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Lyr Add: The Deserter (trad. Newfoundland)


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GUEST,Q 12 Feb 03 - 10:03 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: When the Battle it was Won-The Deserter
Date: 12 Feb 03 - 10:03 PM

This American song has two versions. In one, in the DT as "When the Battle Was Won," ends with the soldier taken prisoner. It was collected in Nova Scotia by Mackenzie and Creighton. The other, called "The Deserter," collected in Newfoundland by Kenneth Peacock, continues with "Willie" being shot, and the officer who executed him courting "Mary," his true-love. Mary shoots and kills the officer. The MIDI in the DT is from the music of the Nfld. version. Here is the extended Nfld. song, collected from Mrs. Thomas Walters in 1958.

Lyr. Add: THE DESERTER (American)

You tender-hearted parents wherever that you be,
I hope you'll pay attention and listen unto me;
It's of an agéd couple who had one only son,
He was shot as a deserter when the battle it was won.

He was both tall and handsome, his complexion it was fair,
His eyes were of the deepest blue and dark brown was his hair,
And as he gazed upon the crowd he gave one heavy sigh,
"If it was not for my father I would not care to die."

About a three weeks after as I stood in the field
A letter came into my hand and deep black was the seal;
I quickly tore it open, those words did meet my eye:
"Come home, come home, dear Willie, once more before I die."

Oh who could slight a dying wish from such a mother dear?
Before the dawning of the day my mother I stood near;
She pressed me to her sobbing heart, those words she said with joy,
"You're welcome home dear Willie, my own, my soldier-boy."

I scarce had time to press her lips when a heavy foot drew near,
I turned myself around and an officer appeared.
He said, "You cowardly rascal who from the field did run,
You will be shot as a deserter when the battle it is won."

I pointed to the bed-side, "Be careful what you say,
My mother she is dying and on her death-bed do lay;
I don't care if you shoot me, I from her will not go
Until she do recover or to her grave do go."

He sent his men around me and took me right away
Before I could defend myself or have one word to say;
They sent me to the guard-house where many had gone before,
And my poor dying mother I never saw no more.

The officer that brought me here he swore away my life,
He thinks he will gain Mary, she's going to be my wife;
He thinks he will gain Mary, that girl whom I adore,
But to her true-love soldier she proved faithfuller than before.

About a two days after an officer appeared,
"Come shoot this cowardly rascal, no more of this I'll hear."
He fired and shot young Willie, a bullet pierced his heart,
And from his true-love Mary on earth they had to part.

The officer a-courting unto Mary he did go,
Which proved his sad misfortune and earthly overthrow;
She said, "You shot my Willie and death shall be your bride."
She fired and shot the officer, he fell dead at her side.

Kenneth Peacock, 1965, Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, vol. 3, pp. 994-995, with music ("moderate free time"). MIDI in the DT for "When the Battle It Was Won." Maine version not seen.
@war @desertion @tearjerker

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