Scarborough – A Beautiful Northern Seaside Town.

Scarborough is a rather special northern town famous for the old traditional song Scarborough Fair. This old song was adapted by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel who had a huge hit with it.

We went there on a warm but cloudy day. Not a great day for photos but I managed a few and we had a great day.

The tide was out and the vivid green algae-strewn rocks made a great setting.

I loved the beauty of the rock strata.

Then there’s the old buildings – the old hotel and castle ruin on the hill.

So are you going to Scarborough Fair?


Scarborough Faire

A Faire To Remember

words and music by traditional

Are you going to Scarborough Faire?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lived there.
She once was a true love of mine.

Have her make me a cambric shirt
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Without no seams, nor fine needle work.
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Tell her to weave it in a sycamore wood lane.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Gather it up in a basket of flowers
Then she’ll be a true love of mine

Have her wash it in yonder dry well
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Where water ne’er sprung, nor drop of rain fell.
Then she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to to find me an acre of land.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Between the sea foam and over the sand.
Then she’ll be a true love of mine

Plow the land with the horn of a lamb.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Then sow some seeds from north of the dam.
Then she’ll be a true love of mine

Have her reap it with a sickle of leather.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Gather it up in a bunch of heather.
Then she’ll be a true love of mine

If she tells me she can’t, then I’ll reply.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Let me know, that at least she will try.
Then she’ll be a true love of mine

Love imposes impossible tasks
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Though not more than any heart asks.
And I must know she’s true love of mine

When thou has finished thy task.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Come to me my hand for to ask.
For then you’ll be a true love of mine

Additional verses:

Tell her to dry it on yonder thorn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
Which never bore blossom since Adam was born,
And then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Ask her to do me this courtesy,
Parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
And ask for a like favor from me,
And then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Have you been to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
Remember me from one who lives there,
For he once was a true love of mine.

When he has done and finished his work,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
Ask him to come for his cambric shirt,
For then he’ll be a true love of mine.


10 thoughts on “Scarborough – A Beautiful Northern Seaside Town.

  1. I think it’s a great pity for a person whom refers to himself as a writer and to not at least try and give some kind of explanation of the background origins of this song is a short coming.
    Would it not be a good idea to at least try and explain the origins of the song? The reason I ask that is because I find that 99% of people who know the song, like the song, haven’t any ideas really as to what it’s about which is a shame.
    Anyway, this is what I know about it – because I keep notes on this kind of thing as it’s origin stems from an earlier Scottish ballad and that I really appreciate the history of our culture despite a whole load of dwarf-brained lunatics doing their utmost trying to destroy it with “diversity”.
    Were this song written and marketed today it would receive a ban from the politically correct sheep with claims that it is misogynist and sexist.

    The song had it’s origins as far back as 1253.
    In the early 1500’s Henry VIII proclaimed that there would be a fair from mid August until September. This fair was a gathering of merchants and trades people to sell their goods in one place. A trip to Scarborough fair was something like a modern trip to New York City.
    The song is a collection of folk verses that have been sung for more than 600 years. Canticle is written by Art Garfunkel and is an anti-war ballad that is beautifully woven into the traditional folk song. The question is about Scarborough fair though, so I won’t get into the meaning behind Canticle.
    Parsley is given for indigestion. It is good for heartburn, and is used in the song to represent a loving desire. Sage, rosemary and thyme have similar meanings in the song. The use of all four herbs represents a woman’s desire for a man.
    The man gives a list of items that the woman must accomplish before she can have his heart. It appears loving until you read into the list. Every item in the list is impossible to perform. “Tell her to make me a cambric shirt” seems reasonable until it is specified without needlework. Another verse asks for an acre of land between the ocean and the shore.
    The entire list is filled with contempt. This shows that the woman asking for the man’s love is a former lover of the man. He is basically saying that it is impossible for him to ever love her again.

    It seems that the origin of Scarborough Fair will remain hidden in the mists of time. It is clearly an English folksong.

    The actual fair at Scarborough was an annual trading fair which lasted for 45 days starting on August 15. It was granted a charter in 1253, and ran until 1788 when competition from other fairs made it untenable.
    Like any fair, it attracted traders, entertainers and food vendors, along with other hangers-on. The fair peaked in the late 14th century but continued to operate until the end of the 1700s.
    Riddles and impossible tasks date back to prehistory. Ballads with similar impossible tasks are most likely as old. A ballad similar to Scarborough Fair dates from 1670 in the form of The Elfin Knight, a Scottish ballad. We don’t know if the Simon & Garfunkel version of Scarborough Fair was around at that time. We do know that several variants were in existence and the “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” refrain is found in 19th C versions.

    It could be that the song was written after the Fair ceased trading in 1788, adding to the impossible tasks in the song.
    The use of the refrain “Parsley, Sage..” is an enigma. It doesn’t appear to have any connection to the rest of the song. It could be argued that the herbs were for sale at the fair. I think that they are just a variation on “tra la la la” or “hey, nonny, nonny no”.

    EDIT – Traditionally, the herbs have the following associations:
    parsley – festivity
    sage – wisdom & immortality
    rosemary – remembrance
    thyme – courage & strength
    This may have something to do with the choice of herbs for the refrain.

    Quite a number of musicians recorded their version of Scarborough Fair before Simon and Garfunkel.
    It was an old British folk song that Simon learnt from a friend during his stay in England. England is also the same place where “Homeward Bound” was penned.
    It is sung like a duet between a man and a woman, each giving the other impossible tasks to do in order to be his/her true love.
    The lyrics of “Scarborough Fair” appear to have something in common with an obscure Scottish ballad, The Elfin Knight (Child Ballad #2), which has been traced 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”).
    The melody is in Dorian mode, and is very typical of the middle English period.

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