Mudcat Café message #1718598 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #90597   Message #1718598
Posted By: GUEST,Ian Pittaway
15-Apr-06 - 06:27 AM
Thread Name: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
Subject: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
In the early 17th century the song collector Thomas Ravenscroft published 'Three Ravens' - 'There were three ravens sat on a tree, downe a downe hay downe hay downe' etc. In it three ravens looking for breakfast spy a slain knight guarded by his hawks and hounds. So far so good. His leman (old English for lover) turns out to be a 'fallow doe' - pregnant deer - who carries him on her back, buries him then dies herself. Puzzling. I have long presumed this to therefore be a fragment of a much longer song, in which perhaps some malevalent force kills the knight and turns his true love into an animal, or perhaps a song in a play where the rest of the plot is explained, but I have no evidence whatever for this. The other night I sang it, said all this, and someone came up with a much simpler solution: perhaps 'fallow doe' is just an old English term for a pregnant woman and not yer actual animal at all. Does anyone know or have any clues?