Oh hark! the drums do beat, my love, no longer can we stay.
The bugle-horns are sounding clear, and we must march away.
We’re ordered down to Portsmouth, and it’s many is the weary mile.
To join the British Army on the banks of the Nile.
Oh Willie, dearest Willie, don’t leave me here to mourn,
Don’t make me curse and rue the day that ever I was born.
For the parting of our love would be like parting with my life.
So stay at home, my dearest love, and I will be your wife.
Oh my Nancy, dearest Nancy, sure that will never do.
The government has ordered, and we are bound to go.
The government has ordered, and the Queen she gives command.
And I am bound on oath, my love, to serve in a foreign land.
Oh, but I’ll cut off my yellow hair, and I’ll go along with you.
I’ll dress myself in uniform, and I’ll see Egypt too.
I’ll march beneath your banner while fortune it do smile,
And we’ll comfort one another on the banks of the Nile.
But your waist it is too slender, and your fingers they are too small.
In the sultry suns of Egypt your rosy cheeks would spoil.
Where the cannons they do rattle, when the bullets they do fly,
And the silver trumpets sound so loud to hide the dismal cries.
Oh, cursed be those cruel wars, that ever they began,
For they have robbed our country of manys the handsome men.
They’ve robbed us of our sweethearts while their bodies they feed the lions,
On the dry and sandy deserts which are the banks of the Nile.
Trad. Arr. Fotheringay