The Bonny Light Horseman


Oh Napolean Bonaparte, You’re the cause of my woe
Since my bonny light horseman to the wars he did go
Broken hearted I wander, broken hearted I remain
Since my bonny light horseman in the wars he was slain

When Bonny commanded his armies to stand
And proudly to his banners all gaily and grand
He leveled his cannons right over the plain
Andy my bonny lgith horseman in the wars he was slain

And if I was a small bird and had wings and could fly
I would fly over the salt sea where my true love does lie
Three years and six months now since he left this bright shore
Oh my bonny light horseman, will I ere see you more

The dove she laments for her mate as she flies;
“Oh where, tell me where is my true love? ” she sighs
And where in this world is there one to compare
With my bonny light horseman who was killed in the war?”


The Bonny Light Horseman / Broken-Hearted I Wander [ Roud 1185 ; G/D 8:1584 ; Ballad Index HHH122a ; Full English FK/16/125/1 , FK/17/326/2 ; trad.]

The Bonny Light Horseman is a lament from the Napoleonic Wars.

A song from the days of Waterloo. Numerous broadside printers issued it. Some versions include verses relating to Napoleon Bonaparte—see, for example, the version in Terry Moylan’s The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition 1776-1815 (Dublin, 2000, p. 139).

Sam Henry noted the tune is probably over four hundred years old and is of Irish origin because it used the old Irish gapped scale (which did not use the fourth and seventh notes of the modern scale). Sam Henry, Songs of the People, No. 122.

Planxty recorded Bonny Light Horseman in 1979 for their album After the Break.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s