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Главная » 2010 » Октябрь » 16 » Scarborough Fair
Scarborough Fair

Scarborough Fair

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Scarborough Fair" was a traditional English fair, and is a traditional English ballad.

During the late Middle Ages the seaside town of Scarborough was an important venue for tradesmen from all over England. It was host to a huge 45-day trading event, starting August 15, which was exceptionally long for a fair in those times. Merchants came to it from all areas of England, Norway, Denmark, the Baltic states and theByzantine Empire. Scarborough Fair originated from a charter granted by King Henry III of England on 22 January 1253. The charter, which gave Scarborough many privileges, stated "The Burgesses and their heirs forever may have a yearly fair in the Borough, to continue from the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Maryuntil the Feast of St Michael next following". (On the modern Roman Catholic calendar, the equivalent dates are August 15 to September 29.) Naturally, such a large occasion attracted a lot more than just tradesmen; they needed to be entertained and fed, therefore large crowds of buyers, sellers and pleasure-seekers attended the fair. Prices were determined by ‘Supply and demand’, with goods often being exchanged through the barter system. Records show that from 1383 Scarborough's prosperity slumped.[edit]
The fair

In the early 17th century competition from other towns' markets and fairs and increasing taxation saw further collapse of the Fair until it eventually became financially untenable. The market was revived again in the 18th century, but due to intense competition Scarborough Fair finally ended in 1788.

The traditional "Scarborough Fair" no longer exists but a number of low-key celebrations take place every September to mark the original event. Scarborough Fair in July 2006 witnessed Medieval Jousting Competitions, hosted by English Heritage in addition to the usual attractions.

[edit]The ballad

The song tells the tale of a young man, who tells the listener to ask his former lover to perform for him a series of impossible tasks, such as making him a shirt without a seam and then washing it in a dry well, adding that if she completes these tasks he will take her back. Often the song is sung as a duet, with the woman then giving her lover a series of equally impossible tasks, promising to give him his seamless shirt once he has finished.

As the versions of the ballad known under the title "Scarborough Fair" are usually limited to the exchange of these impossible tasks, many suggestions concerning the plot have been proposed, including the hypothesis that it is a song about the Plague. In fact, "Scarborough Fair" appears to derive from an older (and now obscure)Scottish balladThe Elfin Knight (Child Ballad #2),[1] which has been traced at least as far back as 1670 and may well be earlier. In this ballad, an elf threatens to abduct a young woman to be his lover unless she can perform an impossible task ("For thou must shape a sark to me / Without any cut or heme, quoth he"); she responds with a list of tasks that he must first perform ("I have an aiker of good ley-land / Which lyeth low by yon sea-strand").

As the song spread, it was adapted, modified, and rewritten to the point that dozens of versions existed by the end of the 18th century, although only a few are typically sung nowadays. The references to "Scarborough Fair" and the refrain "parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme" date to 19th century versions, and the refrain may have been borrowed from the ballad Riddles Wisely Expounded, (Child Ballad #1), which has a similar plot.


Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine.
Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Without no seam nor needle work,
Then she'll be a true love of mine.
Tell her to find me an acre of land,
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Between the salt water and the sea strand,
Then she'll be a true love of mine.
Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather,
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
And to gather it all in a bunch of heather,
Then she'll be a true love of mine.
Are you going to Scarborough fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine.

[edit]Meaning of the refrain

Much thought has gone into attempts to explain the refrain "parsleysagerosemary and thyme", although, as this is found only in relatively recent versions, there may not be much to explain. The oldest versions of "The Elfin Knight" (circa 1650) contain the refrain "my plaid away, my plaid away, the wind shall not blow my plaid away" (or variations thereof), which may reflect the original emphasis on the lady's chastity. Slightly younger versions often contain one of a group of related refrains:

  • Sober and grave grows merry in time
  • Every rose grows merry with time
  • There's never a rose grows fairer with time

These are usually paired with "Once she was a true love of mine" or some variant. "Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme" may simply be an alternate rhyming refrain to the original. Folksong scholar Märta Ramsten states that folksong refrains containing enumerations of herbs — spices and medical herbs — occur in many languages, including Swedish, Danish, German, and English (and also in the "regional language" of Lombardy, Italy: "ravanei, remulass, barbabietul e spinass" i.e. "radish, horseradish, beet and spinach").

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme may also refer to the pagan belief that together these four spices can be a love charm. One version of the ballad has a fair young knight, Remmie, who has been given a potion of the four herbs by a lady named Scarlett; parsley for lust, sage for wisdom, rosemary for remembrance and thyme to make her irresistible to him. In this version the couple are trying to meet at Scarborough Fair, but adverse circumstances continue to get in their way. But their perseverance, determination and deep love win out in the end and they do find each other.[citation needed]

The song is also believed [2] to reference the black plague. With parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme being four spices used to ward off the smell of the dead or dying. It was popular belief in Medieval times that the smell of the plague(s) was responsible for infecting somebody and that herbs could be used to cleanse air. Additionally, in one of the lines the singer asks for "a cambric shirt... without a seam" or a death cloth to cover the singer once he/she dies.[citation needed] Sage, rosemary, and thyme are also common ingredients used in Four Thieves Vinegar, said to protect a group of thieves from the plague.

[edit]Commercial versions


The melody was used throughout director Fritz Lang's 1941 film Man Hunt starring Walter PidgeonJoan Bennett and George Sanders.

[edit]Simon & Garfunkel

"Scarborough Fair/Canticle"
Single by Simon & Garfunkel
from the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
ReleasedFebruary 1968 (Single release. LP release Oct 10, 1966)
Format7" single
RecordedDecember 1965 -
August 1966
GenreFolk rock
LabelColumbia Records
ProducerBob Johnston
Simon & Garfunkel singles chronology
"Fakin' It"
"Scarborough Fair/Canticle"
"Mrs. Robinson"

The arrangement made famous by Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" originated in the mid-20th century. Paul Simon learned it in 1965 in London from Martin Carthy. Then Art Garfunkel set it in counterpoint with "Canticle", a reworking of Simon's 1963 song "The Side of a Hill" with new, anti-war lyrics. It was the lead track of the 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, and was released as a single after being featured on the soundtrack to The Graduate in 1968. Thecopyright credited only Simon and Garfunkel as the authors, causing ill-feeling on the part of Carthy, who felt the "traditional" source should have been credited. This rift remained until Simon invited Carthy to duet the song with him at a London concert in 2000.

Prior to Simon's learning the song, Bob Dylan had borrowed the melody and several lines from Carthy's arrangement in creating his song, "Girl from the North Country", which appeared on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963), Nashville Skyline(1969) (together with Johnny Cash), Real Live (1984) and The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (1993).

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