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3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?

DigiTrad:
SAYS THE BLACKBIRD TO THE CROW
THE THREE CROWS (BILLY MACGEE MACGORE)
THE THREE RAVENS
THE THREE RAVENS (5)
THE TWA CORBIES (7)
THOMAS O YONDERDALE
THREE CRAWS
TWA CORBIES
TWA CORBIES 2
TWA CRAWS SAT ON A STANE


Related threads:
Origins: Twa Corbies / Three Ravens / etc. (72)
Twa Corbies (46)
Three Black Crows (21)
Twa Corbies - transl. into Engl, please (63)
Lyr Req: Three Ravens, newer version? (22)
Lyr Req: The Twa Corbies (13)
Mudcatter's CD's Part 2 (16)
Help! Twa Corbies (12)
Lyr Req: Old Black Crow (6)
Info needed for 'Two Ravens' (13)
origins of 'Two Ravens' (4)
Lyr Req: Scot Gaelic Song - The Two Crows? (7)
Lyr/Chords Req: The Twa Corbies (Old Blind Dogs) (5)
Lyr Req: Three Black Birds (8)


Helen 27 Oct 19 - 04:36 PM
Charley Noble 27 Oct 19 - 12:19 PM
Helen 25 Oct 19 - 03:37 PM
Charley Noble 25 Oct 19 - 12:59 PM
Helen 23 Oct 19 - 02:48 PM
Charley Noble 23 Oct 19 - 12:13 PM
Helen 22 Oct 19 - 07:55 PM
Lighter 22 Oct 19 - 07:11 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Oct 19 - 05:32 PM
Helen 22 Oct 19 - 03:06 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Oct 19 - 11:25 AM
Lighter 22 Oct 19 - 10:27 AM
EBarnacle 22 Oct 19 - 08:03 AM
Helen 22 Oct 19 - 12:18 AM
EBarnacle 21 Oct 19 - 11:41 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Oct 19 - 08:52 AM
Lighter 20 Oct 19 - 06:32 PM
Helen 20 Oct 19 - 03:07 PM
Helen 20 Oct 19 - 03:04 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Oct 19 - 03:03 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Oct 19 - 02:56 PM
RTim 20 Oct 19 - 11:53 AM
Mrrzy 20 Oct 19 - 11:37 AM
Lighter 20 Oct 19 - 09:23 AM
Lighter 20 Oct 19 - 09:14 AM
Helen 20 Oct 19 - 07:03 AM
Joe_F 19 Oct 19 - 08:38 PM
Lighter 19 Oct 19 - 03:00 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Oct 19 - 10:16 AM
Charley Noble 19 Oct 19 - 09:56 AM
Lighter 03 Aug 19 - 08:01 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Aug 19 - 04:15 PM
RTim 02 Aug 19 - 07:47 PM
GUEST,Dana 02 Aug 19 - 02:19 PM
Tootler 29 Jul 11 - 05:33 PM
Tootler 29 Jul 11 - 05:29 PM
Tootler 29 Jul 11 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 29 Jul 11 - 06:31 AM
Jack Campin 28 Jul 11 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,Lighter 28 Jul 11 - 04:25 PM
GUEST,Margaret 21 Apr 06 - 09:23 PM
Don Firth 21 Apr 06 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,Ian Pittaway 21 Apr 06 - 12:40 PM
Tootler 20 Apr 06 - 03:09 PM
Effsee 20 Apr 06 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Ian Pittaway 20 Apr 06 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,Margaret 19 Apr 06 - 07:42 PM
Effsee 19 Apr 06 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,Ian Pittaway 19 Apr 06 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 19 Apr 06 - 12:51 AM
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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Helen
Date: 27 Oct 19 - 04:36 PM

Well, Charley, that's a good record of achievement.

Maybe you could take up painting yourself and recreate it from memory. That's a serious suggestion. I don't know what your artistic skills are but maybe you inherited some talent from your Mother.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Oct 19 - 12:19 PM

We've done that over the years but I'm thinking this one slipped through the cracks. In general my mother's inventory of artwork over 90 years is 99% complete.

Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Helen
Date: 25 Oct 19 - 03:37 PM

Oh well, Charley, it was worth a shot. You might strike it lucky.

I have been doing paintings in the last few years and I always take photos of them.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Oct 19 - 12:59 PM

Helen-

I wish it were that simple. Two other song illustration were auctioned on eBay in 2007 and we've been able to locate them and re-photograph them, "Barney Buntline/Sailors Consolation" and "Get Along Little Dogey."

Cheerily,
Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Helen
Date: 23 Oct 19 - 02:48 PM

Good luck finding the painting, Charley.

You might strike it lucky by doing an image search on Google.

I just tried it with this search term:

painting of "three ravens" song

Click the search button and then click the Images tab under the search box.

The double quotes around "three ravens" helps to narrow the search instead of lots of results relating to "three" or "ravens" individually.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Oct 19 - 12:13 PM

Helen-

I like your interpretation, which is close to what my mother used to say about the song.

Someday we'll track down my mother's painting, which was originally purchased by our family doctor Virginia Hamilton of Bath, ME. This is one of the few paintings by her that we do not have a photo of, which makes the search more difficult.

Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Helen
Date: 22 Oct 19 - 07:55 PM

Well, Lighter, I'll just credit the version of the quote that I heard to the maker of my lever harp. Whichever way you say it, it's still funny. If the story is worthwhile, that is, and not just a big fat lie with evil intent.

Oh, shut up, Helen! Back to the topic.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Oct 19 - 07:11 PM

" . . . did not allow a want of facts to stand in the way of a good story." -- D. W. Green, "Moose - II: An Expedition into New Brunswick," _Forest and Stream_, 28 June 1902 , p. 509.

(With thanks to my friend Charles Doyle.)

Like so many others, the quote, in one version or another, is widely but incorrectly credited to Mark Twain.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Oct 19 - 05:32 PM

"Never let the truth get in the way of a good story". Amen to that!


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Helen
Date: 22 Oct 19 - 03:06 PM

Thanks EBarnacle, I'll have to see if I can find a copy in the library or bookshop, although rape & incest are not my preferred topics to read about.

Just remember, Steve, the majority of readers of the novel would never have heard of The Three Ravens song, and probably don't care whether the story has any authenticity.

As a now-deceased musician friend of mine once told me when I was laughingly jazzing up a re-telling of an incident which sort-of happened to me, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story".


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Oct 19 - 11:25 AM

Welsh origins????? London's now in Wales?


>>There are elements of rape, incest and infidelity and murder in the novel<<

If these were actually in the ballad it would give it far greater qualification as a Child Ballad than it had.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Oct 19 - 10:27 AM

> There are elements of rape, incest and infidelity and murder in the novel.

Unlike "The Three Ravens." That's progress! ; )


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 22 Oct 19 - 08:03 AM

My bad, it takes place in Cornwall. I started reading it last night and before I fell asleep I was 100 pages in.
The central characters are musicians and the story relates to a family tragedy occurring to the ancestors of one of the musicians. There are elements of rape, incest and infidelity and murder in the novel.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Helen
Date: 22 Oct 19 - 12:18 AM

Well, EBarnacle, are you going to maintain the mystery or give us an idea of the author's interpretation? LOL


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 21 Oct 19 - 11:41 PM

I just happen to have picked up "New slain Knight" by Deborah Grabien. It is part of the haunted Ballad series and offers an interesting alternative interpretation to the ballad and its Welsh origins.
The library was excessing it and the title caught mine ee.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Oct 19 - 08:52 AM

I concur to that, Jon, but what Scott published in MSB he eventually admitted to interfering with to some extent. This leaves us with the possibility that what he was sent might have been a version of Three Ravens which he drastically altered. Sharpe himself was known as something of a ballad 'broker'.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Oct 19 - 06:32 PM

I dunno about Scott's authorship, of the "Corbies," Steve. According to Malcolm Douglas on

https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=9564&messages=47#1238100

"Scott ...was sent it by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, 'as written down, from tradition, by a lady' (Minstrelsy, edition of 1812: II, 214). Child (I, 253) quotes a letter from Sharpe to Scott (August 8, 1802): 'The song of 'The Twa Corbies' was given to me by Miss Erskine of Alva (now Mrs Kerr), who, I think, said that she had written it down from the recitation of an old woman at Alva."

Which is not to say that it was old at the time.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Helen
Date: 20 Oct 19 - 03:07 PM

Performed by the City Waites feat. Lucie Skeaping


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Helen
Date: 20 Oct 19 - 03:04 PM

Thanks for that link, RTim. Very interesting article.

I like Thomas Ravenscroft's statement on the front page of the book:

"To all delightfull except to the spitefull, to none offensive except to the pensive."

This is a vocal version of The Three Ravens:

Lumina Vocal Ensemble

I forgot to mention that in music class we sang the tune with harmonies, so that is the way I remember the song.

(I'll refrain from discussing why high voiced male tenors singing these sorts of tunes as if they are being strangled is not the way I remember these songs, which would explain why I didn't make a link to some other versions available on YouTube. LOL)


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Oct 19 - 03:03 PM

There is absolutely no reason to believe the song was written before Ravenscroft's time and see my post of 3rd August for the allegory.

The concensus among ballad scholars is that Scott wrote 'Twa Corbies'. Anything he altered is irrelevant to The Three Ravens.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Oct 19 - 02:56 PM

Hi Tim
I know Arthur well and I'll tell him to his face, IMHO all fanciful conjecture with no solid proof behind any of it.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: RTim
Date: 20 Oct 19 - 11:53 AM

There is a new article about the Three Ravens on the Musical Traditions web page by Arthur Knevet....
see - http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/three_ravens.htm

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 20 Oct 19 - 11:37 AM

Conceivable, ahahahaha!


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Oct 19 - 09:23 AM

It's just too early in the morning.

Of course the phrase "such leman" strongly suggests an identity between the lady and the doe.

Why, though, the high standard for a leman's character is only that she'll bury her dead knight is unclear.

But it may simply be that the (unenchanted) doe's altruism - like the loyalty of the hounds and hawk - is to be emulated.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Oct 19 - 09:14 AM

I should have made it clear that the "version" I referred to (really a parallel song or even parody) was "The Twa Corbies," and not the early "Three Ravens." Sorry for any confusion.

In the "Ravens," of course, there's no suggestion at all that the knight has been killed by his lady.

Whether, as romantic ballad scholars suggested many decades ago, the doe is or the knight's pregnant wife under an enchantment may never be known. It's obviously conceivable.

The song was made, after all, over four hundred years ago, and it provides no explanation. Maybe the author just thought of it as a wonder story.

As for the "Corbies," Wikipedia tells us that the Russian poet Pushkin's 1828 adaptation "contains only the first half of the poem, ending with '"and the mistress awaits for her lover, not the killed one, but the alive one,' thus making a dark hint the central point of the story."


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Helen
Date: 20 Oct 19 - 07:03 AM

There seems to be a bit of confusion between the type of deer called fallow deer, which leeneia said is the deer with the scientific name Dama dama. It's just a name for that type of deer.

The word "fallow" in relation to a field is a different concept.

It's obvious that female fallow deer can be pregnant otherwise that type of deer would be extinct so there is not much point discussing how the fallow deer in the song can or cannot be pregnant based on the concept of "fallow" in relation to fallow fields. Apples & oranges.

I've loved this song since I first heard it in high school music class. I especially love the melody, and the whole story of the knight lying slain under his shield.

I always thought it was like a fairy tale or fantasy story and then after studying Middle English literature I started to think it was like a mediaeval courtly love song with a fantastical theme, which honours true love.

I guess I always thought that somehow the knight's true love, i.e. his leman, had been changed magically into a deer for some reason but she found him after he was killed and looked after him and then died herself because of the physical exertion in carrying him and burying him.

The melody contributes to the magical nature of the story, in my opinion. To me it is ethereal and haunting and it conjures times in the distant misty past.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Joe_F
Date: 19 Oct 19 - 08:38 PM

I have read quite a few versions of this song, including those on this thread & related ones, and it appears that I read them all carelessly! The story as I remembered it was that, after the ravens have been deterred by the corpse's formidable defenders, they notice a far easier quarry -- the pregnant doe -- and agree to attack her instead. (A scapedoe!) That makes a plausible story, but I don't see any version that supports it. Many of them, indeed, seem to suggest that the fallow doe *is* the leman. Obviously I am missing something; maybe we all are.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Oct 19 - 03:00 PM

> There is little point in conjecturing how and why he was slain.

There really isn't, but anyone who notices the "only ones" who know he lies there can deduce what seems to have happened.

Which is not to say that the author or original singer consciously intended it.

If he's been killed by some caitiff knight, the killer would be someone else who knows.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Oct 19 - 10:16 AM

The hawk and the hounds are quite natural for this period and their behaviour is a little fanciful but not impossible. See also another fanciful ballad 'The Broomfield Hill' Child 43 and I'm sure others.

The ravens are there to add ghoulish realism in their actions, and horror.

We don't need to know the backstory. The piece makes its point without one. There is little point in conjecturing how and why he was slain.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Oct 19 - 09:56 AM

This was a favorite ballad of my uncle Richard Dyer-Bennet and was included in THE RICHARD DYER-BENNET SONGBOOK, p. 155, ©1971. The lyrics are a bit different that those ascribed to Dyer-Bennet in the Digital Archives and are posted below:

The Three Ravens

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

Down in yonder green field,
Down a down, hey down, hey down
Their lies a knight slain ‘neath his shield,
With a down.
His hounds they lie down at his feet
So well they do their master keep.
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

His hawks they fly so eagerly
Down a down, hey down, hey down
There is no fowl dare him come nigh,
With a down.
Then down there comes a fallow doe
As great with young as she might go.
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

She lifted up his bloody head,
Down a down, hey down, hey down
And kissed his wounds that were so red,
With a down.
She picked him up upon her back
And carried him to an earthen lak.
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

She buried him before the prime,
Down a down, hey down, hey down
Was dead herself ‘fore even-song time,
With a down.
God grant every gentleman
Such hawks, such hounds, and such a leman,
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

My mother, Dahlov Ipcar, actually painted an illustration of this ballad in the 1940s which has gone missing over the years. I'm still trying to track it down to re-photograph it.

Cheerily,
Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Aug 19 - 08:01 PM

As for the reliability of Walker's book as a source, read some of the one- and two-star reviews at Amazon.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Aug 19 - 04:15 PM

The Derry Down combination in choruses goes back at least to Tudor times and is and has been extremely common for centuries. Dana, you seem to be suggesting that 'derry down' is Celtic. The doe is also used metaphorically in other 17thc songs. 'Check out 'The Keeper'. (also a derry down chorus) but in that it is used as a sexual metaphor, still for female humans. I must follow up this reference to 'Derry Down' as a place, albeit mythical. If Derry in Ireland does indeed have a 'Down' that predates Tudor Times that would be of great interest.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: RTim
Date: 02 Aug 19 - 07:47 PM

My version on my SoundCloud Site.....(and as appears on my Home From Home CD.)

https://soundcloud.com/tim-radford/the-three-ravens


Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: GUEST,Dana
Date: 02 Aug 19 - 02:19 PM

There may be some residual mythical references in this song. According to Walker’s Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myth, Flidhais was a Celtic woodland goddess who took the form of a doe, nurtured heroes on quests, and brought them to fairyland when they died. Also it’s interesting to note that the Celtic goddess Brigid had a sacred grove where one could enter the Underworld (earthen lake?) at Derry Down. And the chorus of the song apparently refers to this site:   “With a down Derry Derry Derry down down”. Ravens are also associated with themes of death and resurrection and the underworld.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Tootler
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 05:33 PM

FWIW

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7IJCDQEvD4


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Tootler
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 05:29 PM

I am in agreement with what Guest tim wrote back in 2006 that this song is about love and loyalty. The last verse is pretty explicit on this.

I also think it metaphorical. The ravens are observers and the hawks, hounds and deer represent the knight's companions in life.

The "Twa Corbies" (which Child treats as a variant of the Three Ravens) is clearly the antithesis of this and the dead knight is represented as deserted and forgotten by all those who knew him in life and left for the scavengers to pick over.

The two ballads make an interesting contrast.

I heard the Twa Corbies very well sung last night.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Tootler
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 05:16 PM

Whenever I've heard this sung, the singer stops after "The fourth craw wisna there at a" and watches and smiles as the rest carry on until they gradually realise...


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 06:31 AM

Somewhere,and a long time ago now, I seem to recall reading that this is a veiled political story (allegory?), possibly in connection with the civil war, whereby the 2/3/4 crows represent personages of the time.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 05:56 PM

Three craws sat upon a wa
sat upon a wa
sat upon a wa
Three craws sat upon a wa
On a cold and frosty mornin'.

The first craw fell an' broke his jaw
fell an broke his jaw
fell an broke his jaw
The first craw fell an broke his jaw
On a cold and frosty mornin.

The second craw couldna flee at a
couldna flee at a
couldna flee at a
The second craw couldna flee at a
On a cold and frosty mornin.

The third craw wis greetin for his ma
greetin for his ma
greetin for his ma
The third craw was greetin for his ma
On a cold and frosty mornin.

The fourth craw wisnie there at a
wisnie there at a
wisnie there at a
The fourth craw wisnie there at a
On a cold and frosty mornin.

A local housing estate commissioned bronze statues of three craws sitting on the wall in front, with that rhyme underneath. They were fixed to the wall by their thin bronze legs. Somebody sawed one off and made off with with it. So there are just twa corbies left.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 04:25 PM

There are a number of English families whose hereditary arms feature "three ravens."

It could be mere coincidence. Or it could mean that the ravens of the song preparing to feed on the slain knight symbolize some sort of 16th Century rivalry. At least they might have been so interpreted at the time.

Just thinking out loud. Too bad there aren't any versions for two hundred years after 1611.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: GUEST,Margaret
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 09:23 PM

I was trying to avoid being long-winded when I wrote before. I was reacting to comments that "fallow doe" was metaphor for "pregnant woman" and I think that is impossible. However, we know the doe is pregnant because the ballad says so explicitly. I also thought looking into medieval hunting lore about fallow deer might be useful, but I just spent some time doing that and can't find anything pertinent.

I think the narrator's (a raven?) viewpoint is interesting. Things are described but not understood, like a small child might describe something like a wedding. I imagine the ballad as sung at the end of a tale about a knight and a deer-woman (human part of the time, a doe otherwise). He is killed for some reason and his body left for the ravens. The ballad sums up how he is buried and the woman dies (in childbirth?).


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 01:19 PM

This was one of the first ballads I ever learned. I learned it from a Richard Dyer-Bennet record way back, and have been fussing with it ever since. I use a lute-style classic guitar accompaniment for it that seems to work quite well. Sounds very old.

I've followed this discussion with considerable interest. From the beginning, I've wondered what it was all about; I've heard and read all kinds of speculations, but I've yet to find a satisfactory answer. I do know that it kills the song if you try to be too literal about it (same with a lot of ballads). It's full of symbolism and metaphor, and as intensely curious as I am to know what it all means, I've come to accept it as is, mysteries and all. It's rather like an ancient tapestry, worn and faded so the details are no longer visible except in vague outlines.

I've decided to, as Iris Dement says, "let the mystery be."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: GUEST,Ian Pittaway
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 12:40 PM

Effsee, back to a previous remark to another contributor, if fallow doe is a metaphor, the obvious question is: what's it a metaphor for? I know of no literature in which fallow doe is a metaphor (and neither does any other contributor to this thread or anyone I have spoken to), so could you tell me what the metaphor signifies and give me examples from other literature?


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Tootler
Date: 20 Apr 06 - 03:09 PM

fallow makes the line scan. Red or roe do not. Also the word "fallow" carries an implication of fertility in my view.

The fact that she was near term suggest she became pregnant some time ago (like about 9 months previously). As the knight was apparently only newly dead, there is no problem with the timing.

Another meaning I have seen for "Leman" is "mistress", just to throw another spanner in the works.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Effsee
Date: 20 Apr 06 - 02:09 PM

"how can be leman/sweetheart of a slain night be a pregnant (presumably by him) deer?!" There was probably a law against it even then.
Metaphor, no mystery.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: GUEST,Ian Pittaway
Date: 20 Apr 06 - 01:27 PM

Margaret, the fact that the song distinguishes a *fallow* deer makes me think it's yer actual deer, not a metaphor. "In any case, fallow can not mean pregnant." No, but the song *does* say the deer is "as great with child as she might go", i.e. heavily pregnant. So, Effsee, the mystery is: how can be leman/sweetheart of a slain night be a pregnant (presumably by him) deer?! That's what this thread is all about.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: GUEST,Margaret
Date: 19 Apr 06 - 07:42 PM

The people the song originated with thought it important to distinguish a fallow deer (not a red or a roe deer). Was there some significance in that? Roe deer were not regarded as aristocratic hunting. In any case, fallow can not mean pregnant.


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: Effsee
Date: 19 Apr 06 - 02:19 PM

I have a book called (with relentless logic) "A Book of Old Ballads" selected and introduced by Beverley Nichols, Hutchinson, London 1934. It contains 16 wonderful illustrations by H.M.Brock and one of these is for the 3 Ravens. It shows a flesh and blood human female kneeling by the fallen knight. One definition of leman that I've found is a "sweetheart". Mystery? What mystery?


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: GUEST,Ian Pittaway
Date: 19 Apr 06 - 01:03 PM

Dave, you answered your own point before I had chance! "But to take "doe" or "fallow doe" literally as a deer, picking him up and carrying him on her back, seems ludicrous to me." Yes, it's as ludicrous as talking birds, horses in conversation or any domestic pet being impressed by a cage of gold. "Yeah, great! Thanks! A golden cage!" This post has been fascinating, despite - or perhaps because of - the lack of a definitive answer. I suppose I ought to have known better to expect a definitive answer where traditional song is concerned. Any more, anyone?


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Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 19 Apr 06 - 12:51 AM

Obviously

When given leman, we make lemanade.

Art !!!


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