Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Three Crows


Now three black crows sat on a tree,
As black as any crows could be
Caw, caw, caw.

Said one black crow unto the other
"Where shall we dine today dear brother?"

"On yonder hill's an old grey mare.
I think my friends we shall dine there".

They perched upon her high backbone,
And picked her eyes out one by one.

Said the second black crow unto the other,
"Isn't she a tough old bugger"

Up come a squatter with his gun,
And shot them all excepting one.

Now that one black crow got such a fright,
He turned from black right into white.

Now that is why you'll often see
A white crow among the tree.

From Ron Edwards' Big Book of Australian Folk Song.  Ron noted that the song seemed widely known in North Queensland when it was collected by Wendy Lowenstein in November, 1969.  Originally collected by Wendy from Dave Guard, "an old resident of Georgetown, Queensland".

An obvious derivative of the well-known English folk song, Three Ravens or Twa Corbies.


  1. Thanks for the "Three Crows" song. This one has always fascinated me and I'm glad to have another version of it. I wondered how many of the "Child" ballads had made it out to Australia. Here is a version from Virginia:


  2. Thanks for that, John. I learnt it originally as Three Ravens and was delighted to find this Aussie version. Not necessarily Child ballads but have a look at Songlinks, a recording project from a few years back organised by Martin Wyndham-Read. There was an Aussie version and an American version comparing English songs and how they fared on their journeys.

    Interesting how things come around - I'm organising Peggy Seeger's Brisbane concert in January.