MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Performed by Mary Dunphy Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 2 Track 3
Community: <Tors Cove Audio:
Genre: Ballad / battle Laws N31


A lady fair being walking a soldier she espied
The wringing of her lily-white hands in anguish while she cried
"Oh friend I fear my Willie is slain at lonely Waterloo!"

"What colour of clothes did your Willie wear?" the soldier did reply
"He wore a highland bonnet with a feather standing high
With a glittering sword down by his side o'er his dark suit of blue
These were the clothes my Willie wore at lonely Waterloo."

"If these were the clothes your Willie wore I saw his dying day
A Spanish sword pierced his tender heart before he down did lay
I took your true love by the hand to … some Frenchman did him slew
It was I who closed your Willie's eyes at lonely Waterloo."

"Oh Willie, dearest Willie," and she could say no more
She fell into the soldier's arms with …awful tidings o'er
"If the jaws of death would open and swallow me down through
Since my Willie's a mouldering corpse at lonely Waterloo

If I were an eagle or had I wings to fly
I would fly to lonely Waterloo where my true love would lie
I would fly all on his bosom my sorrows I'd renew
And I'd kiss my darling's pale cold lips at lonely Waterloo."


Sources: cf. Laws J12 (the narrative differs from that of Mrs. Dunphy); Mercer 192, Greenleaf 165, Peacock 1020-22; Roud 1922.

History:   The song title relates to the battle of 1815 between Napoleon and Wellington and was probably made up shortly after that date. Since the Napoleonic wars brought a large number of Irish Roman Catholic immigrants to Newfoundland, more than doubling the population, songs of the Napoleonic period were of particular relevance there.

Text notes: A soldier returns the clothes of his slain comrade, Willie, to Willie's girlfriend.

Tune notes: Peacock collected two different tunes from Newfoundland singers in the 1960s. This one, which has an a a a a' form, resembles the first line of the melody that Peacock labels "A." It seems as if the singer has simplified the tune, singing each phrase of text to the same melody.  

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