Here's an older version of the Ballad of John Barleycorn, reproduced as it appears in the book The Magical Pantheons (and before that, gleaned from the Seattle, WA Folklife festival, May 1992).

Many of the words are different from version to version; this rendition has an older, darker feel to it. This is not surprising, as there are many direct parallels in this story to ancient Egyptian legends of Osiris, and the agricultural themes of destruction and rebirth are central to the narrative.

There were three kings come from the East,
Their fortune for to try,
And they ha' ta'en a solemn vow
John Barleycorn should die.
They took a plough and plough'd him down
Cast clods upon his head,
And they ha' ta'en a solemn vow
John Barleycorn was dead.
But when the Spring came kindly on,
And show'rs began to fall,
John Barleycorn got up again
And sore surpris'd them all.
The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong'
His head well armed wi' pointed spears,
That none should do him wrong.
The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
And he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show'd he began to fail.
His colour sicken'd more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
They took a sickle, long and sharp,
And cut him at the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgery.
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell'd him full sore;
Then hung him up before the blast,
And turned him o'er and o'er.
They next filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in poor John Barleycorn
And let him sink or swim.
They roasted o'er a scorching flame
The marrow of his bones;
But the miller us'd him worse than that,
And ground him 'twixt two stones.
And they ha' ta'en his own hearts blood,
And drank it round and round,
And still the more that they ha' drunk
Their joy did more abound.
So let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each one wi' glass in hand,
And may his great posterity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!