Sea foam and sea sand

Whenever I saw the waves coming up on the beach I think of the woman’s response in the English folk song Scarborough fair:

Will you find me an acre of land?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Between the sea foam and the sea sand.
Or never be a true love of mine.

Will you plough it with a lamb’s horn.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
And sow it all over with one peppercorn,
Or never be a true love of mine.

Will you reap it with a sickle of leather.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
And tie it all up with a peacock’s feather.
Or never be a true love of mine.

When you’ve done and finished your work.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Then come to me for your cambric shirt.
And you shall be a true love of mine.

Reference: Mel Bay presents Songs of England by Jerry Silverman

Information about the song with alternative lyrics.


Both websites assume that the song is about the Fair at Scarborough, but I wonder if a different interpretation was that it meant fair as in “pleasing to the eye or mind especially because of fresh, charming, or flawless quality”. This use of fair was used in Yorkshire when I lived there.


3 thoughts on “Sea foam and sea sand

  1. I did not know the lady had a response in Scarborough. See, now I’ve learned something for the morning. 🙂

  2. I was fascinated by the beaches of the Florida Gulf of Mexico from early childhood. As a pre-K and kindergartener in the 1950s I roamed up and down the beach strand picking up colorful shells till my pants pockets bulged. Hyperactive Donax bivalves were emerging from the edge of the water and knocking about, filter-feeding, with the wash of each small wave. At Sanibel Island, Florida in the 1960s I saw shell windrows two feet deep at the southern end of the island by the lighthouse. While sitting in a few inches of water by the shore at our Sanibel accommodations I filtered sand through my fingers and found brittle stars in great numbers just below the sand-water interface. Along the Atlantic in Delaware and North Carolina I looked closely at gravel zones in the sand and found Paleozoic fossils washed down from the Appalachians in the form of polished bits of silicified tabulate corals with their honeycomb pattern and bryozoan colonies in rock. At Atlantic Beach, North Carolina late Tertiary shark teeth turn up in shell windrows, and pieces of lower Miocene Trent limestone litter the beach with fossil bivalve molds. I do not even know what kind of person I would be if my parents had raised me within a steaming ant’s nest of a concrete and asphalt city away from fields, woods and seashores.

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