'Twas on one Whitsun Wednesday, the fourteenth day of May,
We untied our anchor, and so we sailed away,
Where the sun do shine most glorious, to Lisbon we are bound,.
Where the hills and fields are daintied with pretty maidens round.
I wrote a letter to Nancy, for she to understand
That I was going to leave her, unto some foreign land.
She said:"My dearest William, those words will break my heart;
Oh, let us married be tonight before that you do start."
"For ten long weeks and better, love, I've been with child by thee,
O stay at home, dear William; be kind and marry me."
"Our captain has commanded us and I shall have to go.
For the Queen's in want of men, my love, I dare not answer No."
"Oh, I'll cut off my yellow hair, men's clothing I'll put on,
And I will go along with you and be your waiting man,
And when it is your watch on deck, your duty I will do.
I'd face the field of battle, love, so I could be with you."
"Your pretty little fingers, they are both long and small.
Your waist it is too slender to face the cannon-ball.
For the cannons loud do rattle and the blazing bullets fly,
And the silver trumpets they do sound to drown the dismal cry."
"If I should meet a pretty girl that's proper tall and gay,
If I should take a fancy to her, Polly, what would you say ?
Would you not be offended ?" " Oh no my lover true
I'd stand aside, sweet Willianm, while she does pleasure you."
"Pray do not talk of danger, for love is my desire,
To see you in the battle and with you spend my time;
And I will travel through France and Spain all for to be your
And within the field of battle I will lay down by your side"
From Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, Williams and LLoyd
Collected from Mrs. Lock, Somerset, 1904
Note: another Cruel War/Banks of the Nile variant