"Scarborough Fair / Canticle" as written by Arthur Garfunkel, Paul Simon and Dp,....
Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt (deep forest green)
Parsley sage rosemary and thyme
Without no seams nor needle work (blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain)
Then she'll be a true love of mine (sleeps unaware of the clarion call)

Tell her to find me an acre of land (a sprinkling of leaves)
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (washes the grave with silvery tears)
Between the salt water and the sea strand (A soldier cleans and polishes a gun)
She'll be a true love of mine

Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather (War bellows blazing in scarlet battalions)
Parsley sage rosemary and thyme (General order their soldiers to kill)
And gather it all in a bunch of heather (And to fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten)
Then she'll be a true love of mine

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


Lyrics submitted by kevin

"Scarborough Fair/Canticle" as written by Paul Simon Arthur Garfunkel

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Scarborough Fair / Canticle song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentThis is a song about war, and love, and remembrance. It is a very sad and beautiful song. It demonstrates that the pain of war can be felt at home and abroad. I like to believe the main line "Are you going to Scarborough Fair" is a conversation being held at a crossroad between our world and the world beyond. The soldier who has died can't seem to find his way home and desperately tries to send word to the woman he loves in Scarborough to tell her to prepare for his return. But, he is in a sort of limbo to walk the earth and to never find his way, while she has to learn to live without her one true love.
    Shecky65on September 23, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Commenti love this song, it's really eerie, but in a great way...my fave S&G song behind The Sound Of Silence
    frozen_in_fireon December 18, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentDisregarding the anti-war verses sung in between, this song is about a man who left his lover in Scarborough Fair. He finds out that someone is going there. Hence, he tries to describe his lover to him, and finds no better way than asking her to do for him impossible tasks that only his true love would try. After reading Boss Man's comment, I would go with what he says, that the girl is a witch, so the way to find her is by asking her to use magic to do impossible tasks. I would like to think that she is not a witch, and that the guy either idealizes her as a goddess, or believes that only his true love would do the impossible for him.
    cameliuson October 09, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentOkay, I think there's more to it than anyone has mentioned. Paul Simon took the old song about Scarborough and added the Canticle part to completely change the meaning of the song to an antiwar theme. Think of this and reread the lyrics--the speaker is a soldier who has been mortally wounded in battle. He left his girlfriend in Scarborough, and is unsure of the status of the relationship. He tells the listener to find her and ask her to perform these tasks (last rites, maybe--maybe the cambric shirt is a bodybag?) If she does, then he will know (posthumously) that she really does love him. It shows how war is a foolish waste of young life. The contrast and balance between the two songs reflects the contrast between the endless possibilities of young love and the futility of war.
    edguidryon December 30, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPROOF OF ANTI WAR

    all lines such as "generals order their soldiers to kill" and "a soldier cleans and polishes a gun" are sung extremely minor.

    Also this line, even without it's minor key, must serve as evidence. "And to fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten". HE is stating that the soldiers are fighting for a cause they've forgotten. THey are not fighting for the cause, they are fighting because they gotta.

    Paul Simon=genius.
    erriganon October 11, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti was told that the song was originally the way byebyebirdie58 said it, as a duet. to me, its about two people who loved one another but broke each others hearts somehow. the two speakers still loved one another but also knew they could no longer be together due to what happened so they tell each other (via the messenger) that the other person can come back to them if they do some impossible task which they know they will not be able to do, showing that they still love the other person but they'll never be together again. thats just the way i have come to see it
    StrayDogFreedom2on March 31, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationNO, NO, NO,
    This song is a traditional English Ballad, in it's original form, "the Simon an Garfunkel version tend to water it down a bit" it's about two ex lovers who set out an impossible task for each other and if accomplished, would take each other back.

    Tell her to make me a cambric shirt:
    Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
    Without no seams nor needle work,
    Then she'll be a true love of mine.

    How in bloody Hell can you make any shirt "without no seams nor needle work" it's impossible! But that's the point. Notice that it then says "then She'll be a true love of mine". Next,

    Tell her to find me an acre of land:
    Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
    Between the salt water and the sea strand,
    Then she'll be a true love of mine.

    In other words find an acre of land between water and land hmm well let's see that's right where the water meets land right? Last I checked you either got an acre of water or an acre of land. It simply can't be done! And last but not least.

    Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather:
    Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
    And gather it all in a bunch of heather,
    Then she'll be a true love of mine.

    For those of you who don't know, a sickle is a hand held hook shaped blade used in the olden days to reap a harvest. Now he's telling her to use a sickle made of leather to reap the harvest, that's like telling someone to put steel tyres on their car and run a lap round the nurburgring! Shure theoretically it can be done but it would take forever!
    As for the other stuff well it's all about self pity the way one feels after they break up with someone the care about. You know can't go back but it doesnt take away the pain this is most prevalent in this verse;

    War bellows blazing in scarlet battalions.
    General order their soldiers to kill.
    And to fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten

    When you've broke off with someone you love, sometimes the reasons are stronger at first but then you have a hard time remembering why you hate them "and to fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten"
    So to sum it up I believe this song is a mix of old time ballad and new time folk with the same message just mended slightly in the old version it was made clear that he didn't want her he didn't love her in this version we get to see between the cracks we get to see that its more of a front a tough guy face if you will. And that perhaps maybe given the right set of circumstances it may have worked out.
    And on that bombshell it's time to end Goodnight!
    JeremyClarksonon January 16, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General Commentan informative link on this song:
    geocities.com/paris/villa/3895/
    polkadoton February 27, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is about a man deeply in love with his girlfriend,however he being sent away to fight in the war.the parts that are whispered through the song is his ghost singing about the past,and the plans they had made together before he went away.he has been killed at war.this song is so sad and beautifully written.
    scottyzeppelinon June 08, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is the essential oil recipe for curing Bubonic Plague! All the medicinal properties of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme add-up to relief of the plague’s deadly symptoms. So, apropos of the song’s melancholy, “she once was a true love of mine”… who died.
    piratesmileon November 14, 2009   Link

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