There are poets who have used the words “Over the Hills and far away.” It first appears in print in 1670 when some plaid or material is being blown over the hills and far away.
In Leslie Nelson-Burns song, referred in John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera the singer wants their girlfriend to stray over the hills and far away. In The Recruiting Officer there is another song, also known as the Jockey’s Lamentation, the army enlist and march over the hills and far away. There’s a more modern version of this song, sung by John Tams. It featured in Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe.
A poem by Eugene Field may also be referring to this song-when a boy dreams of the victories he will have over the hill and far away. William Phelps refers to something else dragging you over the hills and far away. William Henley is much more clear-over the hills and far away means death, where we all go one day.
Edward Thomas links to the song above in his poem “The Gypsy” where the Gypsy plays on a mouth organ “Over the hills and far away.”
Of course the most famous poem now is Tom the Piper’s son where the only tune he could play was “Over the Hills and far away”. We have forgotten now that it is a name of a song. It’s also mentioned about the five ducks who went swimming over the hills-despite the physical impossibility of this.
Whatever the words mean, a simple quote of old song, a cry to join up, or telling of change or death, they are beautiful words, so let’s just leave with those…
Over the hills and far away…