Scarborough Fair

Ballad

Em

Folk

Scarborough Fair is a traditional English ballad written about the town of Scarborough in Yorkshire. It was the direct source of inspiration for Bob Dylan’s love ballad ‘Girl From the North Country’, which strongly resembles ‘Scarborough Fair’ with its poetic structure and rhythmic pattern.

This version of the ballad comes from the 18th century, where the refrain of “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” was added, and is descended from the traditional (certainly pre-17th century) Scottish folk ballad “The Elfin Knight”, wherein an young maiden escapes abduction by an elf by replying to his impossible demands with her own.

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Chords
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Chords  (Alternate Version)
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Sheet Music
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Lyrics

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

(man)
Tell her to make me a cambric shirt
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Without any seam nor needlework
And then she'll be a true love of mine

Tell her to wash it in yonder dry well
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Which never sprung water nor rain ever fell
And then she'll be a true love of mine

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
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And ask for a like favour from me
And then she'll be a true love of mine


(both)
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

(woman)
Ask him to find me an acre of land
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Between the salt water and the sea-sand
For then he'll be a true love of mine

Ask him to plough it with a lamb's horn
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And sow it all over with one peppercorn
For then he'll be a true love of mine

Ask him to reap it with a sickle of leather
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And gather it up with a rope made of heather
For then he'll be 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

(both)
If you say that you can't, then I shall reply
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Oh, Let me know that at least you will try
Or you'll never be a true love of mine

Love imposes impossible tasks
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
But none more than any heart would ask
I must know you're a true love of mine