MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Madam I Am a Soldier

Mrs. T. Ghaney NFLD 2 Tape 14A Track 4
Fermeuse Audio:
Ballad

Oh madam I am a soldier my speech is rough and plain
And I am not used to writing but I hate to cause you pain
I promised him that I would write and I thought it might be so
Since it comes from one that loves him I’m sure twill heal the blow

The morning of the battle fast the shot and shell
I was standing close beside him l saw him when he fell
I gently raised him in my arms l placed him on the grass
It was going against their orders but I guess they let it pass

It was a dreadful mini-ball (?) that struck him in the side
I didn't think it fatal till the night before he died
And when he knew he had to go he called me to his bed
Saying comrade don't you forget to write when l am dead

Here underneath my pillow is a lock of golden hair
The name is on the paper send it in my mother' s care
And tell them how l spoke of all and wished them all good-bye
And next I prayed for grace of God in all my affairs gone by

Last night l wished so much to live I was too young to go
Last week l passed my last birthday I was on eighteen years you know
I have sent you Willie’s hymnbook and a lock I cut from his curly hair

I kept the belt he used to do he told me so to do
There is a hole into his side just where the ball went through
And l think l have done his bidding I got nothing more to do
But while I live l will always mourn for the boy who wore the blue


Notes


Text: A solider writes a letter to the mother of a dead comrade, Willie. He writes that her 18 year old son was killed by a mini bullet in his side. Willie asked him to send a letter, a hymn book and a lock of his curly golden hair. The solider keeps Willie’s belt upon request and will mourn him until his own death.

Tune: The text is through composed and the melody repeats with each verse. The last word is spoken. Speaking, instead of singing a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song. The meter is 2/2. There is no clear melody as the singer uses a speaking like singing voice. A major tune based around D.

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