The Sexy Origin of Scarborough Fair

Ok… ok… but… like… oh gods I’ve probably gushed about this before but Scarborough Fair is just part of the verses from the Elfin Knight (circa the 17th century) and the Elfin Knight in some forms is just >>chef’s kiss<<

The Elfin Knight (Lyrics)

“MY plaid awa, my plaid awa,
And ore the hill and far awa,
And far awa to Norrowa,
My plaid shall not be blown awa. (another version has “The wind hath blown my plaid awa.”)

The elphin knight sits on yon hill,
Ba, ba, ba, lilli ba
He blaws his horn both lewd and shril.
The wind hath blown my plaid awa

He blowes it east, he blowes it west,
He blowes it where he lyketh best.

‘I wish that horn were in my kist, (kist meaning “chest”)
Yea, and the knight in my armes two.’

She had no sooner these words said,
When that the knight came to her bed.

‘Thou art over young a maid,’ quoth he,
‘Married with me thou il wouldst be.’ (il meaning “ill” as in “wicked”)

‘I have a sister younger than I,
And she was married yesterday.’

‘Married with me if thou wouldst be,
A courtesie thou must do to me.

‘For thou must shape a sark to me, (a sark would be a fancy shirt, like a cambric shirt in the Scarborough Fair lyrics)
Without any cut or heme,’ quoth he.

‘Thou must shape it knife-and-sheerlesse,
And also sue it needle-threedlesse.’

‘If that piece of courtesie I do to thee,
Another thou must do to me.

‘I have an aiker of good ley-land, (ley-land is unseeded land)
Which lyeth low by yon sea-strand.

‘For thou must eare it with thy horn, (eare means plow)
So thou must sow it with thy corn. (corn means seed)

‘And bigg a cart of stone and lyme
Robin Redbreast he must trail it hame.

‘Thou must barn it in a mouse-hell
And thrash it into thy shoes sell.

‘And thou must winnow it in thy looff
And also seek it in thy glove.

‘For thou must bring it over the sea
And thou must bring it dry home to me.

‘When thou hast gotten thy turns well done
Then come to me and get thy sark then.’

‘I’ll not quite my plaid for my life;
It haps my seven bairns and my wife.’
The wind shall not blow my plaid awa

‘My maidenhead I’ll then keep still,
Let the elphin knight do what he will.’
The wind’s not blown my plaid awa.

A broadside in black letter, ” printed, I suppose,” says Pinkerton, ” about 1610,” bound up with five other pieces at the end of a copy of Blind Harry’s’ Wallace,’ Edin. 1673, in the Pepysian Library.

If you break it down, it’s about a lady who hears a story about (or sees, depending on the version) about a handsome Elfin Knight on a hill and goes “oh, I’d hit that.” so she approaches and makes an offer. And Mr. “I’m too beautiful” says “I get this all the time. I’m bored. You want me then make me an impossible shirt.”

The lady, rightfully offended, says “No problem. But before I do, you need to <lists impossible tasks back at him>” which includes plowing a sandy beach with his dick and planting his seed in the ground, reaping what it grows, and then delivering enough of that final product that the woman is satisfied. The Elfin Knight, blanching, states plainly he’d prefer to keep his dick, since his fate is to have seven kids with his wife.

Of course, I could read it even another way: a “sark” is a term that can be used to describe an undergarment; a cambric shirt is smooth and lustrous and again, worn. So he could be saying “Hey girl… got anything this bad boy’s naked body can slip into?” and her response is “Well, if you want to slip into something, you’ll have to do me here, there, and everywhere.” and her enthusiasm was more than he could bear.

Either interpretation is damn funny.

Overall, it’s an amusingly empowering song that can be sung both to kids and to adults, with plenty of puns to amuse both.

I am in love with it.

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