Scarborough Fair Ballad

Scarborough Fair is one of the few surviving original ballads of old England , Yorkshire province to be exact. It is often hailed as one of the few last remaining "medieval style"  pieces that are standardized.

This piece is often performed through the use of an acoustic guitar or an old style "lute" -which is really just a more primitive guitar-.

Scarborough Fair Scarborough Fair (click to enlarge)


This man here performs some of the musical piece on a guitar, it's actually pretty good, check it out:



No the background on the ballad is reminiscent of Hercules because it is about a single man that must go on impossible tasks , set by his wife rather than father, with the hopes of gaining  prize in the end (in this case it is a dirty old rag).

The lyrics are as follows from the revision in 1888:

"Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Remember me to one who lives there,
She was once a true love of mine.
Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Without a seam or needlework,
She will be a true love of mine.
Tell her to wash it in yonder dry well,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Where never spring water or rain ever fell,
She will be a true love of mine.
Tell her to dry it on yonder grey thorn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Which never bore blossom since Adam was born,
She will be a true love of mine.
Now he has asked me questions three,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
I hope he'll answer as many for me
Before he shall be a true love of mine.
Tell him to buy me an acre of land,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Betwixt the salt water and the sea sand,
Then he shall be a true love of mine.
Tell him to plough it with a ram's horn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And sow it all over with one pepper corn,
And he shall be a true love of mine.
Tell him to shear it with a sickle of leather,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And bind it up with a peacock feather.
And he shall be a true love of mine.
Tell him to thrash it on yonder wall,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
And never let one corn of it fall,
Then he shall be a true love of mine.
When he has done and finished his work.
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme:
Oh, tell him to come and he'll have his shirt,
And he shall be a true love of mine."


Basically Parsley is meant as a "herb of brainpower" , often associated with boosting whit and brain power back in the day.


Sage, since the days of the Greeks has been renowned as a symbol of nominal power.


Rosemary is often associated with love, sex and fertility.


Thyme is physical power, sexual prowess and manliness.


As odd as these lyrics sound, there was actually a stunning recreation of this ballad that we just had to share with you, because it is quite stunning :) In 2005 , one of our personal favorite groups, nox arcana, created a neo-classical version of this song. Here is the result:




It even has the new lyrics, which are a bit less ambiguous for the modern man :)
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