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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Three Ravens
The Ballad
 
1.  THERE 1 were three ravens sat on a tree,
    Downe a downe, hay down, hay downe, 2
  There were three ravens sat on a tree,
          With a downe,
  There were three ravens sat on a tree,        5
  They were as blacke as they might be.
      With a downe derrie, derrie, derrie, downe, downe.
 
2.  The one of them said to his mate,
  “Where shall we our breakfast take?”
 
3.  “Downe in yonder greene field        10
  There lies a knight slain under his shield.
 
4.  “His hounds they lie down at his feete,
  So well they can their master keepe. 3
 
5.  “His haukes they flie so eagerly,
  There’s no fowle dare him come nie.”        15
 
6.  Downe there comes a fallow doe,
  As great with young as she might goe.
 
7.  She lift up his bloudy head,
  And kist his wounds that were so red.
 
8.  She got him up upon her backe,        20
  And carried him to earthen lake. 4
 
9.  She buried him before the prime,
  She was dead herselfe ere even-song time.
 
10.  God send every gentleman
  Such haukes, such hounds, and such a leman. 5        25
 
Note 1. The counterpart, or perhaps parody, of this ballad, called ‘The Twa Corbies,’ is better known than the exquisite original. [back]
Note 2. The refrain, or burden, differs in another version of the ballad. [back]
Note 3. Guard. [back]
Note 4. Shroud of earth, burial. [back]
Note 5. Sweetheart, darling, literally “dear-one” (liefman). The word had originally no offensive meaning. [back]
 
 
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