High Germany
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


There are two tunes of this name. This version was a broadside ballad and appears in A Collection of Choice Garlands (circa 1780). The other version is alternately titled The True Lovers: or the King's command must be obeyed.

England was involved in several wars on the continent. In 1702 England and The Netherlands declared war on France and Spain. England's involvement in the War of Spanish Succession lasted until 1711. In 1718 Britain entered into the Quadruple Alliance with France, the Netherlands, and the Holy Roman Emperor in opposition to Philip V of Spain. In 1725 Great Britain was again involved with war on the continent. One source dates this to the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). The Seven Years' War was fought between a coalition of Austria, France, Russia, Sweden and Saxony and Prussia (led by Frederick the Great). England allied with Prussia. The American theater of the Seven Years' War is known as the French and Indian War.

O Polly dear, O Polly dear,
The rout has now begun
And we must march away
At the beating of the drum:
Go dress yourself all in your best
And come along with me,
I'll take you to the cruel wars
In High Germany.

O Harry, dear Harry,
You mind what I do say,
My feet they are so tender
I cannot march away,
And besides, my dearest Harry,
Although I'm in love with thee.
I am not fit for cruel wars
In High Germany.

I'll buy you a horse, my Love,
And on it you shall ride,
And all of my delight shall be
Riding by your side;
We'll call at ev'ry ale house,
And drink when we are dry,
So quickly on the road, my Love,
We'll marry by and by.

O cursed were the cruel wars
That ever they should rise
And out of merry England
Press many a lad likewise!
They press'd young Harry from me,
Likewise my brothers three,
And sent them to the cruel wars
In High Germany.
Related Links
From One Hundred English Folksongs
See Bibliography for full information.