Corbies" is a very old Scottish folk song, and as many of
these old ballads were, is somewhat gruesome. Think of them as
the ancient equivalent to modern day horror movies, but with a
deeper philosophical underpinning of musings on life, death, and
It is a variant of "The Three
Ravens" which dates back to 1611 where it appears in "Melismata,
Musicall Phansies Fitting the Court, Cittie, and Countrey Humours"
by T. Ravenscroft. Francis James Child names this a "cynical
version" of the original ballad.
Corbie is another word for raven or
crow. Below is the text of the original ballad: (an abbreviated
version is written around the artwork.)
As I was walking all alane
I heard twa corbies making a mane:
The tane unto the tither did say,
"Whar sall we gang and dine the day?"
"- In behint yon auld fail dyke
I wot there lies a new-slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there
But his hawk, his hound, and his lady fair.
"His hound is to the hunting gane,
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame,
His lady's ta'en anither mate,
So we may mak our dinner sweet.
"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I'll pike out his bonny blue e'en:
Wi'ae lock o' his gowden hair
We'll theek our nest when it grows bare.
"Mony a one for him maks mane,
But nane sall ken whar he is gane:
O'er his white banes, when they are bare,
The wind sall blaw for evermair."
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