As sweet Polly Oliver lay musing in bed,
A sudden strange fancy came into her head;
"Nor father nor mother shall make me false prove!
I'll 'list for a soldier and follow my love!"
So early next morning she softly arose,
And dressed herself up in her dead brother's clothes;
She cut her hair close and she stained her face brown,
And went for a soldier to fair London Town.
Then up spake the sergeant one day at his drill:
"Now who's good at nursing? a captain lies ill!"
"I'm ready," says Polly; to nurse him she's gone,
And finds 'tis her true love all wasted and wan.
The first week the doctor kept shaking his head;
"No nursing, young fellow, can save him," he said,
But when Polly Oliver has nursed back his life,
He cried, "You have cherished as if you were his wife!"
On then Polly Oliver she burst into tears,
And told the good doctor her hopes and her fears;
And very soon after, for better for worse,
The Captain took joyfully his pretty soldier nurse!"
Singing Together, Spring 1975, BBC Publications
(Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six