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-- The fullest description of the rustic game of barley-break is to be found in the first book of Sidney's
After the ceremony there was a banquet at Wynscote, and dancing, and a Maypole, and a soaped pig, and barley-break -- an old athletic sport, to some extent resembling prisoner's base.
Robin Tremayne A Story of the Marian Persecution Emily Sarah Holt 1864
bilby commented on the word barley-break
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.
- Sir John Suckling, untitled.
"The game of barley-break, which furnishes the idea of these verses, is explained in the last ecloque of Sidney's Arcadia, lib. i. It was played by three couples: the middle couple was said to be 'in hell,' and had to catch the other couples. The catching pair were not allowed to separate till they had succeeded; while the other pairs, if hard pressed, were allowed to 'break' or separate,from which the game derived the second part of its name. When all had been caught, new couples were formed, and the pair which failed to occupy one of the ends of the grounds was 'in hell.'"
- A. Hamilton Thompson, 'The Works of Sir John Suckling'.
February 7, 2009