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

Blake’s Cradle Song

 “Sono gli uomini stessi che hanno mercificato la propria esistenza, pervertito le relazioni interpersonali in cambio di cose”. W. Blake

Poet and visionary artist, painter and engraver, precursor of Romanticism William Blake invented the monotype image with water-based colors for his prints, publishing his books by himself.
Blake is not an easy man, he is proud, polemical and contrary to current fashions, both in the arts and in philosophical ideas. He lives his whole life in poverty, his social relationships are very complicated and conflicting; he hates the fashion of his time, hates war, believing that the arts can only be born in peaceful states, he hates those who fight it (remember the words shouted at a soldier: “Damn the king, damn all his subjects, damn his soldiers, they are all slaves “). Blake has always fight against the academy, against education that oppresses the imagination by rejecting the “elegant” education that produces artificiality (transalted from here)

[Poeta e artista visionario pittore e incisore, precursore del Romanticismo William Blake inventò l’immagine monotipo con colori a base di acqua per le sue stampe, pubblicandosi da solo i suoi libri.]
“Blake non è un uomo facile, è orgoglioso, polemico e contrario alle mode correnti, tanto nelle arti, quanto nelle idee filosofiche.Trascorre tutta la sua vita in povertà, i suoi rapporti sociali sono molto complicati e conflittuali; odia la moda del suo tempo, odia la guerra, ritenendo che le arti possano nascere solo in Stati Pacifici, odia quindi chi la combatte (si ricordi le parole urlate ad un soldato: “Dannazione al Re, e dannazione a tutti i soldati, essi sono tutti schiavi”). Blake si è sempre dimostrato contro l’accademia, contro l’educazione che opprime l’immaginazione rifiutando l’educazione “elegante” che produce artificiosità.” (tratto da qui)]

In opposition to the sacred codes that identify evil with the body and good with the soul Blake states that Evil is physical energy, desire beyond all morality, so it overcomes the body-soul dichotomy: Man does not possess a Body distinct from the Soul. Energy is the only life and proceeds from the body; and Reason is the boundary or outer circumference of energy. Energy is Eternal Delight.
[In opposizione ai sacri codici che identificano il male con il corpo e il bene con l’anima Blake afferma che il Male è energia fisica, desiderio al di là di ogni morale, così supera la dicotomia anima-corpo: L’Uomo non possiede un Corpo distinto dall’Anima. L’Energia è la sola vita e procede dal Corpo; e la Ragione è il confine o Circonferenza esterna dell’Energia. L’Energia è Delizia Eterna.]

William Blake, Pietà,1895

A CRADLE SONG

“A Cradle song” is one of nineteen poems from his collection Songs of Innocence (1789).
The “Songs of Innocence” speak of childhood as a symbol of innocence, a state of human being connected with happiness, imagination and freedom. Written in a simple and musical language even if they are not accompanied by the melody, the poems have certainly been conceived as songs.
[“A Cradle song” è una delle diciannove poesie della sua raccolta Songs of Innocence (1789).
I “Canti dell’Innocenza” parlano dell’infanzia quale simbolo dell’innocenza, uno stato d’essere umano connesso con la felicità, l’immaginazione e la libertà. Scritte in un linguaggio semplice e musicale anche se non sono accompagnate dalla melodia, le poesie sicuramente sono state concepite come canti.]

Many contemporary artists have put poetic verses in music, reported here in no particular order (and omitting the classic version of Benjamin Britten).
[Molti artisti contemporanei hanno messo in musica i versi poetici, qui riportati in ordine sparso (e omettendo la versione classica di Benjamin Britten).]

The Alan Tyler Show 2015
voice of Emma Tricca, music composed and arranged by the guitarist Alan Tyler, I really like the shuffling way of singing the verses, a very engaging melody
[voce di Emma Tricca, musica composta e arrangiata dal chitarrista Alan Tyler, mi piace molto il modo strascicato di cantare i versi, una melodia molto coinvolgente]

Allen Ginsberg, in Holy Soul Jelly Roll, 1994
music by Allen Ginsberg · Arthur Russell · Peter Hornbeck · Jon Meyer

Sting in If on a Winter’s Night, 2009 (I, II; from V to IX)
music by Vaughan Williams

Blake in “Heathen & Heaven” (2015)
the French group was founded in 2008 with the aim of putting the poems of William Blake into music; I’m Gaël (vocals, guitar), Clément (contrabass), Virginie (vocals), Gaétan (violin)
[il gruppo francese nasce nel 2008 con l’intento di mettere in musica le poesie di William Blake; sono Gaël (voce, ghitarra), Clément (contrabbasso), Virginie (voce), Gaétan (violino)]

Pierre-Gilles Bovy in The Echoing Green
still a Frenchman in business with his electro-rock group since 2011
[ancora un francese in attività con il suo gruppo electro-rock dal 2011]

La Barbe Bleue − Cradle Song


I
Sweet dreams, form a shade
O’er my lovely infant’s head
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
By happy, silent, moony beams
II
Sweet Sleep, with soft down
Weave thy brows an infant crown
Sweet Sleep, Angel mild
Hover o’er my happy child
III
Sweet smiles in the night,
Hover over my delight.
Sweet smiles Mothers smiles,
All the livelong night beguiles.
IV
Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thy eyes,
Sweet moans, sweeter smiles,
All the dovelike moans beguiles.
V
Sleep, sleep, happy child
All creation slept and smil’d
Sleep, sleep, happy sleep
While o’er thee thy mother weep
VI
Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy image I can trace
Sweet babe once like thee
Maker lay and wept for me
VIII
Wept for me, for thee, for all
When He was an infant small
Thou His image ever see
Heavenly face that smiles on thee
IX
Smiles on thee, on me, on all
Who became an infant small
Infant smiles are His own smiles;
Heaven and earth to peace beguiles (1)
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto *
I
Dall’oscurità, sogni beati
sul mio bimbo addormentato.
Dolci sogni, sgorgano lieti
da raggi di luna silenti.
II
Dolce sonno, di soffice piuma
incorona il bimbo nella culla.
Dolce sonno, Angelo mite,
proteggi il mio bimbo felice.
III
Nella notte, dolci sorrisi,
schiudetegli il paradiso.
Sorrisi dolci, materni sorrisi,
tutta la notte sempre sorrisi.
IV
Gemiti dolci, sospiri leggeri
non cacciate il sonno dai suoi pensieri.
Gemiti dolci, sorrisi beati
come dolci colombe alate.
V
Dormi, dormi bimbo felice
tutto il creato dorme e sorride
Dormi, dormi, dormi felice
mentre su di te tua madre piange
VI
Dolce bimbo, sul tuo volto
un santo viso ho colto.
Un bimbo dolce come te
il tuo Creatore, pianse per me
VIII
Per me, per te, per tutti pianse,
quand’era bimbo ancora in fasce.
Sempre vedrai il suo volto,
celeste sorriso a te rivolto
IX
A te, a me, a tutti sorride.
Colui che bimbo un dì si fece.
Di ogni bimbo il sorriso é la sua luce,
cieli e terra alla pace riconduce.

NOTE
* traduzione rielaborata da qui
1)  The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns [“Le religioni oscure finiscono, e la dolce scienza regna”.]

LINK
http://elenanigro.blogspot.it/2008/05/william-blake.html
https://wsimag.com/it/arte/18924-immagini-mono-a-tipiche

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)