Of the ballads included in the Child anthology, Twa Corbies (Child 26), first published in Ravenscroft's Melismata in 1611 as The Three Ravens, is perhaps the oldest. Morris Blythman (d.1981), a seminal figure in the development of the Scottish folk "scene," set this Scottish version of the poem to a Breton tune, An Alarc'h (The Swan), and Norman Buchan included it in his 1962 collection, 101 Scottish Songs (the best Scottish songbook ever!). We have anglicized it slightly.
As I was walking all alone
I heard twa corbies making moan
The one unto the other did say-o
Where shall we gang and dine the day-o
Where shall we gang and dine the day?
Down behind yon old fail dyke
I wot there lies a new slain knight
Nobody kens that he lies there-o
But his hawk and his hound and his lady fair-o
His hawk, his hound and his lady fair.
The hound is to the hunting gone
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl home
His lady's taken another mate-o
And we can make our dinner sweet-o
We can make our dinner sweet
Do you light on his white breast-bone,
And I'll pluck out his bonny blue e'en
With many a lock of his yellow hair-o
We'll theek our nest when it grows bare-o
Theek our nest when it grows bare.
Many a one for him makes moan
But none shall ken where he is gone
O'er his white bones when they are bare-o
The wind shall blow for evermair-o
The wind shall blow for evermair.