John Barleycorn HTML version
Back to personal experiences and the effects in the past of John Barleycorn's White Logic
on me. On my lovely ranch in the Valley of the Moon, brain-soaked with many months of
alcohol, I am oppressed by the cosmic sadness that has always been the heritage of man.
In vain do I ask myself why I should be sad. My nights are warm. My roof does not leak.
I have food galore for all the caprices of appetite. Every creature comfort is mine. In my
body are no aches nor pains. The good old flesh-machine is running smoothly on. Neither
brain nor muscle is overworked. I have land, money, power, recognition from the world,
a consciousness that I do my meed of good in serving others, a mate whom I love,
children that are of my own fond flesh. I have done, and am doing, what a good citizen of
the world should do. I have built houses, many houses, and tilled many a hundred acres.
And as for trees, have I not planted a hundred thousand? Everywhere, from any window
of my house, I can gaze forth upon these trees of my planting, standing valiantly erect
and aspiring toward the sun.
My life has indeed fallen in pleasant places. Not a hundred men in a million have been so
lucky as I. Yet, with all this vast good fortune, am I sad. And I am sad because John
Barleycorn is with me. And John Barleycorn is with me because I was born in what
future ages will call the dark ages before the ages of rational civilisation. John Barleycorn
is with me because in all the unwitting days of my youth John Barleycorn was accessible,
calling to me and inviting me on every corner and on every street between the corners.
The pseudo-civilisation into which I was born permitted everywhere licensed shops for
the sale of soul- poison. The system of life was so organised that I (and millions like me)
was lured and drawn and driven to the poison shops.
Wander with me through one mood of the myriad moods of sadness into which one is
plunged by John Barleycorn. I ride out over my beautiful ranch. Between my legs is a
beautiful horse. The air is wine. The grapes on a score of rolling hills are red with autumn
flame. Across Sonoma Mountain wisps of sea fog are stealing. The afternoon sun
smoulders in the drowsy sky. I have everything to make me glad I am alive. I am filled
with dreams and mysteries. I am all sun and air and sparkle. I am vitalised, organic. I
move, I have the power of movement, I command movement of the live thing I bestride. I
am possessed with the pomps of being, and know proud passions and inspirations. I have
ten thousand august connotations. I am a king in the kingdom of sense, and trample the
face of the uncomplaining dust....
And yet, with jaundiced eye I gaze upon all the beauty and wonder about me, and with
jaundiced brain consider the pitiful figure I cut in this world that endured so long without
me and that will again endure without me. I remember the men who broke their hearts
and their backs over this stubborn soil that now belongs to me. As if anything
imperishable could belong to the perishable! These men passed. I, too, shall pass. These
men toiled, and cleared, and planted, gazed with aching eyes, while they rested their
labour-stiffened bodies on these same sunrises and sunsets, at the autumn glory of the
grape, and at the fog-wisps stealing across the mountain. And they are gone. And I know
that I, too, shall some day, and soon, be gone.