The Bold Soldier
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

This ballad is also known as The Valiant Soldier. Henry Martin Belden in Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folklore Society (1940), notes it was printed on broadsides in the 19th century in England. He also traces the song to a 17th century broadside named in The Masterpiece of Love Songs (1887). That broadside was about a gamekeeper and a lord's daughter.

Burl Ives dates this to Colonial America. He writes, "During the colonial period, the English were fighting on land and sea against Portuguese, French, and Spanish. Professional soldiers going to or coming from the wars were known everywhere in England. Captain Miles Standish and Captain John Smith were typical soldiers of fortune."

The song was collected throughout the United States, including the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Michigan, Maine, North Carolina, Vermont, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, New Jersey, Illinois. It was also found in Nova Scotia.

Soldier, oh soldier,
A-coming from the plain
He courted a lady for honor and for fame
Her beauty shone so bright
That it never could be told
She always loved the soldier
Because he was so bold.
Fa la la la, fa la la la
Fa la la la, fa la la la

Soldier, oh soldier,
It's I would be your bride,
But I fear of my father
Some danger might betide.
Then he pulled out sword and pistol
And hung them by his side
Swore he would be married,
No matter what betide.
Fa la la la, fa la la la
Fa la la la, fa la la la

Then he took her to the parson,
And, of course, home again
There they met her father
And seven armed men.
Let us fly, said the lady,
I fear we shall be slain
Take my hand, said the soldier,
And never fear again.
Fa la la la, fa la la la
Fa la la la, fa la la la

Then he pulled out sword and pistol,
And caused them to rattle,
The lady held the horse
While the soldier fought in battle.
Hold your hand, said the old man,
Do not be so bold.
You shall have my daughter
And a thousand pounds of gold.
Fa la la la, fa la la la
Fa la la la, fa la la la

Fight on! said the lady,
The portion is too small!
Hold your hand, said the old man,
And you shall have it all.
Then he took them right straight home
And he called them son and dear
Not because he loved them,
But only through fear.
Fa la la la, fa la la la
Fa la la la, fa la la la

Related Links
From The Burl Ives Song Book and
American Ballads from British Broadsides and
Ozark Folk Songs
See Bibliography for full information.