Old Adam, the Carrion Crow

Original Text: 
Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Death's jest-book; or, The fool's tragedy (London: W. Pickering, 1850). B-11 4357 Fisher Rare Book Library
2    The old crow of Cairo;
3He sat in the shower, and let it flow
4    Under his tail and over his crest;
5      And through every feather
6      Leak'd the wet weather;
7    And the bough swung under his nest;
8    For his beak it was heavy with marrow.
9      Is that the wind dying? O no;
10      It's only two devils, that blow,
11      Through a murderer's bones, to and fro,
12      In the ghosts' moonshine.
13  Ho! Eve, my grey carrion wife,
14    When we have supped on king's marrow,
15Where shall we drink and make merry our life?
16    Our nest it is queen Cleopatra's skull,
17      'Tis cloven and crack'd,
18      And batter'd and hack'd,
19    But with tears of blue eyes it is full:
20    Let us drink then, my raven of Cairo!
21      Is that the wind dying? O no;
22      It's only two devils, that blow
23      Through a murderer's bones, to and fro,
24      In the ghosts' moonshine.


1] First published, posthumously, in 1850. In an early form the play seems to have been completed by 1830, but Beddoes added and rewrote until his death in 1848. It is a strange revenge play written in the Elizabethan manner. The Song from the Ship marks the departure of an expedition from Ancona to rescue Duke Melveric from captivity among the Moors. Old Adam, the carrion crow, is sung in the charnel-house scene of revenge with which the play ends. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
J. D. Robins
RPO Edition: 
2RP.2.337; RPO 1996-2000.