Robert Burns

(1759-1796 / Ayrshire / Scotland)

John Barleycorn: A Ballad

Poem by Robert Burns

There was three kings unto the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

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.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show'rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris'd them all.

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.

The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show'd he bagan to fail.

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

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

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell'd him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn'd him o'er and o'er.

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

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him further woe;
And still, as signs of life appear'd,
They toss'd him to and fro.

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.

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.

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

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

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!

Form: Ballad


Comments about John Barleycorn: A Ballad by Robert Burns

  • Frank James Ryan Jr...fjrFrank James Ryan Jr...fjr (9/30/2006 8:31:00 AM)

    AWESOME BALLAD, INDEED & ONE IMENSELY ENJOYED BY ME, AS A EARLY 70's ROCK/BALLAD, PERFORMED BY A GROUP CALLED 'TRAFFIC'.
    IY WAS THE TITLE TRACK FROM THE ALBUM 'john barleycorn must die'....
    Never knew who Robert Burns was until today.....Foolishly thought that a friend of the Band, by thname of Burns, wrote the lyrics...only to stumble across this classic work,35 years later...Guess, tis true that you're never too old to learn
    something new....'''''''''''''''''''''''''FJR(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
Read all 1 comments »



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: hero, courage, joy, autumn, summer, ballad, spring, work, water, rose, swimming



Poem Submitted: Sunday, May 13, 2001



[Report Error]