Monday, December 5, 2011

John Barleycorn Must Die (screenprint)

John Barleycorn Must Die (screenprint)

'John Barleycorn (must die)' is a traditional British folksong. The character of John Barleycorn in the song is the personification of Barley, and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, namely Beer and Whisky. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death and other indignities that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting. Although killed over and again, his Spirit lives on!

Earliest printed versions of the song date back as far as the 16th Century, but the best known re-telling is Robert Burns' poem of 1782, a verse or two of which are included at the foot of my print. John Barleycorn Must Die was also the name of British rock band Traffic's fourth album, released in 1970.

The pose Sir John takes upon the barrel is a reference to traditional representations of Bacchus or Dionysis (God of Wine) a-stride a keg, glass or tankard raised, dripping tap between his legs, oblivious.

The print measures 29.7 cm wide by 42 cm deep (A3), and is printed in 2 colours in a limited edition of 50. He is available to buy at £45 (a snip), plus Postage & Packing, from my Etsy shop - - along with many other treasures!

'Then let us toast John Barleycorn, each man a glass in hand!'