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If my name was Peabody and your name was Sherman, then right about now I'd be telling you to get into the Wayback Machine and set the dial for waaaaaay back to merry old England in the '50s The charter stated, "The Burgesses and their heirs forever may have a yearly fayre in the Borough, to continue from the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary until the Feast of St Michael next following". For a brief time, the Scarborough Fair was a big deal; however, it wasn't a medieval fair like we picture as a place to go specifically for amusement.
This monumentous occasion drew impressively large crowds.
In its heyday, we might say that a trip to Scarborough Fair would be the equivalent of taking a modern-day trip to, say, New York City. It had everything anyone could need, and from August September 29, it was England's hot spot.
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It was the place to be. Of course, since many hundreds of people from far and near attended to sell their wares, naturally there also came those who sold food and various amenities to those who were far from home. In fact, the song predates them by about, oh, say at least years; the tune and lyrics appeared somewhere around The song that was sung by this epic duo was actually a song that was written and sung by medieval bards throughout the English countryside.
Because of the nature of song at the time, there is no single author credited with the song's inception. It was a folk tune that soon caught on with the local populous, and it became a tradition for the common folk to sing about participating in this auspicious occasion. As is true with most folk music, as time went on more lyrics and verses were added. Although the song, itself, is a song about jilted love, in that respect it has little value for us. However, it does contain lyrics which do have some historical significance and you know how we love that around here!
If you know no other words in the song, you at least know the part that says, "Are you going to Scarborough Fair? It is an herb that is holistically used to treat indigestion. However, during medieval times herbs were believed to have an equivalent spiritual benefit. Indigestion is frequently referred to as "heartburn" because as too many Americans know, it makes the chest hurt in the are near where the heart is found. Due to general lack of understanding the medical sciences, this feeling of indigestion often led folks to believe that their heart hurt.
Thus, parsley was prescribed to heal the hurting heart. The herb, Sage, has long been a symbol of strength. Rosemary represents faithfulness, love, and remembrance. The loving Greeks used to give sprigs of Rosemary to each other, and Greek brides traditionally wore a few sprigs of it in their hair on their wedding day. Rosemary, though, is usually symbolic of feminine love because this herb is very tough and strong, but it grows very slowly. Rosemary is also the symbol for prudence and sensibility.
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Ancient Roman doctors used to put Rosemary underneath the pillow of someone who had to perform a difficult mental job. In the verses that follow, there is a secondary, simultaneous tune which is sung you'll find it in the parentheses. The song that is sung here is "Canticle" which has absolutely nothing to do with Scarborough, a fair, or any culinary herbs. It was written in by Art Garfunkel and is a re-working of the song "The Side of a Hill" and is an anti-war ballad.
Moving on The verses of Scarborough Fair are a list of impossible tasks for the man's sweetie to perform: Verse 1 - She is to make a cambric shirt with no seams or needlework.
Thank you. Hi Beth, did you use the legend in one of your books?. Just asking…faint memory a friend had of coming upon the legend in a novel! This was so helpful, thank you so much! I do have one question though- in the Simon and Garfunkel version, while one singer sings the part you described, another describes a soldier going off to war.
How does this fit in with the theme of true love? Thank you for reading! It is not part of the original song. I have always thought the song to be a test of true love. They ask the impossible, but will you at least try?? To love truly, you will try to make the impossible possible. I teach a class on cooking with fresh herbs and edible flowers and one thing we make is Scarborough Fair Savory Scones. But what Inion will do when she reads it. I often wondered the hidden message behind it.
And this makes perfect freaking sense!!! Lovely post sharing now!! Hey Beth Trissel.
Like Liked by 1 person. Find an acre of land between the salt-water and the sea strand, which starts right at the salt water. This song is massive middle finger to his ex. Good page.
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More the first two syllable version I think with the emphasis on Scar. I find it interesting that the herbs parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme were all abortificants of varying degrees of efficacy. A version of the song that I saw had a 2 more verses. But not anymore than any heart would ask. This song may be a great example of that. Like Liked by 2 people.
Thank you so much!! I read its a hidden message about birth control herbs. It would be considered witch craft so had to be hidden in a song. Rosemary, parsley are known to bring on menstruation so could prevent pregnancy. The scarlet battlefield would mean menstruation. The clarion trumpet to pour the douche…. Folk songs were passed down by aural tradition so that words evolved over time. Substitution of often better lyrics for words sung indistinctly is called a mondegreen.
Thanks dear lady for this interpretation I became familiar with this beautiful song in the late s and it marked the beginning of a new phase in my life, when I came to America. Now that I am in my 70s, I watched the movie again and the song set my heart on fire once more. It makes me a bit sad that more than fifty years have gone by and I am not a young man anymore, but it also tells me that there has been some beauty in my life. I wonder, why did they play the song in The Graduate? I still believe in romance and love. Thanks for your interpretation J.
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Scarborough Fair Canticle - Simon & Garfunkel - Cifra Club
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