Twa Corbies

Twa Corbies (lit. 'Two Crows') is an anonymous poem in the lowland Scots dialect. Some sources place its origin as early as the 14th century. It has spawned numerous variations, including the English folksong Three Ravens, and has been sung to various tunes. During the 1960s the Scottish traditional singer Ray Fisher set it to an anonymous Breton folk tune, Al Alarch, which fitted the mournful theme of the song perfectly. I have followed her example.

Recorded examples include Ray & Archie Fisher, on the EP Far O'er the Forth or the compilation CD set New Electric Muse: The Story of Folk into Rock; Steeleye Span, from the album Hark! The Village Waite and (in German translation as Rabenballade) by Corvus-Corax on the album Tempi antiquuii. I'm particularly grateful to Thorvald Neumann for providing information and lyrics on the last.

The Tune:

As a MIDI file

As I was walkin' all alane
I heard twa corbies makkin a mane
Tha tain unto the other ane say-o
"Where sall we gang and dine the day-o
"Where sall we gang and dine the day?"

"In ahint yon auld fail dyke
"I wot there lies a new-slain knight
"And naebody kens that he lies there-o
"But his hawk and his hound and his lady fair-o
"Hawk and his hound and his lady fair

"His hound is tae the huntin gane
"His hawk tae fetch the wildfowl hame
"His lady's ta'en another mate-o
"Sae we mun mak our dinner sweet-o
"We mun mak our dinner sweet

"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane
"And I'll pike oot his bonny blue een
"Wi ae lock o his gowden hair-o
"We'll theek our nest when it grow bare-o
"Theek our nest when it grows bare

"Mony a ane for him maks mane
"But nane sall ken where he is gane
"Oer his white bones when they are bare-o
"The wind sall blaw for evermair-o
"Wind sall blow for evermair."

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