The Graven Image Graphics

More Parsley

Garden Rhymes

The Tale of La Befana

Parsley Sage

Nursery Rhymes

Lakeshore Banners

Other Illustrations

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, is my version of the folk song Scarborough Fair. For many people, probably the 1960s Simon and Garfunkel version is most familiar, but the song itself is very old. The plants of the refrain all have symbolic meaning; for instance, rosemary means remembrance.

In the lyrics, an old lover sends message to his paramour at the great annual Scarborough Fair that he will take her back if she can complete three impossible tasks for him: sew him "a cambric shirt without any seams or fine needlework;" and "wash it in yonder well, that never drew water, nor rain ever fell;" and "hang it on yonder thorn, which never bore blossom since Adam was born."

She then says, "you have asked me questions three, I would ask as many of thee". She then sets three impossible tasks of her own, including finding "an acre of land, between the salt water and the sea sand."

She then sends message that when he has completed these impossible things, that he may come to her for his cambric shirt, and once again be her True Love.

In many tales, impossible tasks are overcome with the help of magic, as, for instance, in Rumplestiltskin, or the Shoemaker and the Elves. Sometimes the task is completed as a form of word play. Here, though, it seems likely that neither True Love really wants to see the tasks completed.

I'm having a great time illustrating "impossible" things.