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26. John Barleycorn: A Ballad

 THERE was three kings into 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 began 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 turned him o’er and o’er.
They filled up a darksome pit With water to the brim; They heaved in John Barleycorn, There let him sink or swim.
They laid him out upon the floor, To work him farther woe; And still, as signs of life 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!

Poem by Robert Burns
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