The Wounded Hussar

One of the great songs in the Irish tradition. A big song in only three verses. It commemorates the scores of Irish soldiers who have died in the service of other countries, particularly in the French army. According to one mudcast.org poster,

The tune is thought to be a variant of “An Caiptín Ó Catháin” composed by Toirbheallach Ó Cearbhalláin [Turlach O’Carolan] and the words are thought to have been composed by the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell.

I got the following version of the words from Frank Harte.I completely adore Niamh Parsons version, and here she is singing it live in the Basque country.

The Wounded Hussar

Alone to the banks of the dark rolling Danube,
Fair Adelaide roamed when the battle was o’er.
“Oh where then” she cried, “have you wandered my true love?
Or where do you wither and bleed on the shore?”
She travelled a while the tears her eyes flooding,
Through the dead and the dying she walked near and far,
Till she found by the river all bleeding and dying,
By the light of the moon her poor wounded hussar.

From his bosom that heaved, the last torrent was streaming,
And pale was his visage deep marked with a scar,
And dimmed were the eyes once expressively beaming,
That had melted in love or had kindled in war.
How sad was poor Adelaide’s heart at the sight,
how bitterly she wept for the victim of war.
“Have you come then” he cried, “this last sorrowful night for,
To cheer the lone heart of your wounded hussar?”

“Thou shalt live then” she cried, “heaven’s mercy relieving,
Each anguishing wound shall forbid me to mourn.”
“Oh no then” he cried, “for my life is fast fading,
And no light of the morn shall to Henry return.”
“Thou charmer of life ever tender and true,
Take my love to my babes that await me afar.”
Then his faltering tongue could scarce bid her adieu when,
He died in her arms, her poor wounded hussar.

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