John Barleycorn

Really chuffed to have been able to do an illustration for issue 6 of AMMO magazine.

Off on another folky theme, I chose to illustrate the character John Barleycorn. He’s a staple of traditional music and personifies both the crop of barley and the important beer and spirits made from it!

The stories in the songs are varied, but they all celebrate John’s growth despite being poked, prodded, left in the sun and generally abused:

They’ve hired men with the sharp-edged scythes to cut him off at the knee
They’ve rolled him and tied him around the waist, treated him most barbarously
They’ve hired men with the sharp-edged forks to prick him to the heart
And the loader has served him worse than that for he’s bound him to the cart

Regardless, John grows up to be a strapping fellow and the tales mostly end with a note of celebration at the fact that without liqour, and without poor John , everything falls apart…

And the huntsman he can’t hunt the fox nor loudly blow his horn
And the tinker he can’t mend his pots without John Barleycorn


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