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Soldier, Soldier

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy]

Soldier, Soldier is a poem from Rudyard Kipling's book Barrack-Room Ballads. Peter Bellamy sang it on his third album of songs set to Kipling's poems, Peter Bellamy Sings the Barrack-Room Ballads of Rudyard Kipling. He commented in the album's sleeve notes:

This moving piece is as faithful an imitation of traditional English song as any poet could conceivably produce. The tune is an attempt to match that achievement.

Peter Bellamy and Maggie Boyle sang Soldier, Soldier in 1990 on his privately issued cassette Soldiers Three. This track was also included on his Free Reed anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes.

The Witches of Elswick sang Soldier, Soldier in 2001 on their first CD, Out of Bed. They commented in their liner notes:

Stark images of war by Kipling put to music by Bellamy as part of his Widow's Uniform folk opera. You have to pretend Bry[ony Griffith]'s a bloke in this one, luckily that's not difficult.

Sound Tradition sang Soldier, Soldier in 2014 on their CD Blackbird. They commented in their liner notes:

This is a poem from Kipling's book Barrack-Room Ballads. […] This version is taken from a re-recording of the song in 1990 sung by Peter [Bellamy] and Maggie Boyle.

Harp and a Monkey sang Soldier, Soldier on their 2016 album War Stories. They noted:

A song based around a poem by Rudyard Kipling from a collection known as The Barrack-Room Ballads, it was first put to music in the 1970s by Peter Bellamy. Although the poem predates WW1, Kipling’s works were popular with the servicemen of that conflict—not least as he had a keen understanding of the black humour of the ‘Tommy’. This poem is a good example of that: a lover seeking news of her man is initially treated sympathetically by one of his comrades, who soon loses patience with her and ends up becoming quite blunt about the man’s fate; before deciding his questioner is actually quite attractive and suggesting that he might take the place of her deceased.

Lyrics

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
Why don't you march with my true love?”
“We're fresh from off the ship an' 'e's maybe give the slip,
An' you'd best go look for a new love.”

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
New love! True love!
Best go look for a new love,
The dead they cannot rise, an' you'd better dry your eyes,
An' you'd best go look for a new love.

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
What did you see o' my true love?”
“I seed 'im serve the Queen in a suit o' rifle-green,
An' you'd best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
Did ye see no more o' my true love?”
“I seed 'im runnin' by when the shots begun to fly—
An' you'd best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
Did aught take 'arm to my true love?”
“Well I couldn't see the fight, for the smoke it lay so white—
An' you'd best go look for a new love.”

“O soldier, soldier come from the wars,
I'll up an' tend to my true love!”
“'E's lying on the dead with a bullet through 'is 'ead,
An' you'd best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
Then I'll down an' die with my true love!”
“The pit we dug'll 'ide 'im an' the twenty men beside 'im—
An' you'd best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
Do you bring no sign from my true love?”
“I brung a lock of 'air that 'e allus used to wear,
An' you'd best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
O then I know it's true I've lost my true love!”
“An' I tell you truth again—when you've lost the feel o' pain
You'd best take me for your true love.”

Chorus:
True love! New love!
Best take 'im for a new love,
The dead they cannot rise, an' you'd better dry your eyes,
An' you'd best take 'im for your true love.