Bonny Light Horseman
Version 2
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


Information
Lyrics
Sam Henry believed the tune is probably over 400 years old and is of Irish origin because it used the old Irish gapped scale (which did not use the 4th and 7th notes of the modern scale). According to William Barrett the song appeared frequently in England after 1790 on broadsides printed in London, Birmingham and Preston. There are several variants of the tune.

The song, also known as Broken-Hearted I Wander, had widespread popularity during the Napoleonic Wars. The lyrics that refer to the Napoleonic War can be found at The Bonny Light Horseman (1).

Ye maids, wives, and widows, I pray give attention,
Unto these few lines, tho' dismal to mention
I'm a maiden distracted, in the desert I'll rove,
To the gods I'll complain for the loss, of my love.
Broken-hearted I'll wander, broken-hearted I'll wander,
My bonny light horseman that was slain in the wars.


Had I wings of an eagle so quickly I'd fly,
To the very spot where my true love did die;
On his grave would I flutter my out-stretched wings,
And kiss his cold lips o'er and o'er again.
Broken-hearted I'll wander, broken-hearted I'll wander,
My bonny light horseman that was slain in the wars.


Two years and two months since he left England's shore,
My bonny light horseman that I did adore,
O why was I born this sad day to see,
When the drum beat to arms and did force him from me.
Broken-hearted I'll wander, broken-hearted I'll wander,
My bonny light horseman that was slain in the wars.


Not a lord, duke, or earl, could my love exceed,
Not a more finer youth for his king e'er did bleed;
When mounted on a horse he so gay did appear,
And by all his regiment respected he were.
Broken-hearted I'll wander, broken-hearted I'll wander,
My bonny light horseman that was slain in the wars.


Like the dove that does mourn when it loseth its mate,
Will I for my love till I die for his sake;
No man on this earth my affection shall gain,
A maid live and die for my love that was slain.
Broken-hearted I'll wander, broken-hearted I'll wander,
My bonny light horseman that was slain in the wars.


Related Links
Music and Lyrics from English Folk Songs
Information from Sam Henry's Songs of the People
See Bibliography for full information.