The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #90597   Message #1721414
Posted By: Uncle_DaveO
18-Apr-06 - 07:23 PM
Thread Name: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
Subject: RE: 3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about?
I don't see that this song is mysterious at all. It's a rather straightforward tale.

The knight is slain; that we know. But by whom? Or in what circumstances?

His leman comes to his body. Someone above suggested that her family had killed him for his attentions to her. I can buy that. It would explain how she came to know where he was; she may not even have been very far away when the deed was done.

As to "fallow doe", it is, was, and has from time immemorial been common metaphor to refer to a woman as some female animal whose image might fit into the feeling of the story, poem, etc. Just as twentieth century slang often referred to "a chick", "a kitten" and so forth, and to an older woman as "an old hen". "Fallow" or "FALLOW doe" seems to admit of a variety of readings, but I'm inclined to believe in this case "a fallow doe" is, as referred to above, a pregnant woman, especially when she's described in the song as being "as great with young as she might go".

As to her ability to get him away from the death site, the song doesn't say with what difficulty, nor indeed how far she transported him. And the grave wouldn't have to be very deep, so despite her advanced pregnancy it's entirely believable that she could scratch out a shallow grave. It's even possible--not contradicted by the song--that she got someone else to dig the grave. Or, if she knew that her brothers or father???? were going to kill him, she may have personally or by agent had the grave dug before the event. The song does say, after all, that she "bore him to the earthen slack", not that she dug it in person.

And if one thinks of her ability to do the heavy work, she may indeed have died afterwards or sorrow or of the effects of the work, she being in what used to be called "a delicate condition". The song as we get it doesn't say.

But to take "doe" or "fallow doe" literally as a deer, picking him up and carrying him on her back, seems ludicrous to me.

Dave Oesterreich