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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Author Unknown

Sir John Barleycorn

THERE came three men out of the West,

Their victory to try;

And they have taken a solemn oath

Poor Barleycorn should die.

They took a plow and plowed him in,

And harrowed clods on his head;

And then they took a solemn oath

Poor Barleycorn was dead.

There he lay sleeping in the ground

Till rain from the sky did fall;

Then Barleycorn sprung up his head,

And so amazed them all.

There he remained till midsummer,

And looked both pale and wan;

Then Barleycorn he got a beard,

And so became a man.

Then they sent men with scythes so sharp,

To cut him off at knee;

And then poor little Barleycorn

They served him barbarously:

Then they sent men with pitchforks strong,

To pierce him through the heart;

And, like a dreadful tragedy,

They bound him to a cart.

And then they brought him to a barn,

A prisoner, to endure;

And so they fetched him out again,

And laid him on the floor:

Then they set men with holly clubs

To beat the flesh from his bones;

But the miller he served him worse than that,

For he ground him betwixt two stones.

Oh, Barleycorn is the choicest grain

That ever was sown on land!

It will do more than any grain

By the turning of your hand.

It will make a boy into a man,

And a man into an ass;

It will change your gold into silver,

And your silver into brass:

It will make the huntsman hunt the fox,

That never wound his horn;

It will bring the tinker to the stocks,

That people may him scorn;

It will put sack into a glass,

And claret in the can;

And it will cause a man to drink

Till he neither can go nor stan’.