The Soldier's Return
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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The melody is The Mill, O!, to which Robert Burns wrote these words in 1793.

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When wild war's deadly blast was blown,
And my gentle peace returning,
Wi' mony a sweet babe fatherless,
And mony a widow mourning:
I left the lines and tented field,
Where lang I'd been a lodger;
My humble knapsack a' my wealth,
A poor and honest sodger.

A lead light heart beat in my breast,
My hands unstain'd wi' plunder;
For fair Scotia hame again,
I cheery on did wander.
I thought upon the banks o' Coil,
I thought upon my Nancy;
I thought upon the witching smile,
That caught my youthful fancy.

At length I reach'd the bonnie glen,
Where early life I sported;
I pass'd the mill and trysting thorn,
Where Nancy aft I courted.
Wha spied I but my ain dear maid,
Down by her mother's dwelling?
And turn'd me round to hide the flood
That in my e'e was swelling.

Wi' alter'd voice, quoth I, Sweet Lass,
Sweet as yon hawthorn's blossom,
O! happy, happy may he be,
That's dearest to thy bosom!
My purse is light, I've far to gang,
And fain wad be thy lodger,
I've served my king and country lang:
Tak' pity on a sodger.

Sae wistfully she gazed on me,
And lovelier was than ever;
Quote she, A sodger ance I lo'ed,
Forget him shall I never.
Our humble cot and hamely fare,
Ye freely shall partake o't;
That gallant badge, the dear cockade,
Ye're welcome for the sake o't.

She gazed - she redden'd like a rose -
Syne pale as ony lily;
She sank within my arms and cried,
Art thou my ain dear Willie?
By Him, who made yon son and sky,
By whom true love's regarded,
I am the man! and thus may still
True lovers be rewarded.

The wars are o'er, and I'm come hame,
And find thee still true-hearted;
Though poor in gear, we're rich in love,
And mair we'se ne'er be parted.
Quoth she, My grandsire left me gowd
A mailin' plenish'd fairly;
Then come, my faithful sodger lad,
Thou'rt welcome to it dearly!

For gold the merchant ploughs the main
The farmer ploughs the manor;
But glory is the sodger's prize,
The sodger's wealth is honour.
The brave poor sodger ne'er despise,
Nor count him as a stranger:
Remember he's his country's stay,
In day and hour o' danger.
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