Barley Break. From Brand's Antiquities, 1841, II.237.


........She went abroad thereby,

A BARLEY-BREAK her sweet swift feet to try.

Afield they go, where many lookers be,

Then couple three be straight allotted there,

They of both ends the middle two do fly,

The two that in mid place, Hell called, were,

Must strive with waiting foot, and watching                                                        

To catch of them, and them to hell to bear,

That they, as well as they, Hell may supply:

Like some that seek to salve their blotted name

Will others blot, till all do taste of shame.

There you may see, soon as the middle two

Do coupled, towards either couple make,

They, false and fearful do their hands undo;

Brother his brother, friend doth friend forsake,

Heeding himself, cares not how fellows do,

But if a stranger mutual help doth take;

As perjured cowards in adversity,

With sight of fear, from friends to friends do fly.


(Sidney Arc.Bk.I.Song of Lamon.)



Barley-Break, or Last in Hell.


We two are last in Hell: what may we fear

To be tormented, or kept prisoners here:

Alas! if kissing be of plagues the worst,

We'll wish in Hell we had been last and first.


(Robert Herrick 1591-1674. From Hesperides.)



Love, Reason, Hate did once bespeak

Three mates to play at Barley-Break.

Love Folly took; and Reason Fancy:

And Hate consorts with pride, so dance they:

Love coupled last, and so it fell

That Love and Folly were in Hell.


They break; and Love would Reason meet,

But hate was nimbler on her feet;

Fancy looks for Pride, and thither

Hies, and they two hug together;

Yet this new coupling still doth tell

That Love and Folly were in Hell.


The rest do break again, and Pride

Hath now got Reason on her side;

Hate and Fancy meet and stand

Untouched by Love in Folly's hand;

Folly was dull, but Love ran well,

So Love and Folly were in Hell.


(Suckling 1609-42.)