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Wild Rover

I've been a wild rover this many a year
And I've spent all my money on whisky and beer
But now I'm returning with gold in great store
And I never shall play the wild rover no more

No, no, never, never no more
Never never again shall I play
The wild rover no more

I dropped into a shanty I used to frequent
And I told the landlady my money was spent
I asked her for credit she answered me nay
Such a custom as yours I can get every day

Then I drew from my pocket ten sovereigns bright
And the landlady's eyes opened wide with delight
Said she I have whisky and wines of the best
And the words that I told you were only in jest

There was Kitty and Betsy and Margaret and Sue
And three or four more that belonged to our crew
We'd sit up till midnight and make the place roar
I've been the wild boy but I'll be so no more

So now I'm a prisoner to "Nugget" was sent
On a bed of cold straw to lie and lament
At last I have got what so long I looked for
I've been a wild boy but I'll be so no more

I'll go home to my parents confess what I've done
And I'll ask them to pardon their prodigal son
And if they will do so as often before
Then I never shall play the wild rover no more


Printed in Stewart and Keesing Old Bush Songs with the note: "From Dr Percy Jones's collection, with additional stanzas collected by Russel Ward from Mrs Byrnes. There is another version in Paterson's Old Bush Songs".

John Meredith collected versions of the song from Edwin Goodwin, a timber-cutter from the Nambucca River area in northern NSW, from fiddler and journalist Joe Cashmere, and from Collie Burke. Collie Burke learned the song from her father in Burragorang Valley, an area now submerged by the Warragamba Dam.

'Wild Rover' is well known in Ireland, Britain and North America. Nugget in the song is Newgate Gaol, the English prison.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory