John Barleycorn must die!

Leggi in italiano

John Barleycorn (in Italian Giovanni Chicco d’Orzo) is a traditional song spread in England and Scotland, focused on this popular character, embodiment of the spirit of beer and whiskey. (see)
There are several text versions collected at different times; the oldest known is from 1460.
As often happens with the most popular ballads we talk about family in reference to a set of texts and melodies connected to each other or related.

The plot traced by Pete Wood is well documented and we refer you to his John Barleycorn revisited for the deepening: the first ballad that identifies a man as the spirit of barley is Allan-a-Maut (Allan del Malto) and it comes from Scotland .
The first ballad that bears the name John Barleycorn is instead of 1624, printed in London “A Pleasant new Ballad.To be sung evening and morn, of the bloody murder of Sir John Barleycorn” shortened in The Pleasant Ballad: as Pete Wood points out, all the elements that characterize the current version of the ballad are already present, the oath of the knights to kill John, the rain that quenches him, and the sun that warms him to give him energy, the miller who grinds him between two stones.

Originale screenprint by Paul Bommer (da qui)

THE DEATH-REBIRTH OF KING BARLEY

spirito-granoIt is narrated the death of the King of Barley according to myths and beliefs that date back to the beginning of the peasant culture, customs that were followed in England in these forms until the early decades of the ‘900.
According to James George Frazier in “The Golden Bough“, anciently “John” was chosen among the youth of the tribe and treated like a king for a year; at the appointed time, however, he was killed, following a macabre ritual: his body was dragged across the fields so that the blood soaked the earth and fed the barley.

More recently in the Celtic peasant tradition the spirit of the wheat entered the reaper who cut the last sheaf (who symbolically killed the god) and he had to be sacrificed just as described in the song (or at least figuratively and symbolically). see more

However, the spirit of the Wheat-Barley never dies because it is reborn the following year with the new crop, its strength and its ardor are contained in the whiskey that is obtained from the distillation of barley malt!

JOHN BARLEYCORN

“The Pleasant ballad” was set to the tune “Shall I Lie Beyond Thee?” on the broadside.63  This tune is quoted by a number of sources by a variety of very similar titles, including “Lie Lulling Beyond Thee” .  It is this writer’s belief from a variety of considerations, including Simpson 64 that these are one and the same tune.  There has been some confusion regarding the use of the tune “Stingo” for various members of the family.  Several publications say that John Barleycorn should be sung to this tune, (including Dixon), and some people have assumed this was the tune for “The Pleasant Ballad.”  These impressions seem to have originated from Chappell 65, who meant that “Stingo” was the tune for another member of the family “The Little Barleycorne”, a view which accords with his own comments on the version in the Roxburghe Ballads 66, with Simpson, and Baring-Gould who says ‘[Stingo] is not the air used in the broadsides nor in the west of England’ 67.  Two further tunes, “The Friar & the Nun” and “Twas when the seas were roaring”, are mentioned by Simpson.  Mas Mault has been suggested to be set to the tune “Triumph and Joy”, the original title of “Greensleeves”. 68 (Pete Wood)

In fact, as many as 45 different melodies have been used for centuries for this ballad, and Pete Wood analyzes the four most common melodies.

 MELODY 1

The 1906 version of John Stafford published by Sharp in English Folk Songs is probably the melody that comes closest to the time of James I
The Young Tradition

MELODY DIVES AND LAZARUS

The Shepherd Haden version became “standard” for being included in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.T

Traffic (Learned by Mike Waterson)

Traffic lyrics
I
There was three men come out of the West
Their fortunes for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn(1) must die.
II
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in
Throwing clods all on his head
And these three men made a solemn vow
John barleycorn was Dead.
III
They’ve left him in the ground for a very long time
Till the rains from heaven did fall
Then little Sir John’s sprung up his head
And so amazed them all
IV
They’ve left him in the ground till the Midsummer
Till he’s grown both pale and wan
Then little Sir John’s grown a long, long beard
And so become a man.
V
They hire’d men with their scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee.
They’ve bound him and tied him around the waist
Serving him most barb’rously
VI
They hire’d men with their sharp pitch-forks
To prick him to the heart
But the drover he served him worse than that
For he’s bound him to the cart.
VII
They’ve rolled him around and around the field
Till they came unto a barn
And there they made a solemn mow
Of Little Sir John Barleycorn
VIII
They’ve hire’d men with their crab-tree sticks
To strip him skin from bone
But the miller, he served him worse than that,
For he’s ground him between two stones.
IX
Here’s Little sir John in the nut-brown bowl(2)
And brandy in the glass
But Little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl’s
Proved the stronger man at last
X
For the hunts man he can’t hunt the fox
Nor so loudly blow his horn
And the tinker, he can’t mend Kettles or pots
Without a little of Sir John Barleycorn.
NOTES
1)  the spirit of beer and whiskey
2) The cask of walnut or oak used today to age the whiskey

Jetro Tull live


Damh The Bard from The Hills They Are Hollow

JOHN BARLEYCORN, MELODY 3

The version of Robert Pope taken by Vaughan Williams in his Folk Song Suite
version for choir and orchestra

JOHN BARLEYCORN, MELODY 4

from Shropshire
Fred Jordan live

Jean-François Millet - Buckwheat Harvest Summer 1868
Jean-François Millet – Buckwheat Harvest Summer 1868

JOHN BARLEYCORN BY ROBERT BURNS

The version published by Robert Burns in 1782, reworks the ancient folk song and becomes the basis of subsequent versions

The first 3 stanzas are similar to the standard version, apart from the three kings coming from the east to make the solemn oath to kill John Barleycorn, in fact in the English version the three men arrive from the West: to me personally the hypothesis that Burnes he wanted to point out the 3 Magi Kings … it does not seem pertinent to the deep pagan substratum of history: Christianity (or the cult of the God of Light) doesnt want to kill the King of the Wheat, unless you identify the king of the Grain with the Christ (a “blasphemous” comparison that was immediately removed from subsequent versions).

History is the detailed transformation of the grain spirit, grown strong and healthy during the summer, reaped and threshed as soon as autumn arrives, and turned into alcohol; and the much more detailed description (always compared to the standard version) of the pleasures that it provides to men, so that they can draw from the drink, intoxication and inspiration. Burns was notoriously a great connoisseur of whiskey and the last verse is right in his style!

The indicated melody is Lull [e] Me Beyond Thee; other melodies that fit the lyrics are “Stingo” (John Playford, 1650) and “Up in the Morning Early”
The version of the Tickawinda takes up part of the text by singing the stanzas I, II, III, V, VII, XV

Robert Burns
I
There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
II
They took a  plough and plough’d him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead
III
But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris’d them all
IV
The sultry suns  of Summer came,
And he grew  thick and strong,
His head weel   arm’d wi’ pointed spears,
That no one  should him wrong.
V
The sober Autumn enter’d mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show’d he began to fail.
VI
His coulour sicken’d more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
VII
They’ve taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then ty’d him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie(1).
VIII
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell’d him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn’d him o’er and o’er.
IX
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim,
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim
X
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appear’d,
They toss’d him to and fro.
XI
They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a Miller us’d him worst of all,
For he crush’d him between two stones.
XII
And they hae taen his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
XIII
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise,
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise.
XIV
‘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.
XV
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!
NOTES
1) the condemned to death were transported to the place of the gallows on a cart for the public mockery

Steeleye Span from Below the Salt 1972


I (Spoken)
There were three men
Came from the west
Their fortunes for to tell,
And the life of John Barleycorn as well.
II
They laid him in three furrows deep,
Laid clods upon his head,
Then these three man made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn was dead.
III
The let him die for a very long time
Till the rain from heaven did fall,
Then little Sir John sprang up his head
And he did amaze them all.
IV
They let him stand till the midsummer day,
Till he looked both pale and wan.
The little Sir John he grew a long beard
And so became a man.
CHORUS:
Fa la la la, it’s a lovely day
Fa la la la lay o
Fa la la la, it’s a lovely day
Sing fa la la la lay
V
They have hired men with the scythes so sharp,
To cut him off at the knee,
The rolled him and they tied him around the waist,
They served him barbarously.
VI
They have hired men with the crab-tree sticks,
To cut him skin from bone,
And the miller has served him worse than that,
For he’s ground him between two stones.
VII
They’ve wheeled him here,
they’ve wheeled him there,
They’ve wheeled him to a barn,
And thy have served him worse than that,
They’ve bunged him in a vat.
VIII
They have worked their will on John Barleycorn
But he lived to tell the tale,
For they pour him out of an old brown jug
And they call him home brewed ale(1).
NOTES
1) The oldest drink in the world obtained from the fermentation of various cereals. The beer originally was classified out as “beer” (with hops) and “ale” (without hops) . Its processing processes start with a spontaneous fermentation of the starch (ie the sugar) that is the main component in cereals, when they come into contact with water, due to wild yeasts contained in the air. And just as in bread, female food, EARTH, WATER, AIR and FIRE combine magically to give life to a divine food that strengthens and inebriates.
The English term of homebrewing or the art of home-made beer translates into Italian with an abstruse word: domozimurgia and domozimurgo is the producer of homemade beer in which domo, is the Latin root for “home”; zimurgo is the one who practices “zimurgy”, or the science of fermentation processes. The domozimurgo is therefore the one who, within his own home, studies, applies and experiments the alchemy of fermentation. Making beer for your own consumption (including that of the inevitable friends and relatives) is absolutely legal as well as fun and relatively simple although you never stop learning through the exchange of experiences and experimentati
on
see more

And finally the COLLAGE of the versions of Tickawinda, Avalon Rising, John Renbourn, Lanterna Lucis Viriditatis, Xenis Emputae, Travelling Band, Louis Killen, Traffic

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/barleycorn.htm
http://www.musicaememoria.com/JohnBarleycorn2.htm
http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/j_barley.htm
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=14888
http://www.omniscrit.com/2013/01/who-was-john-barleycorn-folk-song-and.html

Good luck to the barley mow

Leggi in italiano

A popular drinking song from rural England, Ireland and Scotland (and the Americas) that could not miss after the “crying of the neck” or during a “Harvest supper“; this auspicious song is also a tavern game: the most common form of the game sees only one singer, while the audience lifts the glass to drink twice in the refrain responding to the auspicious verse with a joyful “Good luck!”; in the second version a soloist intones the first stanza and all the participants sing in chorus the progressive refrain, whom that mistakes the words, or takes a breath to sing, must drink. Obviously the goal of the game is to drink more and more, as you make mistakes!

Harvest-Scene-Barrow-Trent-1881
Harvest Scene, Barrow-on-Trent, Derbyshire, George Turner II 1881

GIVE US ONCE A DRINKE

The song is very ancient as the rituals inherent to the harvest of wheat / barley are ancient (see traditional methods); the first known publication dates back to 1609, in the Deuteromelia by Thomas Ravenscroft, with the title “Give Us Once A Drinke” is transcribed as it was sung in the Elizabethan taverns.

The song started with:
“Give us once a drink for and the black bole(1)
Sing gentle Butler(2) “balla moy”(3)
For and the black bole,
Sing gentle Butler balla moy”
and it ended with:
“Give us once a drink for and the tunne
Sing gentle Butler balla moy
The tunne, the butt The pipe, the hogshead The barrel, the kilderkin The verkin, the gallon pot The pottle pot, the quart pot, The pint pot,
for and the black bole
Sing gentle Butler balla moy”

NOTES
1) What were the beer glass like in medieval taverns? The three most common materials at the time were metal (pewter), glass and ceramics. In Italy in the fourteenth century, for example in the taverns, glass was more common. Here we quote a black bowl that makes one think more properly of a dark bowl or cup, perhaps made of wood? In the wassaling songs, which are also very old, the material of the toast cups carved in the wood is often described. Later, the use of pewter is more likely.
2) bottler
3) the scholars believe it could be for ‘Bell Ami’, only later the song became part of the songs during the Harvest festival and the verse was changed to ‘Barley Mow’, others believe that it is a Mondegreen.

BARLEY MOW

Over time, new strophes have been added and especially in the nineteenth century there are many transcriptions in the collections of old traditional songs such as in “Songs of the Peasantry of England”, by Robert Bell 1857 : This song is sung at country meetings in Devon and Cornwall, particularly on completing the carrying of the barley, when the rick, or mow of barley, is finished. On putting up the last sheaf, which is called the craw (or crow) sheaf, the man who has it cries out ‘I have it, I have it, I have it;’ another demands, ‘What have ’ee, what have ’ee, what have ’ee?’ and the answer is, ‘A craw! a craw! a craw!’ upon which there is some cheering,& c., and a supper afterwards. The effect of the Barley-mow Song cannot be given in words; it should be heard, to be appreciated properly, – particularly with the West-country dialect.
Robert Bell transcribes the widespread version in West England and also the variant sung in Suffolk

Here’s a health to the barley mow!
Here’s a health to the man
Who very well can
Both harrow and plow and sow!
When it is well sown
See it is well mown,
Both raked and gavelled clean,
And a barn to lay it in.
He’s a health to the man
Who very well can
Both thrash (1) and fan it clean!
NOTES
1) in the Middle Ages there were two ways to separate the wheat grains from the ear: the farmer beat the sheaves with a stick or a whip or they were trampled by the draft animals.
The sifting: wheat and chaff were separated first by placing them in a sieve and then throwing them in the air (it must of course be a breezy day) the chaff flew away and the grain returned to the sieve.

 

maste-drinking
The master of drinking Adriaen Brouwer (1606-1638)

The Barley Mow is one of the best-known cumulative songs from the English folk repertoire and was usually sung at harvest suppers, often as a test of sobriety. Alfred Williams, who noted a splendid set in the Wiltshire village of Inglesham some time prior to the Great War, wrote that he was “unable to fix its age, or even to suggest it, though doubtless the piece has existed for several centuries.” Robert Bell found the song being sung in Devon and Cornwall during the middle part of the 19th century, especially after “completing the carrying of the barley, when the rick, or mow, of barley is finished.” Bell’s comment that “the effect of The Barley Mow cannot be given in words; it should be heard, to be appreciated properly” is certainly true, and most singers who know the song pride themselves on being able to get through it without making a mistake.(Mike Yates)

So we toast to all the dimensions in which beer is marketed (and are indicated in all the existing measures in the past times from the barrel  to the “bowl” and to the health of all those who “manipulate” the beer and of all the “merry brigade” who drinks it!

Arthur Smith in’The Barley Mow’ (1955)  a typical pub in Suffolk in the fifties.See VIDEO: 

Irish Rovers


Here’s good luck to the pint pot,
good luck to the barley mow, (1)
Jolly good luck to the pint pot,
good luck to the barley mow;
Oh, the pint pot, half a pint, gill, (2) half a gill, quarter gill
Nipperkin (3) and a round bowl(4)
Here’s good luck, (5)
good luck, good luck
to the barley mow.
Here’s good luck to the half gallon, good luck to the barley mow,
Jolly good luck to the half gallon,
good luck to the barley mow;
Oh, the half gallon, pint pot, half a pint, gill, half a gill …
Here’s good luck to the gallon,
Here’s good luck to the half barrel,
Here’s good luck to the barrel,
Here’s good luck to the daughter(6),
Here’s good luck to the landlord,
Here’s good luck to the landlady,
Jolly good luck to the landlady,
Jolly good luck to the brewer, (7)
Here’s good luck to the company, good luck to the barley mow,
Jolly good luck to the company,
good luck to the barley mow;
Oh, the company, brewer, landlady, landlord, daughter, barrel,
Half barrel, gallon, half gallon, pint pot, half a pint, gill,
Half a gill, quarter gill, nipperkin and a round bowl,
Here’s good luck, good luck,
good luck to the barley mow.

NOTES
1) [shout GOOD LUCK and drink a sip!]
2) they are all units of measure ordered by the largest (barrel) to the smallest (round bowl).
But as for all units of measurement of the peasant tradition there are local differences in the measured quantity
a gill is a half-pint in a northern pub, but a quarter-pint down south“.
3) “The nipperkin is a unit of measurement of volume, equal to one-half of a quarter-gill, one-eighth of a gill, or one thirty-second of an English pint.
In other estimations, one nip (an abbreviation that originated in 1796) is either one-third of a pint, or any amount less than or equal to half a pint
“.[wiki] “A nip was also used by brewers to refer to a small bottle of ale (usually a strong one such as Barley Wine or Russian Stout) which was sold in 1/3 pint bottles“.
4) “The round bowl” sometimes also “hand-around bowl”, “brown bowl” or “bonny bowl” could be the typical cup with which toasted in the wassailing evidently a unit of measure that has been lost over time.
5) [shout GOOD LUCK, drinking is optional!]
6) the daughter of the tavern owner or more generally she is a waitress serving at the tables
7) there are those who add “the slavey” and “the drayer” to the list; “slavery” means a servant and “the draye” is the one who pulls (or guides) the cart that is the man of deliveries that in fact supplies the tavern with beer. The name derives from the fact that once such a cart was wheelless and was dragged like a sled.

slavery

HOW MUCH DOES A PINT?
therightglass

The draft beer is marketed in the Anglo-Saxon countries starting from the pint that in England and Ireland corresponds to 20 ounces (568 ml ie roughly 50cl). The American pint instead corresponds to 16 ounces; so the standard glass for beer contains exactly a pint (as we call Italian “big beer”); the shapes vary according to the time and the fashions, but the capacity of the glass is always a pint! A law by the British parliament in 1698 stated that “ale and beer” (ie beer without hops and beer with hops) must be served in public only in “pints, full quarts (two pints) * or multiples thereof”. The rule was further reiterated in 1824 by imposing the imperial unit as a unit of measure for all beverages. * The glass that contains 2 imperial pints (1.14 liters) is the yard or a narrow and long glass just a yard. Today with the adaptation to European regulations the British government has “restricted” the pint to “schooner” (as it is called in Australia, but we are still waiting for the nickname that will be given in England to the new measure!) The glass equal to 2/3 pint (400 ml)

THE BARLEY MOW (ROUD 10722)

A variant always from Suffolk

I
Well we ploughed the land and we planted it,
and we watched the barley grow.
We rolled it and we harrowed it
and we cleaned it with a hoe.(1)
Then we waited ‘til the farmer said,
“It’s time for harvest now.
Get out your axes and sharpen, boys,
it’s time for barley mow.”
Chorus
Well, here’s luck to barley mow
and the land that makes it grow.
We’ll drink to old John Barleycorn(2),
here’s luck to barley mow.
So fill up all the glasses, lads,
and stand them in a row:
A gill, a half a pint, a pint, a pint and a quart and here’s luck to barley mow.
II
Well we went and mowed the barley
and we left it on the ground.
We left it in the sun and rain ‘til it was nicely brown.
Then one day off to the maltsters,
then John Barleycorn did go.
The day he went away, we all did say,
“Here’s luck to barley mow.”
III
Have no fear of old John Barleycorn
when he’s as green as grass.
But old John Barleycorn is strong enough
to sit you on your arse.
But there’s nothing better ever brewed
than we are drinking now,
Fill them up: we’ll have another round,
here’s good luck to barley mow.

NOTES
1) weeding: cutting and shuffling of the ground for the most superficial part
2) John Barleycorn is the spirit of beer 

LINK
https://anglofolksongs.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/the-barley-mow/
http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext96/oleng10h.htm
http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/27/barley.htm http://www.chivalry.com/cantaria/lyrics/barleymow.html http://mainlynorfolk.info/tony.rose/songs/barleymow.html http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=151726
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=3873 http://www.efdss.org/component/content/article/45-efdss-site/learning-resources/1540-efdss-resource-bank-chorus-barley-mow http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/english/barlymow.htm

Alla salute del covone d’orzo

Read the post in English

Una drinking song diffusa nell’Inghilterra rurale, Irlanda e Scozia (e Americhe) che non poteva mancare dopo il “crying of the neck” o durante una “Harvest supper“; questa canzone benaugurale è anche un gioco da taverna: la forma più comune del gioco vede un solo cantante, mentre il pubblico alza il calice per bere due volte nel ritornello rispondendo alla strofa benaugurale con un gioioso “Good luck!“; nella seconda versione un solista intona la prima strofa e tutti i partecipanti cantano in coro il ritornello progressivo, chi sbaglia le parole, o prende fiato per cantare, deve bere. Ovviamente lo scopo del gioco è quello di bere sempre di più, man mano che si sbaglia!

Harvest-Scene-Barrow-Trent-1881
Harvest Scene, Barrow-on-Trent, Derbyshire, George Turner II 1881

GIVE US ONCE A DRINKE

La canzone è molto antica così come sono antichi i rituali inerenti alla raccolta del grano/orzo (vedi i metodi tradizionali); la prima pubblicazione conosciuta risale al 1609, nel Deuteromelia di Thomas Ravenscroft, con il titolo “Give Us Once A Drinke” viene trascritta così come era cantata nelle taverne elisabettiane.

La canzone iniziava con:
“Give us once a drink for and the black bole(1)
Sing gentle Butler(2) “balla moy”(3)
For and the black bole,
Sing gentle Butler balla moy”
e finiva con:
“Give us once a drink for and the tunne
Sing gentle Butler balla moy
The tunne, the butt The pipe, the hogshead The barrel, the kilderkin The verkin, the gallon pot The pottle pot, the quart pot, The pint pot,
for and the black bole
Sing gentle Butler balla moy”

NOTE
1) Com’erano i bicchieri da birra nelle taverne medievali? I tre materiali più diffusi al tempo erano il metallo (peltro), il vetro e la ceramica. In Italia nel Trecento, ad esempio nelle taverne era più diffuso per i bicchieri l’uso del vetro, e per i contenitori di servizio la ceramica (terra cotta invetriata internamente). Qui si cita una black bowl che fa pensare più propriamente a una ciotola o coppa scura, forse in legno? Nelle canzoni del wassaling, esse pure molto antiche, si descrive spesso il materiale delle coppe per il brindisi intagliate nel legno. Successivamente è più probabile l’uso del peltro.
2) bottler
3) gli studiosi ritengono che potrebbe stare per ‘Bell Ami’, solo in un secondo tempo la canzone è entrata a far parte dei canti durante la festa del Raccolto e il verso si è modificato in ‘Barley Mow’, altri ritengono che si tratti di un mondegreen.

BARLEY MOW

Nel tempo si sono aggiunte nuove strofe e soprattutto nell’Ottocento si hanno molte trascrizioni nelle raccolte di vecchie canzoni tradizionali come ad esempio in “Songs of the Peasantry of England”, di Robert Bell 1857 che così scrive: “Questa canzone è cantata durante le riunioni di paese nel Devon e in Cornovaglia, in particolare per completare il trasporto dell’orzo, quando il rick, o la falciatura dell’orzo, è finito. Prendendo l’ultimo covone, che è chiamato the craw (o crow), l’uomo che lo tiene grida “Ce l’ho, ce l’ho, ce l’ho”, un altro chiede: “Che cosa hai? ‘e la risposta è, ‘ Un crow con una cosa allegra ecc”, dopo c’è una cena. L’effetto della Canzone d’orzo non può essere dato a parole; dovrebbe essere ascoltato, per essere apprezzato correttamente, in particolare con il dialetto del Paese Occidentale
Robert Bell riporta la versione diffusa nell’Inghilterra Ovest e anche la variante cantata nel Suffolk

Here’s a health to the barley mow!
Here’s a health to the man
Who very well can
Both harrow and plow and sow!
When it is well sown
See it is well mown,
Both raked and gavelled clean,
And a barn to lay it in.
He’s a health to the man
Who very well can
Both thrash (1) and fan it clean!
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Alla salute del covone d’orzo
alla salute dell’uomo
che con perizia sa come usare l’erpice, l’aratro e seminare!
Quando è tutto seminato
si vedrà ben falciato
e raccolto e legato bene
e portato in un fienile.
Alla salute dell’uomo
che con perizia lo trebbia (1) e vaglia bene

NOTE
1) La Trebbiatura: nel medioevo esistevano due modi per separare i chicchi di grano dalla spiga: il contadino batteva i covoni con un bastone o una frusta (detto correggiato) oppure li faceva calpestare dagli animali da tiro.
La Vagliatura: chicchi di grano e pula erano separati prima mettendoli in un setaccio e poi gettandoli in aria (doveva ovviamente essere una giornata ventilata) la pula volava via e il chicco tornava nel setaccio.

maste-drinking
The master of drinking Adriaen Brouwer (1606-1638)

The Barley Mow è una delle canzoni cumulative più conosciute del repertorio folk inglese e veniva solitamente cantata nelle cene della vendemmia, spesso come prova di sobrietà. Alfred Williams, che annotò uno splendido set nel villaggio di Inglesham nel Wiltshire qualche tempo prima della Grande Guerra, scrisse che era “incapace di definire la sua età, e nemmeno suggerirla, anche se senza dubbio il pezzo esiste da diversi secoli”. Robert Bell ha trovato la canzone cantata nel Devon e in Cornovaglia durante la metà del XIX secolo, specialmente dopo “aver completato il trasporto dell’orzo, quando la falciatura dell’orzo è finita”. Bell commenta che “l’effetto della ” Barley Mow” non può essere reso a parole; dovrebbe essere ascoltato, per essere apprezzato correttamente ” è certamente vero, e la maggior parte dei cantanti che conoscono la canzone si vantano di poterla superare senza commettere errori.(Mike Yates)

Così si brinda a tutte le dimensioni in cui viene commercializzata la birra (e sono indicati in tutte le misure esistenti nei tempi passati dal fusto (barrel) alla “bowl” e alla salute di tutti coloro che “manipolano” la birra per arrivare fino alla “allegra brigata” che la beve!

Arthur Smith nel film ; ‘The Barley Mow’ (1955) un tipico pub a Suffolk negli anni cinquanta. VIDEO

Irish Rovers


Here’s good luck to the pint pot,
good luck to the barley mow, (1)
Jolly good luck to the pint pot,
good luck to the barley mow;
Oh, the pint pot, half a pint, gill, (2) half a gill, quarter gill
Nipperkin (3) and a round bowl(4)
Here’s good luck, (5)
good luck, good luck
to the barley mow.
Here’s good luck to the half gallon, good luck to the barley mow,
Jolly good luck to the half gallon,
good luck to the barley mow;
Oh, the half gallon, pint pot, half a pint, gill, half a gill …
Here’s good luck to the gallon,
Here’s good luck to the half barrel,
Here’s good luck to the barrel,
Here’s good luck to the daughter(6),
Here’s good luck to the landlord,
Here’s good luck to the landlady,
Jolly good luck to the landlady,
Jolly good luck to the brewer, (7)
Here’s good luck to the company, good luck to the barley mow,
Jolly good luck to the company,
good luck to the barley mow;
Oh, the company, brewer, landlady, landlord, daughter, barrel,
Half barrel, gallon, half gallon, pint pot, half a pint, gill,
Half a gill, quarter gill, nipperkin and a round bowl,
Here’s good luck, good luck,
good luck to the barley mow.
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Ecco alla salute della pinta
alla salute del covone d’orzo
Alla salute della pinta
alla salute del covone d’orzo
la pinta, la mezza pinta, un quarto di pinta, metà gill, un quarto di gill
nippekin e la grolla
Ecco alla salute
alla salute
del covone d’orzo
Ecco alla salute del mezzo gallone
alla salute del covone d’orzo
alla salute del mezzo gallone
alla salute del covone d’orzo
il mezzo gallone, la pinta, la mezza pinta, il gill, il mezzo gill..
Ecco alla salute del gallone
Ecco alla salute del mezzo barrel
Ecco alla salute della figlia
Ecco alla salute della padrone
Ecco alla salute della padrona
buona salute della padrona
buona salute al birraio
ecco alla salute della compagnia
alla salute del covone d’orzo
ecco alla salute della compagnia
alla salute del covone d’orzo
oh la compagnia, il birrario, la padrona, il padrone, la figlia, il barile
etc

NOTE
1) [gridare GOOD LUCK e bere un sorso!]
2) sono tutte unità di misura in volume ordinate dalla più grande (barrel) alla più piccola (round bowl).
Le misure di capacità inglesi sono le seguenti:
gallone, detto anche imperial gallon, (abbreviato con la sigla gall) che equivale a l 4,545.
Il gallone si divide in 4 quarti (abbreviato con la sigla qt). Un quarto è pari a l 1,136.
Il quarto si divide in 2 pinte (abbreviate con la sigla pt). Una pinta è pari a l 0,568.
Il quarto si divide in 4 gills (abbreviato con la sigla gill). Un gill è pari a 0,142.
Ma come per tutte le unità di misura della tradizione contadina ci sono differenze locali nella quantità misurata
a gill is a half-pint in a northern pub, but a quarter-pint down south“.
3) “The nipperkin is a unit of measurement of volume, equal to one-half of a quarter-gill, one-eighth of a gill, or one thirty-second of an English pint.
In other estimations, one nip (an abbreviation that originated in 1796) is either one-third of a pint, or any amount less than or equal to half a pint
“.[wiki] “A nip was also used by brewers to refer to a small bottle of ale (usually a strong one such as Barley Wine or Russian Stout) which was sold in 1/3 pint bottles“.
4) “The round bowl” a volte anche “hand-around bowl”, “brown bowl” oppure “bonny bowl” potrebbe essere la coppa tipica con la quale si brindava nel wassailing evidentemente un’unità di misura che si è andata persa nel tempo.
5) [gridare GOOD LUCK, bere è opzionale!]
6) è la figlia del proprietario della taverna oppure più genericamente una cameriera che serve ai tavoli
7) c’è chi aggiunge nell’elenco anche “the slavey” e “the drayer“; per “slavery” si intende una servetta e “the draye” è colui che tira (o guida) il carretto cioè l’uomo delle consegne che appunto rifornisce di birra la taverna. Il nome deriva dal fatto che un tempo tale carretto era senza ruote e veniva trascinato come una slitta.

slavery

QUANTO MISURA UNA PINTA?
therightglass

La birra alla spina viene commercializzata nei paesi anglosassoni a partire dalla pinta che in Inghilterra e Irlanda corrisponde a 20 once (568 ml cioè grosso modo 50cl). La pinta americana invece corrisponde a 16 once; così il bicchiere standard con in cui si spilla la birra contiene esattamente una pinta (come viene detta da noi italiani “la birra grande”); le forma variano a seconda del tempo e delle mode, ma la capacità del bicchiere resta sempre di una pinta! Una legge dal parlamento inglese nel 1698 ha dichiarato che “ale and beer” (cioè la birra senza luppolo e la birra con il luppolo) devono essere servite in pubblico solo in “pints, full quarts (two pints)* or multiples thereof”. La regola venne ulteriormente ribadita nel 1824 imponendo come unità di misura per tutte le bevande quella imperiale. *Il bicchiere che contiene 2 pinte imperiali (1,14 lt) è lo yard ossia un bicchiere stretto e lungo appunto una iarda. Oggi con l’adeguamento alle normative europee anche il governo inglese ha “ristretto” la pinta allo “schooner” (come viene chiamata in Australia, ma siamo ancora in attesa del nomignolo che verrà data in Inghilterra alla nuova misura!) il bicchiere pari a 2/3 di pinta (400 ml)

THE BARLEY MOW (ROUD 10722)

Una variante sempre dal Suffolk


I
Well we ploughed the land and we planted it,
and we watched the barley grow.
We rolled it and we harrowed it
and we cleaned it with a hoe.(1)
Then we waited ‘til the farmer said,
“It’s time for harvest now.
Get out your axes and sharpen, boys,
it’s time for barley mow.”
Chorus
Well, here’s luck to barley mow
and the land that makes it grow.
We’ll drink to old John Barleycorn(2),
here’s luck to barley mow.
So fill up all the glasses, lads,
and stand them in a row:
A gill, a half a pint, a pint, a pint and a quart and here’s luck to barley mow.
II
Well we went and mowed the barley
and we left it on the ground.
We left it in the sun and rain ‘til it was nicely brown.
Then one day off to the maltsters,
then John Barleycorn did go.
The day he went away, we all did say,
“Here’s luck to barley mow.”
III
Have no fear of old John Barleycorn
when he’s as green as grass.
But old John Barleycorn is strong enough
to sit you on your arse.
But there’s nothing better ever brewed
than we are drinking now,
Fill them up: we’ll have another round,
here’s good luck to barley mow.
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
Abbiamo arato la terra e abbiamo seminato, e poi abbiamo guardato l’orzo crescere.
L’abbiamo sarchiato con la zappa
e poi abbiamo aspettato fino a quando il contadino diceva
“E’ il tempo del raccolto.
Prendete le vostre falci e affilatele ragazzi, è il tempo per i covoni d’orzo”
CORO:
Alla salute dei covoni d’orzo
e della terra che li fa crescere,
berremo al vecchio John Barleycorn
alla salute del covone d’orzo.
Così riempite tutti i bicchieri, ragazzi,
e metteteli in fila: un quarto di pinta, mezza pinta, una pinta, una pinta e un quarto e alla salute del covone d’orzo.
II
Siamo andati a falciare l’orzo
e l’abbiamo lasciato a terra,
sotto il sole e la pioggia affinchè diventasse bello scuro. Poi dopo un giorno di riposo dai produttori di malto John Barleycorn è andato.
Il giorno che andò via tutti dicemmo
“Alla salute del covone d’orzo”
III
Non abbiamo paura del vecchio John Barleycorn quando è verde come l’erba, ma il vecchio John Barleycorn è forte abbastanza
da farti sedere con il culo per terra,
eppure non c’è niente di meglio mai birrificato di quanto stiamo bevendo adesso,
riempiteli di nuovo: faremo un altro giro alla salute del covone di d’orzo

NOTE
1) lavori sarchiatura: taglio e rimescolamento del terreno per la parte più superficiale
2) John Barleycorn è lo spirito della birra vedi

FONTI
https://anglofolksongs.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/the-barley-mow/
http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext96/oleng10h.htm
http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/27/barley.htm http://www.chivalry.com/cantaria/lyrics/barleymow.html http://mainlynorfolk.info/tony.rose/songs/barleymow.html http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=151726
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=3873 http://www.efdss.org/component/content/article/45-efdss-site/learning-resources/1540-efdss-resource-bank-chorus-barley-mow http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/english/barlymow.htm

John Barleycorn lo spirito del grano

Read the post in English

John Barleycorn (in italiano Giovanni Chicco d’Orzo) è una canzone tradizionale diffusa in Inghilterra e in Scozia, incentrata su questo personaggio popolare, incarnazione dello spirito della birra e del whisky. (vedi) Esistono diverse versioni testuali raccolte in varie epoche; la più antica che si conosce risale al 1460.
Come spesso accade con le ballate più popolari si parla di famiglia in riferimento ad un insieme di testi e melodie collegati tra di loro o imparentati.

Il diagramma tracciato da Pete Wood è ben documentato e si rimanda al suo John Barleycorn revisited per l’approfondimento: la prima ballata che identifica un uomo con lo spirito dell’orzo è Allan-a-Maut (Allan del Malto) e proviene dalla Scozia.
La prima ballata che riporta il nome John Barleycorn è invece del 1624, stampata a Londra “A Pleasant new Ballad.To be sung evening and morn, of the bloody murder of Sir John Barleycorn” abbreviata in The Pleasant Ballad: come sottolinea Pete Wood, tutti gli elementi che caratterizzano la versione attuale della ballata sono già presenti, il giuramento dei cavalieri per uccidere John, la pioggia che lo disseta, e il sole che lo riscalda per dargli energia, il mugnaio che lo macina tra due pietre.

Originale screenprint by Paul Bommer (da qui)

LA MORTE-RINASCITA DEL RE ORZO

spirito-granoSi narra la morte del Re dell’Orzo secondo miti e credenze che risalgono all’inizio della civiltà contadina, usanze che sono state seguite in Inghilterra in queste forme fino ai primi decenni del ‘900.
Secondo James George Frazier ne “Il ramo d’oro”, anticamente “John” era scelto tra i giovani della tribù e trattato come un re per un anno; al tempo prestabilito era però ucciso, seguendo un macabro rituale: il suo corpo veniva trascinato per i campi in modo che il sangue imbevesse la terra e nutrisse l’orzo.

Più recentemente nella tradizione celtica contadina lo spirito del grano entrava nel mietitore che tagliava l’ultimo covone (e simbolicamente uccideva il dio) e doveva essere sacrificato proprio con le modalità descritte nella canzone (o quantomeno in modo figurato e simbolico). continua
Tuttavia lo spirito del Grano-Orzo non muore mai perchè rinasce l’anno successivo con il nuovo raccolto, la sua forza e il suo ardore sono contenuti nel whisky che si ottiene dalla distillazione del malto d’orzo!

JOHN BARLEYCORN

In merito alla melodia Pete Wood osserva:
“The Pleasant ballad” was set to the tune “Shall I Lie Beyond Thee?” on the broadside.63  This tune is quoted by a number of sources by a variety of very similar titles, including “Lie Lulling Beyond Thee” .  It is this writer’s belief from a variety of considerations, including Simpson 64 that these are one and the same tune.  There has been some confusion regarding the use of the tune “Stingo” for various members of the family.  Several publications say that John Barleycorn should be sung to this tune, (including Dixon), and some people have assumed this was the tune for “The Pleasant Ballad.”  These impressions seem to have originated from Chappell 65, who meant that “Stingo” was the tune for another member of the family “The Little Barleycorne”, a view which accords with his own comments on the version in the Roxburghe Ballads 66, with Simpson, and Baring-Gould who says ‘[Stingo] is not the air used in the broadsides nor in the west of England’ 67.  Two further tunes, “The Friar & the Nun” and “Twas when the seas were roaring”, are mentioned by Simpson.  Mas Mault has been suggested to be set to the tune “Triumph and Joy”, the original title of “Greensleeves”. 68

In realtà ben 45 diverse melodie sono state utilizzate nei secoli per questa ballata, e Pete Wood analizza le quattro melodie più diffuse.

 MELODIA 1

La versione di John Stafford del 1906 pubblicata da Sharp in English Folk Songs è probabilmente la melodia che più si avvicina all’epoca di Giacomo I
The Young Tradition

MELODIA DIVES AND LAZARUS

La versione di Shepherd Haden diventata “standard” per essere stata inclusa nel The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.
Traffic (nel video con molte antiche stampe e immagini in tema) una versione che non ha perso per nulla il suo smalto! Imparata da Mike Waterson

testo Traffic
I
There was three men come out of the West
Their fortunes for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn(1) must die.
II
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in
Throwing clods all on his head
And these three men made a solemn vow
John barleycorn was Dead.
III
They’ve left him in the ground for a very long time
Till the rains from heaven did fall
Then little Sir John’s sprung up his head
And so amazed them all
IV
They’ve left him in the ground till the Midsummer
Till he’s grown both pale and wan
Then little Sir John’s grown a long, long beard
And so become a man.
V
They hire’d men with their scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee.
They’ve bound him and tied him around the waist
Serving him most barb’rously
VI
They hire’d men with their sharp pitch-forks
To prick him to the heart
But the drover he served him worse than that
For he’s bound him to the cart.
VII
They’ve rolled him around and around the field
Till they came unto a barn
And there they made a solemn mow
Of Little Sir John Barleycorn
VIII
They’ve hire’d men with their crab-tree sticks
To strip him skin from bone
But the miller, he served him worse than that,
For he’s ground him between two stones.
IX
Here’s Little sir John in the nut-brown bowl(2)
And brandy in the glass
But Little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl’s
Proved the stronger man at last
X
For the hunts man he can’t hunt the fox
Nor so loudly blow his horn
And the tinker, he can’t mend Kettles or pots
Without a little of Sir John Barleycorn.
Traduzione italiana di Alberto Truffi
I
C’erano tre uomini che venivano da occidente,
per tentare la fortuna
e questi tre uomini fecero un solenne voto:
John Barleycorn (1) deve morire.
II
Lo avevano arato, lo avevano seminato, l’avevano ficcato nel terreno
e avevano gettato zolle di terra sulla sua testa e questi tre uomini fecero un voto solenne
John Barleycorn era morto.
III
Lo lasciarono giacere per un tempo molto lungo,
fino a che scese la pioggia dal cielo
e il piccolo sir John tirò fuori la sua testa
e lasciò tutti di stucco.
IV
L’avevano lasciato steso fino al giorno di mezza estate
e fino ad allora lui era sembrato pallido e smorto e al piccolo sir John crebbe una lunga lunga barba e
così divenne un uomo.
V
Avevano assoldato uomini con falci veramente affilate
per tagliargli via il collo
l’avevano avvolto e legato tutto attorno,
trattandolo nel modo più brutale.
VI
Avevano assoldato uomini con i loro forconi affilati
che l’avevano conficcato nella terra
e il caricatore lo trattò peggio
di tutti
perché lo legò al carro.
VII
Andarono con il carro tutto intorno al campo
finchè arrivarono al granaio
e fecero un solenne giuramento
sul povero John Barleycorn.
VIII
Assoldarono uomini con bastoni uncinati
per strappargli via la pelle dalle ossa
e il mugnaio lo trattò
peggio di tutti
perché lo pressò tra due pietre.
IX
E il piccolo sir John con la sua botte di noce (2)
e la sua acquavite nel bicchiere
e il piccolo sir John con la sua botte di noce
dimostrò che era l’uomo più forte.
X
Dopo tutto il cacciatore non può suonare il suo corno
così forte per cacciare la volpe
e lo stagnaio non può riparare un bricco o una pentola
senza un piccolo (sorso) di grano d’orzo.
NOTE
(1) John Grano d’Orzo, personificazione del whisky e della birra
(2) La botte di legno di noce o di rovere usata tutt’oggi per invecchiare il whisky

Jethro Tull live

Damh The Bard in The Hills They Are Hollow

JOHN BARLEYCORN, MELODIA 3

La versione di Robert Pope ripresa da Vaughan Williams nel suo Folk Song Suite
versione per coro e orchestra

JOHN BARLEYCORN, MELODIA 4

come collezionata nel Shropshire
Fred Jordan live

Jean-François Millet - Buckwheat Harvest Summer 1868
Jean-François Millet – Buckwheat Harvest Summer 1868

JOHN BARLEYCORN, LA VERSIONE DI ROBERT BURNS

La versione pubblicata da Robert Burns nel 1782, rielabora l’antico canto popolare e diventa la base delle successive versioni (vedi inizio)

Le prima 3 strofe sono simili alla versione standard, a parte i tre re che arrivano dall’oriente per fare il solenne giuramento di uccidere John Barleycorn, infatti nella versione inglese i tre uomini arrivano dall’Ovest: a me personalmente l’ipotesi che Burnes volesse indicare i 3 Re Magi … sembra poco pertinente al profondo substrato pagano della storia: non è certo il Cristianesimo (o il culto del Dio della Luce) a voler uccidere il Re del Grano, a meno che non si voglia identificare il re del Grano con il Cristo (un “blasfemo” paragone che è stato subito rimosso dalle successive versioni).

La storia è la dettagliata trasformazione dello spirito del grano, cresciuto forte e sano durante l’estate, mietuto e trebbiato appena arriva l’autunno, e trasformato in alcol; e la molto più dettagliata descrizione (sempre rispetto alla versione standard) dei piaceri che esso fornisce agli uomini, affinchè essi possano trarre dalla bevanda ebbrezza ed ispirazione. Burns fu notoriamente un grande estimatore di whisky e l’ultima strofa è proprio nel suo stile!

La melodia indicata è Lull[e] Me Beyond Thee alte melodie che si adattano al testo sono “Stingo” (John Playford, 1650) e “Up in the Morning Early
La versione dei Tickawinda riprende in parte il testo cantando le strofe I, II, III, V, VII, XV

Testo di Robert Burns
I
There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
II
They took a  plough and plough’d him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead
III
But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris’d them all
IV
The sultry suns  of Summer came,
And he grew  thick and strong,
His head weel   arm’d wi’ pointed spears,
That no one  should him wrong.
V
The sober Autumn enter’d mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show’d he began to fail.
VI
His coulour sicken’d more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
VII
They’ve taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then ty’d him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie(1).
VIII
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell’d him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn’d him o’er and o’er.
IX
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim,
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim
X
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appear’d,
They toss’d him to and fro.
XI
They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a Miller us’d him worst of all,
For he crush’d him between two stones.
XII
And they hae taen his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
XIII
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise,
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise.
XIV
‘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.
XV
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!
traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
C’erano tre re dall’oriente,
tre grandi re e potenti
e fecero un voto solenne:
John Barleycorn deve morire.
II
Presero un aratro e lo ararono,
gettarono zolle di terra sulla sua testa
e fecero un voto solenne
John Barleycorn era morto.
III
Ma la dolce primavera venne
e la pioggia scese dal cielo
John Barleycorn si alzò di nuovo
e lasciò tutti di stucco
IV
Venne il sole afoso d’Estate,
e lui crebbe robusto e forte
con la testa irta di lance appuntite
e che nessuno gli dia torto.
V
L’Autunno serio arrivò mite
allora lui divenne pallido e smorto
piegato alle giunture e la testa cadente
aveva incominciato a deperire.
VI
Il suo incarnato sbiadiva sempre più,
lui iniziò a invecchiare
e i suoi nemici cominciarono
a mostrare la loro furia mortale.
VII
Avevano preso una falce, lunga e affilata,
per tagliarlo al ginocchio;
poi lo legarono in fretta su un carro
come un ladro per il patibolo.
VIII
Lo hanno adagiato sulla schiena
e colpito con un randello;
lo hanno appeso prima del temporale
e lo hanno rigirato ancora ed ancora.
IX
Hanno riempito una fossa buia
con acqua fino all’orlo
e ci hanno gettato John Barleycorn
lì lo lasciarono a nuotare o ad affondare.
X
Lo hanno gettato sul pavimento
per procurargli ancora più dolore,
e ancora, mentre lui dava segni di vita
lo hanno gettato avanti e indietro.
XI
Hanno bruciato sulla fiamma
il midollo delle sue ossa;
ma il Mugnaio lo trattò peggio di tutti
perché lo pressò tra due pietre
XII
Ed essi avevano preso il suo sangue d’eroe
e lo bevvero rigirando (il bicchiere)
e ancora più lo bevevano
più gioia ricevevano.
XIII
John Barleycorn era un eroe coraggioso
di nobile ardire
perciò se tu assaggerai il suo sangue
il tuo coraggio crescerà.
XIV
Egli fa dimenticare all’uomo il suo dolore,
aumentare ogni sua gioia:
egli fa cantare il cuore della vedova
sebbene abbia le lacrime agli occhi
XV
Allora brindiamo a John Barleycorn
tutti con un bicchiere in mano
e che la sua grande discendenza
non possa mai mancare nella vecchia Scozia!

NOTA
1) i condannati a morte erano trasportati sul luogo del patibolo su di un carro per il pubblico dileggio

Steeleye Span in Below the Salt 1972 (la versione inglese)


I (Spoken)
There were three men
Came from the west
Their fortunes for to tell,
And the life of John Barleycorn as well.
II
They laid him in three furrows deep,
Laid clods upon his head,
Then these three man made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn was dead.
III
The let him die for a very long time
Till the rain from heaven did fall,
Then little Sir John sprang up his head
And he did amaze them all.
IV
They let him stand till the midsummer day,
Till he looked both pale and wan.
The little Sir John he grew a long beard
And so became a man.
CHORUS:
Fa la la la, it’s a lovely day
Fa la la la lay o
Fa la la la, it’s a lovely day
Sing fa la la la lay
V
They have hired men with the scythes so sharp,
To cut him off at the knee,
The rolled him and they tied him around the waist,
They served him barbarously.
VI
They have hired men with the crab-tree sticks,
To cut him skin from bone,
And the miller has served him worse than that,
For he’s ground him between two stones.
VII
They’ve wheeled him here,
they’ve wheeled him there,
They’ve wheeled him to a barn,
And thy have served him worse than that,
They’ve bunged him in a vat.
VIII
They have worked their will on John Barleycorn
But he lived to tell the tale,
For they pour him out of an old brown jug
And they call him home brewed ale(1).
traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I (Parlato)
C’erano tre uomini
che venivano da occidente,
per tentare sia la fortuna
che la vita di John Barleycorn
II
Lo hanno steso in tre solchi profondi
e ricoperto con zolle di terra
e quei tre uomini fecero un giuramento solenne,
John Barleycorn era  morto.
III
Lo lasciarono giacere per un tempo molto lungo, fino a che scese la pioggia dal cielo e il piccolo sir John tirò fuori la sua testa e lasciò tutti di stucco
IV
Lo lasciarono riposare fino al giorno di mezza estate, e fino ad allora lui era sembrato pallido e smorto e al piccolo sir John crebbe una lunga barba e così divenne un uomo
Ritornello
Fa la la la, che bel giorno
canta fa la la la lay
Fa la la la, che bel giorno
canta fa la la la lay
V
Avevano assoldato uomini con falci veramente affilate
per tagliarlo all’altezza del ginocchio,
l’avevano avvolto e legato tutto attorno ai fianchi,
trattandolo nel modo più brutale.
VI
Assoldarono uomini con bastoni uncinati
per strappargli via la pelle dalle  ossa
e il mugnaio lo trattò peggio di tutti
perché lo pressò tra due pietre
VII
Lo hanno spinto qui
lo hanno spinto là
lo hanno spinto in un fienile
e lo trattarono peggio di tutti
perchè lo tapparono per bene dentro un tino
VIII
Hanno fatto la loro volontà su John Barleycorn
ma lui visse per raccontare la sua storia,
che lo hanno versato in un boccale di coccio
e lo hanno chiamato birra fatta in casa!

NOTA
1) la birra si distingueva in origine in “beer” (con il luppolo) e “ale” (senza luppolo). La bevanda più antica del mondo ottenuta dalla fermentazione di vari cereali. I suoi processi di lavorazione partono da una fermentazione spontanea dell’amido (ossia lo zucchero) prevalente componente nei cereali, quando essi vengono a contatto con l’acqua, a causa dei lieviti selvatici contenuti nell’aria. E così come nel pane, alimento femminile, TERRA, ACQUA, ARIA e FUOCO si combinano magicamente per dare vita a un cibo divino che fortifica e inebria.
Il termine inglese di homebrewing ovvero l’arte della birra fatta in casa si traduce in italiano con un’astrusa parola: domozimurgia e domozimurgo è il produttore di birra casalingo in cui domo, è la radice latina per “casa”; zimurgo è colui il quale pratica la “zimurgia“, ovvero la scienza dei processi di fermentazione. Il domozimurgo quindi è colui che tra le proprie mura domestiche, studia, applica e sperimenta le alchimie della fermentazione. Fare la birra per il proprio autoconsumo (compreso quello degli immancabili amici e parenti) è assolutamente legale oltre che divertente e relativamente semplice sebbene non si finisca mai di imparare attraverso lo scambio delle esperienze e la sperimentazione continua

E infine il COLLAGE  delle versioni di Tickawinda, Avalon Rising, John Renbourn, Lanterna Lucis Viriditatis, Xenis Emputae, Travelling Band, Louis Killen, Traffic

FONTI
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/barleycorn.htm
http://www.musicaememoria.com/JohnBarleycorn2.htm
http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/j_barley.htm
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=14888
http://www.omniscrit.com/2013/01/who-was-john-barleycorn-folk-song-and.html

(Cattia Salto – integrazione 2012 e agosto 2013)