Thursday, May 4, 2023

The Three Ravens/Twa Corbies

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing.
~Edgar Allan Poe

For Poetry Friday, A traditional poem/folk song with two versions: English and Scottish. Here's the English one:

The Three Ravens

There were three ravens sat on a tree,
Down a down, hey down a down,
They were as black as black could be
With a down;
Then one of them said to his mate,
Where shall we our breakfast take?
With a hey derry down.

Down in yonder green field,
There lies a knight slain under his shield;
His hounds they lie down at his feet
So well do they their master keep.

His hawks they fly so eagerly,
There's no fowl that dare him come nigh;
Down there comes a fallow doe,
As great with young as she might go.

She lifted up his bloody head,
And kissed his wounds that were so red;
She got him up upon her back
And carried him to earthen lake.

She buried him before the prime,
She was dead herself ere evensong time;
God send every gentleman,
Such hawks, such hounds, and such a leman.

Author unknown


In the Scottish version, The Twa Corbies, no one stops the birds from eating the dead knight...


P.S. I almost forgot! Last chance to sign up for the Summer Poem Swap.

P.P.S. I am not sure whether to interpret the difference between the two songs as the Scots being grim or the Scots saying "the heck with nobles," but I am leaning toward the second, haha.

TeacherDance has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Linda!


Linda Mitchell said...

ooooh! Thanks for the reminder. I have signed up for the summer poem swap. One of my favorite events of the year!

Linda B said...

Saddest tales, Tabatha. I love the music, and looked up 'leman', a new word to me. I guess you know it means 'lover'. It's an intriguing choice of words with 'doe' and then that cringing query from the hawks. Thanks for these all new songs/poems.

Sarah Grace Tuttle said...

This is such a cool post! Thank you for sharing both versions-- I love seeing the morphing of oral traditions. Happy Poetry Friday!

laurasalas said...

Thank you for these lyrics. With the passing of Gordon Lightfoot this week, I've been pondering lyrics even more than usual. Folk song lyrics, when read from a distance, sure tell you a lot about a society, don't they?

Rose Cappelli said...

Very interesting post, Tabatha. I enjoyed listening and thinking about the differences.

Anonymous said...

Love the folksy and guitar riffs of the Scottish version though more gruesome…thanks for both Tabatha.

Michelle Kogan said...

Oops, that’s my unidentified comment aboveTabatha.

Denise Krebs said...

Tabatha, fascinating poems! Thank you for sharing and for the reminder about the poetry swap. Hooray!

Mary Lee said...

I kind of agree: "the heck with nobles!"

Side note -- last week a gigantic crow came to our bird feeder and took huge bites out of the suet while we watched from the window. It was ASTONISHINGLY big compared to the chickadees and finches.

Patricia Franz said...

The kindness of crows...
I listened to the English one and after reading your comment about the Scottish one, decided not to go there. But I'm thinking of the kindness of the doe. Would that we two-leggeds show such care.

Tabatha said...

I should have explained that the "doe" is a woman! It's his lover/mistress, great with child. Amazing that she can carry him in such a state! The English version has her taking care of his body; the Scottish version has her running off with another man.

Tabatha said...

Mary Lee, I like to feed the crows on one side of my house and the wee birds on the other because of the size differential. Everybody needs their own space :)

Carol Labuzzetta said...

Interesting songs and versions, Tabitha! My husband and I traveled this weekend and saw several "huge" crows! Your post has made me think about them more. And I have suet to put out - I'll have to watch for the big black birds!

Karen Edmisten said...

Tabatha, this is so cool — thank you!