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English Folk-Heritage
This is an English ballad that, according to some historians, tells the tale of a young man who’s off to the Marlburlian Wars i.e. 1670's to the very early 1700's, mostly fought in 'High Germany'. Back then men were often ‘press-ganged’ or pressed into the army which meant they could be legally kidnapped as they were walking down the street. Camp ’followers’, (wives and girlfriends) occasionally tagged along too. In this English song Willie tells Polly to get dressed and come with him to the war but she declines because she’s rather foot-weary and just a tiny bit pregnant.
Now, although thousands of folkies have studied and debated over this song ad nauseam – its date, its origins and the battles involved – they have entirely missed the point of the song. This song was not written by a military man at all but was presumably composed by an ordinary English woman who had lost her husband. It is simply a 300 year old English protest song, and it reminds us how wars that were often conducted simply to satisfy the greed of the British rich and powerful has destroyed English families and communities, and how centuries of young Englishmen being sent off as ‘cannon fodder’ has destroyed ethnic English continuity.

Lyrics

1. Oh Polly love, oh Polly the rout has now begun
And I must go a marching to the beating of the drum
Go dress yourself all in your best and come along with me
And I'll take you to the war me love in High Germany

2. Oh Willy love, oh Willy pray listen to what I say
My feet they are so tender, I can not march away
And besides my dearest Willy I am with child by thee
Not fitted for the war me love in High Germany

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

4. Oh cursed be the cruel wars that ever they did rise
And out of merry England went many a man likewise
They took my true love from me, likewise my brothers three
And pressed them to the wars me lads in High Germany

5. My friends I do not value and my foes I do not fear
For now my love has left me to wander far and near
And when my baby it is born and smiling on my knee
I'll think of handsome Willy in High Germany

6. Oh Polly love, oh Polly the rout has now begun
And I must go a marching to the beating of the drum
Go dress yourself all in your best and come along with me
And I'll take you to the wars me love in High Germany
High Germany

© PhilDrane Music 2016