Love Imposes Impossible Tasks…

I say about nearly every place I visit that “I’ve long wanted to go there”. Be it York, the Welsh castles, or even London, I’d long wanted to go there by the time I finally went. I should probably stop saying this because I want to go to so many places that it’s only natural that by the time I do I will have been wanting to go for some time.

Speaking of Scarborough, I was obviously aware of it as a medieval landmark and also as the place commemorated in the famous song, “Scarborough Fair“. The song was popularised by the American singers/songwriters, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and appeared on their 1966 album. We may imagine that for some listeners this is a Simon&Garfunkel song, but in fact this is an “authentic” medieval song.

The video below is again produced with my own photos. Over at Yahoo! Geocities page by Bert you can read a lot about “Scarborough Fair”, with some interesting conclusions. If you’re a German reader, then this is the page for you, which also contains the known interpretations of the song. On either page you will find a short history of Scarborough and its famous fair, of Simon&Garfunkel version, and the full text of the song with the short analysis of the lyrics and its meaning. Particular attention is paid to the meaning of the herbs: parsley (soothing power), sage (strength), rosemary (faithfulness), and thime (courage). One thing I will say, is that I’d not be misled by the fact that

the singer is asking his love to do the impossible, and then come back to him and ask for his hand. This is a highly unusual suggestion, because in those days it was a grave faux-pas to people from all walks of life for a lady to ask for a man’s hand.

If we suppose that the lover is offended by his beloved, then getting her to do the impossible is a rather natural way of taking the revenge. The last two lines seem to support this reading: the lover asks for the impossible as the way to prove to himself and to his beloved that she is indeed his true love.

Love imposes impossible tasks
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Though not more than any heart asks
And I must know she’s a true love of mine.

Dear, when thou has finished thy task
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Come to me, my hand for to ask
For thou then art a true love of mine.


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