"Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" as written by and Colin Meloy....
Heart-carved tree trunk, Yankee bayonet
A sweetheart left behind
Far from the hills of the sea-swelled Carolinas
That's where my true love lies

Look for me when the sun-bright swallow
Sings upon the birch bough high
But you are in the ground with the voles and the weevils
All a'chew on your bones so dry

But when the sun breaks
To no more bulletin battle-cry
Then will you make a grave
For I will be home then

I will be home then
I will be home then
I will be home then

When I was a girl how the hills of Oconee
Made a seam to hem me in
There at the fair when our eyes caught, careless
Got my heart right pierced by a pin

But oh, did you see all the dead of Manassas
All the bellies and the bones and the bile
Though I lingered here with the blankets barren
And my own belly big with a child

But when the sun breaks
To no more bulletin battle-cry
Then will you make a grave
For I will be home then

I will be home then
I will be home then
I will be home then

Stems and bones and stone walls too
Could keep me from you
Scaly skin is all too few
To keep me from you

But oh, my love, though our bodies may be parted
Though our skin may not touch skin
Look for me with the sun-bright sparrow
I will come on the breath of the wind

Lyrics submitted by haruki, edited by tahare2000, wiscodisco

"Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" as written by Colin Meloy

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Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then) song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThe reason I transcribed this song (did a great deal of pecking about to find "Oconee" too) was because Manassas is where I grew up. It's cool when a band you love namedrops your hometown.
    harukion October 05, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentexcellent (:
    my favourite part is the last verse
    nicola234on August 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentproviding this song takes place during the American Civil War, I think the "stone walls" line might be a pun :D
    LittleUnicornBoyon January 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI was a soldier for a long time, Infantry, served in Iraq and Afghanistan. This song made me think about the men I knew who left their wives and loved one and never returned. Brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it and made me a instant fan of The Decemberist. (btw, the lyrics on here are wrong in a couple of places, ie voles, not wolves, Bulletin Battle-cry not bullets in battle creeks, he just sings poetically and scaly skin, not skeins.
    Some folks are trying to hard to "interpret" where the soldier is from. I will dispel all the myths right now. Keep in mind they are Artists(Colin and company) and part of enjoying this kind of artistic work is interpretation.
    First off clearly she is from South Carolina, Oconee County in the Mountains. Why and how would she be with a northerner? He did not fly in for weekends! Also they were attending the Fair together putting him there with her in South Carolina. He carved with a "Yankee Bayonet" maybe because it was a souvenir he took from the battlefield or the fact that the south did not have much production capacity and in fact used "Yankee" and British weapons. That is an interpretation thing, it is open to your interpretation. In fact maybe she carved it? Maybe the bayonet was left behind or was it the carving? not clear but some other things are clear.......
    For instance, modes of travel were slow at that time, yes Manasas is in Virginia south of Washington DC not to far by our standards today, but a long trip in those days. It is far away from her in South Carolina by the standards of the day.
    Third, he (the soldier in the song) Refers to the Battle as "Manasas" Southerners called it Manasas, Yankees called the battle "bull-run"
    Thus he has to be a Southerner.
    nottareallyon June 01, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this might be my favorite song on the new album.
    dnowikon August 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSuch a beautiful and amazing song. i love the new album
    CautionarySongon August 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is clearly the best song on the new album. Laura Veirs has such a good voice. It seems she has replaced Petra Haden
    Dvelon August 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentlove love love
    i cannot wait to see them in october!
    farewell2RMSon September 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat album, but what's with the over-use(in my opinion) of the word "grave?" In this song, the Island, and Summersong he uses the word. It's not that I do not like songs about death(au contraire), it's just that I would expect more diverse word choices from the Decemberists is all.
    RemyLebeauon September 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy favorite on thew new album. It sounds just folky enough and still has the decemberists feel. Petra has a beautiful voice - is this the first duet the decemberists have done?
    JDSalingeron September 07, 2006   Link

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