There's a ship lies rigged and ready in the harbor
Tomorrow for old England she sails
Far away from your land of endless sunshine
To my land full of rainy skies and gales
And I shall be aboard that ship tomorrow
Though my heart is full of tears at this farewell

For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell

I heard there's a wicked war a-blazing
And the taste of war I know so very well
Even now I see the foreign flag a-raising
Their guns on fire as we sail into Hell
I have no fear of death, it brings no sorrow
But how bitter will be this last farewell

For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell

Though death and darkness gather all about me
And my ship be torn apart upon the seas
I shall smell again the fragrance of these islands
In the heaving waves that brought me once to thee
And should I return home safe again to England
I shall watch the English mist roll through the dale

For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell


Lyrics submitted by dmg18

The Last Farewell Lyrics as written by Ronald Arthur Webster Roger Whittaker

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Last Farewell song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +2
    My Interpretation

    Have listened to this song many times. In some earlier times; WWII, maybe the 1800"s the writer may refer to being in the Philippines or in that general area. He may not be refering to a woman that is beautiful but the islands themselves.
    50 years ago I was stationed in Taiwan and Okinawa for 4 years. Okinawa is a great island to spend time on, but not "beautiful" like Taiwan. Taiwan was named Formosa by the Portuguise which means Beautiful Island. My wife is from Taiwan and she is beautiful also, so to me Roger could have been singing about a woman or an island. He sings about death and dying, we didnt have to go through that. I mention the Philippines because he sings of "foreign flag a-rising" , sounds like the invasion by the Japanese of that whole area.

    raenmanon January 21, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    To add to raenman's comment, the singer is leaving the Philippines (per original poem) to return to England (first verse) to fight the French ("rigged sails" so pre WWI, but after the war against Spain- probably the Napoleonic wars around 1800) in a sea battle (third verse).

    It is not clear whether he is talking about leaving a woman or the islands, but I am a romantic and will assume it is a woman ("more dearly than the spoken word can tell" is too extreme to be just about leaving a place).

    Sadly, he does not intend to return. It is his last farewell.

    Windsurferon April 18, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    He was british and when they had all their colonies way back a lot of them never got back to England much. He fell in love and he is telling her this before he leaves he know's even if he survives the battles he has to go back to England

    pirate87on February 04, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    I\'d always just assumed that the narrator was singing to a woman, and I kind of put this song in the same category in my mind with other doomed tales of romance involving naval officers of the 19th/20th centuries such as South Pacific and Madame Butterfly. Although I never really thought about why this particular sailor isn\'t ever planning to return to the islands and the woman he loves, he makes it pretty clear that even if he does survive the anticipated battles, he won\'t be coming back. I guess there\'s really only one reason that makes sense: family obligations. Either he is already married -- and he would hardly be the first person separated from his family for an indefinite period of time who decided to seek comfort closer at hand -- or else once he returns, his family will pressure him into remaining at home and marrying Sally With the Huge Tracts of Land. If the singer were truly unencumbered, I feel that he\'d somehow manage to find a way back to the woman and the islands he loves. I don\'t see him as forsaking her or the unnamed but presumably tropial paradise all for love of the Yorkshire Dales, but rather, I see him gazing out upon the latter and wishing with all his heart that he were back on the islands. He is, or will be, regretful but resigned to the fact that his obligations prevent that from ever happening again.\n\nIs this guy as I envision him somewhat of a cad for a) cheating on one woman while b) perhaps leading on a second woman? In his situation, i wouldn\'t presume to judge him -- and if it makes any difference, which it probably shouldn\'t, I\'m female and was once married to someone in the military. (And yeah, it didn\'t work out, but I hold no grudges.) Love doesn\'t always lend itself to happily ever afters, even more so, one imagines, in an age where marriages may have been made more for convenience than love. (I always thought that this song was set in the Napoleonic era.) Whatever the narrator may be, though, at least he\'s not like Lieutenant Stinkerton from Madame Butterfly, a "man" who had the nerve to return to the Port of Nagasaki with his western wife in tow, thus breaking Butterfly\'s heart and causing her to end her own life. Him I will judge, since he outright lied and was a coward, to boot. The Last Farewell narrator, however, is telling the truth -- perhaps not the whole truth, and undoubtedly in this day and age the woman he\'s leaving would want more of an explanation than "I can\'t ever come back because ... I just can\'t," but at least he\'s not making false promises.

    volpinettaon April 06, 2022   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This is beautiful. It's being sung to the country he loves as he sails off to defend it. Very moving, especially given the events going on in the world right now.

    falln_angelon May 02, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I know that the song is about leaving a country you love dearly to fight a war, but my (now ex-) boyfriend sand this to me the last time I saw him, after we had broken up, and it broke my heart. So I understand the whole song is about a country, but it has another special meaning to me, too.

    Pinkaton June 04, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Actually, if you read the lyrics, the song is about two countries..... the one he is visiting, and the one he is from...... loves them both. Seems to be talking about a tropical island.

    quickmikeon September 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    quickmike is correct. Although the song can be interpreted patrotically, since he is doing what he sees as his duty, he obviously does not want to return and leave the object of his love, whoever that may be.

    DJacques75on May 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    The song can also be regarded as an allegory of life's difficult journey and, as the title suggests, the singer is saying a meaningful goodbye to his loved ones for the last time. The "wicked war" is the battle between good and evil. "Country" can be taken to mean Heaven as Shakespeare's description in "the undiscovered country" in Hamlet. Even though he may die without fear, his soul will again return to "smell the fragrance of these islands". A lovely song.

    asupergavon February 20, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation

    I heard on the radio years ago the song the last farewell was written about Captain Mathew Flinders , when you read about him on Wiki it makes sense. ..

    Ulti682on October 20, 2015   Link

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