Friday, July 10, 2009

John Barleycorn

John Barleycorn
In oak with an oil finish.

I have had this piece of wood for over 10 years. It started life as a threshold piece from the days of being a joiner. Its been a shelf baton and a temporary leg and now has been turned into the latest piece. The carving has been done on the corner of the wood which when attached to the wall has John B looking to one side.

I chose the theme from the color of the wood which is (slightly) barley coloured when in the white (unfinished) and decided to add to the piece and the theme by burning some barley corn coming from the hair. The picture of the piper is there to represent the link to the song.

Down the side of the piece are the lyrics from the song John Barleycorn.......................................... as you guessed in runes.

"There were three men came out of the west their fortunes for to try,

And these three men made a solemn vow, John barleycorn must die,"

The rest of the (Traffic 1970) song is as follows:

They've plowed, they've sown, they've harrowed him in, threw clods upon his head

And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn was dead.

They let him lie for a very long time till the rains from Heaven did fall

And little Sir John sprung up his head and so amazed them all.

They've let him stand till Midsummer's day, till he looked both pale and wan.

And little Sir John's grown a long, long beard and so become a man.

They've hired men with the scythes so sharp, to cut him off at the knee,

They've rolled him and tied him by the waist, serving him most barbarously.

They've hired men with the sharp pitchforks, who pricked him through the heart

And the loader, he has served him worse than that, for he's bound him to the cart.

They've wheeled him around and around a field, till they came unto a barn,

And there they made a solemn oath on poor John Barleycorn

They've hired men with the crab-tree sticks, to cut him skin from bone,

And the miller, he has served him worse than that, for he's ground him between two stones.

And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl and his brandy in the glass

And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last

The huntsman, he can't hunt the fox nor so loudly to blow his horn,

And the tinker, he can't mend kettle nor pots without a little barley corn

"John Barleycorn" is an English folksong The character of John Barleycorn in the song is a personification of the important crop barley, and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whiskey. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation.

I like the song and can play it (badly) on my acoustic guitar. This is my representation of it. He currently looks out of my back door into my garden. I hope you like it?

Dave July 2009


ChuckT said...

Brilliant!! Love this song and your carving captures him wonderfully. Do you have a favorite version of the song? Mine is Fairport Convention's, though I like the Steeleye Span version too. Great idea. Fantastic execution.


Robyn said...

This piece is fantastic! I love the barley and the fact that you've used an old piece of oak...baton? and left evidence of its former life.

Dave Jones said...

Thanks Chuck. 1970 Traffic version is the one I first heard and the first version I hear usually remains my favourite. I will however try to track down the versions you stated and have a listen. Thanks for the comments.

Robyn: A baton 'a piece of wood screwed to a wall to support a shelf'. I am getting a liking for pieces that dont try to disguise their past when recycled; like I am getting to like using squared timber for the carvings. more to come I feel. Thanks for the comment.

ChuckT said...

Of course - Traffic! Forgot about that one. Listening to it now on YouTube. Excellent! Love the flute. I love Fairports version - but it has more of a drinking song feel to it.


Andrea said...

I have just received him as a gift from my daughter! He will be living in Northumberland. I hope he will tell me whreabouts he wants to sit. With any luck he will want to be close to my harvest lady!

Oak is thye most appropriate wood, as he is also a representation of the Oak King, who "dies" at harvest.


Dave Jones said...

Hi Andrea

Fantastic I'm so glad you like him.

Once he's in place take a picture and send it through. I will post him on the blog again in his new home. Oh and I will look up the Oak King too. Regards Dave.