Listen to the song

The Girl I Left Behind Me


Oh the maids of France are fair and free
and Flemish lips are willing 
and soft the maids of Italy
and Spanish eyes are thrilling
Though I bask beneath their smiles
their charms fail to bind me
and my heart flies back to Erin's isle
to the girl I left behind me

For she's as fair as Shannon's side
and purer than the water 
but she refused to be my bride
though manys the year I sought her
Yet since to France I've sailed away
(or how about)
(Yet since I've sailed to Ameri - Kay)
her letters oft remind me
That I promised never to gainsay
the girl I left behind me

The hour was sad I left the maid
A lingering farewell taking
Her sighs and tears my steps delayed
I thought her heart was breaking
In hurried words her name I blessed, 
I breathed the vows that bind me
and to my heart in anguish pressed
the girl I left behind me

I'm lone-some since I cross'd the hill, 
And o'er the moor and valley; 
Such heavey tho'ts my heart do fill, 
Since parting with my Sally.
I seek no more the fine and gay, 
For each does but remind me.
How swift the hours did pass away , 
With the girl I've left behind me 

Oh, ne'er shall I forget the night, 
The stars were bright above me, 
And gently lent their silv'ry light, 
When first she vow'd she loved me.
But now I'm bound to Brighton camp, 
Kind heaven, may favor find me.
And send me safely back again 
To the girl I left behind me.

Had I the art to sing her praise
With all the skill of Homer,
The only theme should fill my lays -
The charms of my true lover.
So let the night be e'er so dark,
Or e'er so wet and windy
Kind heaven send me back again
To the girl I've left behind me.

Her golden hair, in ringlets fair,
Her eyes like diamonds shining,
Her slender waist, with carriage chaste,
May leave the swan repining.
Ye gods above! oh, hear my prayer,
To my beauteous fair to bind me,
And send me safely back again
To the girl I've left behind me.

The bee shall honey taste no more,
The dove become a ranger,
The falling waves may cease to roar,
Ere I shall seek to change her.
The vows we register'd above
Shall ever cheer and bind me
In constancy to her I love, -
The girl I've left behind me.

My mind her form shall still retain
in sleeping or in waking
Until I see my love again
for whom my heart is breaking
If ever I should see the day 
When Mars shall have resigned me
For ever more I'll gladly stay
With the girl I left behind me.

Then to the South we bore away
to win a name in story.
And there where dawns the sun of day
there dawned our sun of glory.
Both blazed at noon on freedoms height
where in the post assigned me.
I shared the glory of that fight
sweet girl I left behind me.

Full many a name our banners bore
of former deeds of daring
But they were days of 76 
In which we had no sharing
But now our laurels freshly won
with the old ones shall entwined be
Still worthy of our sires and sons
sweet girl I left behind me.

She says my darling dear come home
my friends are rich and many
or failing that with you I'll roam
a soldier stout as any
But if you'll not come nor let me go
I'll fear you have resigned me
my heart near broke when I sent back NO
to the girl I left behind me

For never shall my true love brave
a life or war and toiling
and never as a skulking slave
I'll tread my native soil on
But were she free or to be freed
the battles close would find me
to Erin bound nor message need
from the girl I left behind me.

The hope of final victory
within my bosom burning.
Is mingling with sweet thoughts of thee
and of my fond returning
but should I ne're return again
Still worth thy love that bind me
dishonors breath shall never stain
the name I'll leave behind me.



(Note)
As you can tell by the number of verses
THIS is a popular song amongst English speaking 
soldiers from the channel shore of Great Britain to the Western Coast of the North American 
Continent.

The Irish were reputed to have originated the song, back in the late sixteen hundreds when the 
Irish army under Patrick Saarsfeld sailed out of Ireland (and into history) after the treaty of 
Limerick and served as mercenaries for various European armies. (The Irish Brigade of the 
Union army was yet another in a long history of them in European armies...) Given the numbers of Irish troops in the army of the English kings and queens, it was inevitable that this song should become part of the British military repertoire (even though it's origins were decidedly ANTI-British).

The Americans were reputed to have "acquired" the "rights" to it by virtue of the American defeat 
of the Crown forces at the Battle of New Orleans at the close of the end of the war of 1812 
(actually AFTER the treaty was signed and the war was over.....)

(How many of you remember this song...."Well, they ran through the briars, and they ran through the brambles, and they ran through the places where the rabbits wouldn't go. They ran so fast the hounds couldn't catch em down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico...")

They supposedly captured a royal officer, who was either Irish or fond of the song (or both...) 
which by then had become the British song "Brighton camp". It is interesting to note that it 
was still a staple of the British military inventory during the Crimean war (1850's), for several of 
the verses, which the Americans subsequently modified for the War Between The States, referred directly to the battles fought in the east, and particularly the battle of Alma, which was the opening battle of the Crimean war.

("Both blazed in noon on Alma's height, where in the post assigned me I shared the glory of that fight
Sweet girl I left behind me....")

However, I suspect that one could make the argument, given the Heritage of the American army (once part of the very same British army....) and given the number of Irishman that were in the small American army after it's official creation, that the song would have gotten there all by itself, without being won from the British. 

 

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