John Barleycorn

John Barleycorn in the song is a personification of the important cereal crop barley, and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whisky. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death, and indignities that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Barleycorn