore.
I long to see old Erin fair,
That bright and happy shore;
There is one more request, dear brother,
Take to that girl across the way,
To pick a bunch of shamrocks green
And to place them on my grave.

Tell her it was my last request
Ere I lay down to die,
Kiss me, brother, once again,
Kiss me and then good-bye;
His brother raised him in his arms
Saying, thy will it shall be done,
And they laid him down to slumber
As the battle it was won.

They dug for him a narrow grave
And marked it well with care,
Then they started out on their lonely march
Back to old Erin fair.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a British broadside ballad, Erin Far Away, [Laws J6] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957) ....####

Sung by Alphonsus (Alphonse) J Sutton [1908-1998] of Trepassey, 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 World War I song that was written in Newfoundland.

A variant was also collected by Helen Creighton (1899-1989) and published as #71, Erin Far Away, in Songs And Ballads From Nova Scotia (Dent, 1932; Dover, 1936).


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