lyrics text

High Germany

words & tune traditional

Oh Polly, dearest Polly, the war has now begun
And I must march away now to the beating of the drum
Come dress yourself all in your best and sail away with me
I'll take you to the wars my love in the High Germany

Oh Willy, lovely Willy, come list to what I say
My feet they are so tender, I cannot march away
Besides, my dearest Willy, I am with child to thee
Not fitted for the wars, my love, in the High Germany

I'll buy for you a horse, my love, and on it you shall ride
And my delight shall be riding along there by your side
We'll stop at every ale house, drink when we are dry
Be true to one another, get married by and by

It's when we get to Berwick town, I'll have for you a bed
Covered all in roses and the roses shall be red
So when your baby it is born, smiling on your knee
You'll think of lovely Willy in the High Germany

Oh cursed are the cruel wars that ever they should rise
And out of old Northumberland press many a lad likewise
They'll take your loving husband and all your brothers three
And send them to the cruel wars in the High Germany

Oh Polly, dearest Polly the war has now begun
And I must march away now to the beating of the drum
You must dress all in your finery and wave farewell to me
When I sail off unto the wars in the High Germany.

The only song here not to originate in the Border counties, though we've adapted it slightly to the local geography. Versions have been collected throughout Southern England; it seems to relate to the War of the Spanish Succession. The Press Gangs were very active along the Northumberland coast, as songs like Captain Bover and Here's The Tender Coming attest. The British Fleet was for a period berthed in Berwick.

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