The Girl I Left Behind Me
Version 2
Download Midi 1
Barry Taylor

Download Midi 2
John Renfro Davis


Much folklore has arisen regarding this tune. One source states the tune was popular as far back as Queen Elizabeth's (Elizabeth I) reign and was played whenever a regiment left town or a man-of-war set sail. Another theory is that the tune originated in 1758 when Admiral's Hawke and Rodney were watching the French fleet off the coast.*

Theodore Ralph (see citation below) writes that the tune was known in America as early as 1650 and indicates it was a traditional fife tune, imported from England as Brighten Camp. The tune became generally popular during the Revolution.

The tune was known in Ireland as The Rambling Laborer and The Spailpin Fanach and was first published in Dublin in 1791.

These words are from Songs of the Seventh Cavalry (see also Gary Owen) There is another version of lyrics at The Girl I Left Behind Me (1).

The tune was also used for lyrics to a drinking song, Waxie's Dargle.

There are several more versions at The Mudcat Cafe.

The hours sad I left a maid
A lingering farewell taking
Whose sighs and tears my steps delayed
I thought her heart was breaking
In hurried words her name I blest
I breathed the vows that bind me
And to my heart in anguish pressed
The girl I left behind me

Then to the east we bore away
To win a name in story
And there where dawns the sun of day
There dawned our sun of glory
The place in my sight
When in the host assigned me
I shared the glory of that fight
Sweet girl I left behind me

Though many a name our banner bore
Of former deeds of daring
But they were of the day of yore
In which we had no sharing
But now our laurels freshly won
With the old one shall entwine me
Singing worthy of our size each son
Sweet girl I left behind me

The hope of final victory
Within my bosom burning
Is mingling with sweet thoughts of thee
And of my fond returning
But should I n'eer return again
Still with thy love i'll bind me
Dishonors breath shall never stain
The name I leave behind me
Related Links
The American Song Treasury and
Best Loved Songs of The American People and
*Folk Songs of Old New England
See Bibliography for full information.