John Barleycorn

Has Made Too Free With John Barleycorn: also A date with John Barleycorn; Loaded with John Barleycorn: Barleycorn is the long-established personification of beer, whiskey, and other intoxicating drinkds made from Malted barley. Dating to at least 1620, it owes its popularity to Robert Burns, who used the expression freely throughout the body of his poetry. In the poem “John Barleycorn,” Burns uses the processing of the grain to produce whiskey as a symbol of man’s life, death, and rebirth. The personified “john barleycorn” is reaped, ground, roasted, and distilled; his life’s blood is drunk by the men of Scotland bringing them happiness and boldness; finally:

But the cheerful spring came kindly on And show’rs began to fall; John Barleycorn got up again, And sore surprised them all.

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