Monday, November 27, 2017

"Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme" by John C. Mannone

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
John C. Mannone
     After “Scarborough Fair” by Simon & Garfunkel

     Parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme
     She once was a true love of mine

My heart skips
I peek through the trellis—    
But now her new lover is holding her hand
     She once was a true love of mine
I turn away

My heart still skips
I peek through the trellis
     All around, parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme
But the air is not as fresh as it once was.
I cannot turn away

I cannot hold my breath
But I close my eyes
     She once was a true love of mine
But still hear her voice longing for someone else

I hold my breath
I close my eyes
     To parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme
Yet still smell the bittergreen air

My heart skips, I hold my breath,
I don’t want to turn away
I peek through the trellis just one more time
Then close my eyes, for a moment

     I smell parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme
     She once was a true love of mine

Poet’s Notes:  “Scarborough Fair” is a traditional English ballad set in the Yorkshire town of Scarborough. The song relates the tale of a young man who instructs the listener to tell his former love to perform for him a series of impossible tasks, such as making him a shirt without a seam and then washing it in a dry well, adding that if she completes these tasks he will take her back. Often the song is sung as a duet (see the end of the document for the lyrics), with the woman then giving her lover a series of equally impossible tasks, promising to give him his seamless shirt once he has finished. 

I am frequently reminded of the Simon & Garfunkel song around Thanksgiving. I once didn’t know what herbs to use in making stuffing, but “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” seemed a good starting place.

Editor’s Note:  This is a lovely modern take on the balladic form.  I enjoy the way John works the lyrics and the feel of one of my favorite songs into it.  An extended version of “Scarborough Fair” may be enjoyed here, or a shorter version here

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