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There were three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and ploughed him down,
Put clods upon his head;
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerfu’ spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surprised them all.

The sultry suns of summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel armed wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober autumn entered mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Showed he began to fail.

His colour sickened more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They’ve ta’en a weapon long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgelled him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o’er and o’er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appeared,
They tossed him to and fro.

They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller used him worst of all,
For he crushed him ‘tween two stones.

And they hae ta’en his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
’Twill make your courage rise;

’Twill make a man forget his woe;
’Twill heighten all his joy:
’Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!
Cedric McClester Nov 2016
By: Cedric McClester

He’s my consolation
And he might be my end
You see me and John Barleycorn
Are the best of friends
I have to turn to someone
When my long day ends
And so me and John Barleycorn
Are the best of friends

Some people say be careful
Cos he packs quite a kick
And others say – watch out
Cos he can make you sick

But he’s always there
Time and time again
When I need a pick me up
I can count on him
Ya see he never fails me
I’m telling you my friend
I just have to raise my glass
And all my problems end

(Chorus)
Some people say be careful
Cos he packs quite a kick
And others say – watch out
Cos he can make you sick

I’m aware of the danger
That our friendship poses
But here’s the thing I feel
That nobody knows is
All the comfort I derive
From him being there
He has the ability
To take away despair

Some people say be careful
Cos he packs quite a kick
And others say – watch out
Cos he can make you sick

I know that they talk about us
They do it all the time
But us being the best of friends
Hardly is a crime
It’s a special relationship
That we happen to enjoy
And I’m just being candid
Instead of being coy

Some people say be careful
Cos he packs quite a kick
And others say – watch out
Cos he can make you sick

He’s my consolation
And he might be my end
You see me and John Barleycorn
Are the best of friends
I have to turn to someone
When my long day ends
And so me and John Barleycorn
Are the best of friends
A Tale

“Of Brownyis and of Bogilis full is this Buke.”
                              —Gawin Douglas.

When chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neebors neebors meet,
As market-days are wearing late,
An’ folk begin to tak’ the gate;
While we sit bousing at the *****,
An’ getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, and stiles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Whare sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

This truth fand honest Tam o’Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,
(Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonie lasses).

O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise,
As ta’en thy ain wife Kate’s advice!
She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum,
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum,
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was nae sober;
That ilka melder, wi’ the miller,
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;
That ev’ry naig was ca’d a shoe on,
The smith and thee gat roarin fou on;
That at the Lord’s house, ev’n on Sunday,
Thou drank wi’ Kirkton Jean till Monday.
She prophesied that, late or soon,
Thou would be found deep drowned in Doon;
Or catched wi’ warlocks in the mirk,
By Alloway’s auld haunted kirk.

Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,
To think how mony counsels sweet,
How mony lengthened sage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises!

But to our tale: Ae market-night,
Tam had got planted unco right;
Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely,
Wi’ reaming swats, that drank divinely;
And at his elbow, Souter Johnny,
His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony;
Tam lo’ed him like a vera brither;
They had been fou for weeks thegither.
The night drave on wi’ sangs an’ clatter;
And aye the ale was growing better:
The landlady and Tam grew gracious,
Wi’ favours, secret, sweet, and precious:
The Souter tauld his queerest stories;
The landlord’s laugh was ready chorus:
The storm without might rair and rustle,
Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.

Care, mad to see a man sae happy,
E’en drowned himself amang the *****;
As bees flee hame wi’ lades o’ treasure,
The minutes winged their way wi’ pleasure:
Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious,
O’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious!

But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow’r, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white—then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm.—
Nae man can tether time or tide;
The hour approaches Tam maun ride;
That hour, o’ night’s black arch the key-stane,
That dreary hour he mounts his beast in;
And sic a night he tak’s the road in,
As ne’er poor sinner was abroad in.

The wind blew as ‘twad blawn its last;
The rattling showers rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallowed;
Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellowed:
That night, a child might understand,
The De’il had business on his hand.

Weel mounted on his grey mare, Meg,
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit on thro’ dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet;
Whiles crooning o’er some auld Scots sonnet;
Whiles glow’rin round wi’ prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares;
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry.

By this time he was cross the ford,
Whare in the snaw the chapman smoored;
And past the birks and meikle stane,
Whare drunken Charlie brak’s neck-bane;
And thro’ the whins, and by the cairn,
Whare hunters fand the murdered bairn;
And near the thorn, aboon the well,
Whare Mungo’s mither hanged hersel’.
Before him Doon pours all his floods;
The doubling storm roars thro’ the woods;
The lightnings flash from pole to pole;
Near and more near the thunders roll;
When, glimmering thro’ the groaning trees,
Kirk-Alloway seemed in a bleeze;
Thro’ ilka bore the beams were glancing;
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst mak’ us scorn!
Wi’ tippenny, we fear nae evil;
Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil!
The swats sae reamed in Tammie’s noddle,
Fair play, he cared na deils a boddle.
But Maggie stood right sair astonished,
Till, by the heel and hand admonished,
She ventured forward on the light;
And, wow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance;
Nae cotillion, brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels.
A winnock-bunker in the east,
There sat auld Nick, in shape o’ beast;
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
To gie them music was his charge:
He ******* the pipes and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a’ did dirl.—
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That shawed the Dead in their last dresses;
And by some devilish cantraip sleight
Each in its cauld hand held a light,
By which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the haly table,
A murderer’s banes in gibbet-airns;
Twa span-lang, wee, unchristened bairns;
A thief, new-cutted frae a ****,
Wi’ his last gasp his gab did gape;
Five tomahawks, wi’ blude red-rusted;
Five scimitars, wi’ ****** crusted;
A garter, which a babe had strangled;
A knife, a father’s throat had mangled,
Whom his ain son o’ life bereft,
The grey hairs yet stack to the heft;
Wi’ mair of horrible and awfu’,
Which even to name *** be unlawfu’.

As Tammie glowered, amazed and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious:
The Piper loud and louder blew;
The dancers quick and quicker flew;
They reeled, they set, they crossed, they cleekit,
Till ilka carlin swat and reekit,
And coost her duddies to the wark,
And linket at it in her sark!

Now Tam, O Tam! had they been queans,
A’ plump and strapping in their teens;
Their sarks, instead o’ creeshie flainen,
Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen!—
Thir breeks o’ mine, my only pair,
That ance were plush, o’ gude blue hair,
I *** hae gi’en them off my hurdies,
For ae blink o’ the bonie burdies!

But withered beldams, auld and droll,
Rigwoodie hags *** spean a foal,
Lowping and flinging on a crummock,
I wonder didna turn thy stomach.

But Tam kenned what was what fu’ brawlie:
‘There was ae winsome ***** and waulie’,
That night enlisted in the core
(Lang after kenned on Carrick shore;
For mony a beast to dead she shot,
And perished mony a bonie boat,
And shook baith meikle corn and bear,
And kept the country-side in fear);
Her cutty sark, o’ Paisley harn,
That while a lassie she had worn,
In longitude tho’ sorely scanty,
It was her best, and she was vauntie.
Ah! little kenned thy reverend grannie,
That sark she coft for her wee Nannie,
Wi’ twa pund Scots (’twas a’ her riches),
*** ever graced a dance of witches!

But here my Muse her wing maun cour,
Sic flights are far beyond her power;
To sing how Nannie lap and flang,
(A souple jade she was and strang),
And how Tam stood, like ane bewitched,
And thought his very een enriched;
Even Satan glowered, and fidged fu’ fain,
And hotched and blew wi’ might and main:
Till first ae caper, syne anither,
Tam tint his reason a’ thegither,
And roars out, “Weel done, Cutty-sark!”
And in an instant all was dark:
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
When out the hellish legion sallied.

As bees bizz out wi’ angry fyke,
When plundering herds assail their byke;
As open pussie’s mortal foes,
When, pop! she starts before their nose;
As eager runs the market-crowd,
When “Catch the thief!” resounds aloud;
So Maggie runs, the witches follow,
Wi’ mony an eldritch screech and hollow.

Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou’ll get thy fairin!
In hell they’ll roast thee like a herrin!
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin!
Kate soon will be a woefu’ woman!
Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg,
And win the key-stane of the brig;
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they dare na cross.
But ere the key-stane she could make,
The fient a tail she had to shake!
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam wi’ furious ettle;
But little wist she Maggie’s mettle—
Ae spring brought off her master hale,
But left behind her ain grey tail:
The carlin claught her by the ****,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

Now, wha this tale o’ truth shall read,
Ilk man and mother’s son, take heed:
Whene’er to drink you are inclined,
Or cutty-sarks run in your mind,
Think, ye may buy the joys o’er dear,
Remember Tam o’Shanter’s mare.
Lyn Senz Nov 2013
Swollen besotted cloudy eyes
it's no surprize
you've forgotten lies
and after all
it's what you're drinking for

well their shallow voices hurt my ears
awake my fears but no more tears
I'll just go to the store, once more
with riddled past my past is present
see they're all Kings and I'm a peasent
and I can't be pleasent, anymore
it's what I'm drinking for

and she's not me no
she's so free so
heavenly
atleast it seems

so I go low and wander slow
no one to tow along
and the race is won
with the setting sun
I'm right where we belong

with silent screams
and faded dreams
til there's no more war

it's what  we're drinking for


©2002 Lyn
Geno Cattouse Nov 2012
When I was younger
I got high for perspective.
. Mostly
Though I discoed with John Barleycorn.
Doing the hustle and the bump.
  Then
Now. What a chump
Powdered my nose a bit
Too.
Superman in flare-wide bell bottoms.
Platform shoes.
My left foot.
Still hurts.

Love to meet my guardiaan angel and
Buy him a drink.
He put in overtime
Thanks.
The cloud hung over the mountainside
Like a black and evil pall,
It took the sun from the valley, and
It held the folk in thrall,
The crops lay dormant in the fields
For they wouldn’t ripen now,
The farmers down in the valley cried,
‘It has to go, but how?’

They’d watched the cloud as it gathered
Bringing a dark and fierce storm,
With hail that battered the tender shoots
And flattened the barleycorn,
They shook their fists at the darkening sky
At this untoward attack,
But the cloud had threatened them, by and by
When the lightning answered back.

Then thunder rolled down the mountainside
And it shook their rustic homes,
It rattled the beams and the rafters, and
Was felt in their feeble bones,
They thought the wind would blow it away
But the air up there was calm,
And still it hovered there, day by day
To blanket each valley farm.

The tiny Kirk was amass with men
Who’d never been there before,
In hopes that a sudden show of faith
Would bring their god to the fore,
But the cloud still leered from the mountaintop
For weeks, and it hung there low,
‘Perhaps the answer is not with God,
But the gods of long ago!’

The older men in the village thought
The answer might lie with Baal,
And some had prayed to the thunder god
But the answer they got was hail,
‘There must be something the elders knew
To bring such things to a stop.’
‘That cloud up there is the Wandering Jew
Who never may reap a crop.’

They racked their brains for the thing to do
And one of them wasn’t nice,
‘What we need is a ****** girl
To send up a sacrifice.’
So they seized a maid called Annabelle,
Whose parents were dead and gone,
And dragged her up to the mountaintop
In hopes it would move along.

But they weren’t too sure just what to do,
Should they play a chord with a lyre,
Should they sound a note, then cut her throat
And throw her corpse on a fire?
She screamed at the top of her voice, just once
And the sun came shining through,
‘I’ve not been a ****** now, six months,
But I wouldn’t be telling you!’

David Lewis Paget

— The End —