“A Soldier's Life”


After an introduction from "The Sailor Boy," ("A soldier's life is a weary life, Robs young girls..."), the girl is given a letter about her lover, telling her that he is dying. She finds his grave, and says she will join him with joy when she dies

Supplemental text

Soldier's Life, A
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

A Soldier's Life
(Sweet William)

From John Harrington Cox, Folk-Songs Mainly From West Virginia
(published as the second part of George Herzog, Herbert Halpert,
George Boswell, editors, Traditional Ballads and Folk-Songs
Mainly from West Virginia), #11, pp. 145-146. From Jessie McCue,
Hookersville, November 10, 1925.

A soldier's life is a dreary life,
It robs poor girls of their hearts' delight,
It causes them to weep and mourn
For the loss of a soldier never to return.

I heard my father call my name,
Saying, "Here is a letter for my Jane."
And the very first words that came to my eye,
Was that my soldier boy was a-going to die.

I followed my soldier to the grave,
We laid him down with the true and the brave;
His battle o'er, he has gone to rest,
He calmly sleeps on his Savior's breast.

There is nothing in this world I love,
My hopes are placed on things above;
When God calls me, I'll go with joy,
And there clasp hands with my soldier boy.

(stanzas 1, 4, 6, 7 of 7)


This clearly opens with material from "The Sailor Boy" (with which Roud lumps it), but this breaks off into something else. The combination probably qualifies as a separate song. - RBW

Cross references


  1. JHCoxIIB, #11, pp. 145-146, "A Soldier's Life" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST CoxIIB11 (Partial)
  3. Roud #273
  4. BI, CoxIIB11


Author: unknown
Found in: US(Ap)