'High Germany' is an old British folk song
, which refers to the Duke of Marlborough
's campaigns in Bavaria
, or High Germany
, where he fought the battle of Blenheim
. Although I can't confirm the following details, I believe that the song is from the period it alludes to, has more than one tune, and that there are several variations on the words, as well as later adaptations to other wars. It's designed as a duet for a soldier
and his wife. This is the version I learned at Primary School
, and other variations deal with the more likely realities
of a soldier's girlfriend.
He: Oh Polly, love, oh Polly, the rout has now begun,
And we must march away at the beating of the drum.
Go dress yourself in all your best, and come along with me;
I'll take you to the cruel wars in High Germany.
She: Oh Harry, love, oh Harry, now harken what I say:
My feet are all too tender, I cannot march away.
Besides, my dearest Harry, though man and wife we be,
How am I fit for cruel wars in High Germany?
He: A horse I'll buy you, dapple-grey, and on it you shall ride,
And all my heart's delight will be a-riding at my side.
We'll ride o'er moor and mountain, and breathe the air so free,
And jauntily we'll ride along in High Germany.
She: Oh cursèd be the cruel wars that ever they should rise
That out of merry England pressed many a lad likewise.
They pressed my Harry from me, and all my brothers three,
And took them to the cruel wars in High Germany.