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This traditional song, popular with UK folk acts in the 1960s, was first published as "The Banks of the Riverine" in 1894 and may be about the Battle of Khartoum in 1884. It portrays lovers separated by a military draft.

Sandy Denny closes Fotheringay's first album (in its original vinyl release) with a very slow and mournful performance of this song. The arrangement came from a parody version entitled "On The Banks Of The Condamine" from Trevor Lucas's 1966 album Overlander.

Other versions:


Oh hark! the drums do beat, my love
No longer can we stay
The bugle-horns are sounding clear
And we must march away.
We're ordered down to Portsmouth
And it's many is the weary mile
To join the British Army
On the banks of the Nile.

Oh Willie, dearest Willie
Don't leave me here to mourn
Don't make me curse and rue the day
That ever I was born
For the parting of our love would be
Like parting with my life
So stay at home, my dearest love
And I will be your wife.

Oh my Nancy, dearest Nancy
Sure that will never do
The Government has ordered
And we are bound to go
The government has ordered
And the Queen she gives command
And I am bound on oath, my love
To serve in a foreign land.

Oh, but I'll cut off my yellow hair
And I'll go along with you
I'll dress myself in uniform
And I'll see Egypt too
I'll march beneath your banner
While fortune it do smile
And we'll comfort one another
On the banks of the Nile.

But your waist it is too slender
And your fingers they are too small
In the sultry suns of Egypt
Your rosy cheeks would spoil
Where the cannons they do rattle
And the bullets they do fly
And the silver trumpets sound so loud
To hide the dismal cries.

Oh, cursed be those cruel wars
That ever they began
For they have robbed our country
Of manys the handsome man
They've robbed us of our sweethearts
While their bodies they feed the lions
On the dry and sandy deserts
Which are the banks of the Nile.

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