The Three Ravens

The Three Ravens

Original Text
Thomas Ravencroft, Pammelia. Deutromelia. Milsmata, ed. Mac-Edward Leach, facsimile reprint of 1609 and 1611 first editions (Philadelphia: American Folklore Society, 1961). M 2 R2P3 MUSI
2They were as black as they might be.
3The one of them said to his mate,
4'Where shall we our breakefast take?'
5'Downe in yonder greene field,
6There lies a knight slain under his shield.
7'His hounds they lie downe at his feete,
8So well they can their master keepe.
9'His haukes they flie so eagerly,
10There's no fowle dare come him nie.'
12As great with yong as she might goe.
13She lift up his bloudy hed,
14And kist his wounds that were so red.
15She got him up upon her backe,
18She was dead herselfe ere even-song time.
19God send every gentleman,


1] This ballad was first printed in Ravenscroft's Melismata, a song-book of 1611, and variant versions were recorded as late as the 19th century. It is the only English ballad in this collection.

The ballad has a refrain, "Downe a downe, hay down, hay downe", etc. alternating with the lines. Back to Line

11] a fallow doe. The knight's lady is meant. Back to Line
16] lack. Pit. Back to Line
17] prime. The first hour of the day. Back to Line
20] leman. Sweetheart. Back to Line
Publication Start Year
RPO poem Editors
W. J. Alexander; William Hall Clawson
RPO Edition
RP (1912), pp. 16-17; RPO 1997.