Scarborough Fair

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Scarborough Fair
Singer Various Artists

Scarborough Fair is a traditional English ballad.

Info

The song relates the tale of a young man who instructs the listener to tell his former love 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.

Lyrics

There are many versions of the lyrics when the song is spread, here is one traditional version which appeared in 1889.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Remember me to one who lives there,
For once she was a true love of mine.
Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Without any seam or needlework,
Then she shall be a true lover of mine.
Tell her to wash it in yonder well,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Where never spring water or rain ever fell,
And she shall be a true lover of mine.
Tell her to dry it on yonder thorn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Which never bore blossom since Adam was born,
Then she shall be a true lover of mine.
Now he has asked me questions three,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
I hope he'll answer as many for me,
Before he shall be a true lover of mine.
Tell him to buy me an acre of land,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Betwixt the salt water and the sea sand,
Then he shall be a true lover of mine.
Tell him to plough it with a ram's horn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And sow it all over with one pepper corn,
And he shall be a true lover of mine.
Tell him to shear it with a sickle of leather,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And bind it up with a peacock feather,
And he shall be a true lover of mine.
Tell him to thrash it on yonder wall,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And never let one corn of it fall,
Then he shall be a true lover of mine.
When he has done and finished his work,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Oh, tell him to come and he'll have his shirt,
And he shall be a true lover of mine.

Usage in ACG works