Scottish Poetry Selection
- Address to the Barley Seed

Here is an entertaining way to learn how golden barley is turned into golden John Barleycorn (whisky) - including some of the technical terms. Perhaps the only aspect missing is the debt owed to pure Highland water.

      Address to the Barley Seed

When the Lord first planted oot the earth wi' trees an' flo'ers an' weeds,
   He scattered roon' Speyside a puckle barley seeds;
Thus was the birth o' Scotia's brew on that fair springtime morn,
   For in the month that followed, John Barleycorn was born.

The threshin' plant had scarce made off, the golden grain was cairted,
   Syne bags for siller were exchanged an' industry was started.
O barley seed, had ye but known the fate that lay before ye,
   The very day in which ye breared ye'd ha'e telt die earth tae smo'er ye.

Regardless o' yer injured pride, yer golden grains sae gleamin',
   They ran ye on conveyor belts that in a steep were teemin',
An' there ye lay for 'oors on end, sae soakin' an' sae sodden.
   Syne they spread ye oot tae dry, trampled on an' trodden.

Frae there they took ye tae the kiln, ye thocht they'd only toast ye.
   They held on coke an' peats until, ye thocht, 'My God, they'll roast me!'
They sent ye tae the millroom an' they hackit an' they cut ye.
   Syne they sent ye aff again, in the Glory Hole they shut ye.

An' so ye cam' tae the day o' days when the mashman started mashin';
   They pushed ye doon the hopper in tae the mashtun splashin';
They soaked ye in the bilin' bree an' drained the watter aff;
   They sheeled ye doon the drag hole an' noo yer only draff.

O whit a come doon tae yer pride, wee golden barley seed,
   Tae think ye'd land in sic a soss for the sake o' human greed.
Tae think that once yer golden grains were shimmerin' in the breeze
   An' noo yer lyin' stinkin' like ony mouldy cheese.

But ye've ae consolation that canna fail tae cheer ye,
   For noo there's millions love ye, aye, an' millions also fear ye.
Noo ye're in a bottle, in the world ye stand supreme -
   The world wad gang doon on its knees tae ye O Mountain Cream.

They preach ye frae the pulpit, an' mony a woman's cursed ye,
   Aye, an' mony a cheel when he threw the mash wad cherish ye and nurse ye.
Ye bring a sparkle tae the e'e, ye also bring a tear,
   Ye've saved a life, ye've caused a death, ye inspire baith pluck an' fear.
In solace noo, wee barley seed, or is it barley bree?
   I'd like tae say that ilka day my hand gangs oot for ye,
At seven o' clock each mornin', at five o'clock each nicht.
   If I should fail tae find ye, I'd drap doon deid wi' fricht.

Meaning of unusual words:
puckle=small amount
breared=first shoots of grain
hackit=chop up
sheeled=took out the husk
draff=refuse of the malt after brewing
sic a soss=such a thud
barley bree=malt liquor, whisky

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