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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!
Robert Burns's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org