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Published on Aug 11, 2010
"The Three Ravens" is an English language folk ballad, printed in the song book Melismata compiled by Thomas Ravenscroft and published in 1611, but it is perhaps older than that.
The ballad takes the form of three scavenger birds conversing about where and what they should eat. One mentions a recently slain knight, but they find he is guarded by his loyal hawk and hound. Furthermore a doe (often interpreted as the knight's mistress in supernatural form) comes upon him, cleans his wounds, bears him away, and buries him, leaving the ravens without an apparent meal. The narrator, however, gradually departs from the ravens' point of view, ending with "God send euery gentleman/Such haukes, such hounds, and such a Leman" - the comment of the narrator on the action, rather than the ravens whose discussion he earlier describes.