The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #98836   Message #1961938
Posted By: Goose Gander
09-Feb-07 - 12:41 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Carrion Crow
This one doesn't seem to have its own thread, and I thought it deserved one, so here goes . . . .

First, here's what there is in the DT . . .





Here's some lyrics from other threads . . .



And from the Bodleian Library

CARRION CROW Pitts, J. (London) between 1802 and 1819

CARRION CROW Watts, Printer, Lane-End

CARRION CROW Pitts, J. (London) between 1819 and 1844

And from American Memory . . .

SLY YOUNG CROW Boston, Massachusetts: L. Deming

And from Robert Bell

"[This still popular song is quoted by Grose in his Olio, where it
is made the subject of a burlesque commentary, the covert political
allusions having evidently escaped the penetration of the
antiquary. The reader familiar with the annals of the Commonwealth
and the Restoration, will readily detect the leading points of the
allegory. The 'Carrion Crow' in the oak is Charles II., who is
represented as that bird of voracious appetite, because he deprived
the puritan clergy of their livings; perhaps, also, because he
ordered the bodies of the regicides to be exhumed—as Ainsworth
says in one of his ballads:-
The carrion crow is a sexton bold,
He raketh the dead from out of the mould.
The religion of the 'old sow,' whoever she may be, is clearly
pointed out by her little pigs praying for her soul. The 'tailor'
is not easily identified. It is possibly intended for some puritan
divine of the name of Taylor, who wrote and preached against both
prelacy and papacy, but with an especial hatred of the latter. In
the last verse he consoles himself by the reflection that,
notwithstanding the deprivations, his party will have enough
remaining from the voluntary contributions of their adherents. The
'cloak' which the tailor is engaged in cutting out, is the Genevan
gown, or cloak; the 'spoon' in which he desires his wife to bring
treacle, is apparently an allusion to the 'spatula' upon which the
wafer is placed in the administration of the Eucharist; and the
introduction of 'chitterlings and black-puddings' into the last
verse seems to refer to a passage in Rabelais, where the same
dainties are brought in to personify those who, in the matter of
fasting, are opposed to Romish practices. The song is found in
collections of the time of Charles II.]

The carrion crow he sat upon an oak,
And he spied an old tailor a cutting out a cloak.
Heigho! the carrion crow.
The carrion crow he began for to rave,
And he called the tailor a lousy knave!
Heigho! the carrion crow.
'Wife, go fetch me my arrow and my bow,
I'll have a shot at that carrion crow.'
Heigho! the carrion crow.
The tailor he shot, and he missed his mark,
But he shot the old sow through the heart.
Heigho! the carrion crow.
'Wife, go fetch me some treacle in a spoon,
For the old sow's in a terrible swoon!'
Heigho! the carrion crow.
The old sow died, and the bells they did toll,
And the little pigs prayed for the old sow's soul!
Heigho! the carrion crow.
'Never mind,' said the tailor, 'I don't care a flea,
There'll be still black-puddings, souse, and chitterlings for me.'
Heigho! the carrion crow." Robert Bell

Here's the Ballad Index entry . . .

Carrion Crow

DESCRIPTION: "A carrion crow (kangaroo) sat on an oak, To my inkum kiddy-cum kimeo, Watching a tailor mend a coat...." The tailor tries to shoot the crow, but misses and kills his old sow. The family mourns the dead animal
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1796 (Francis Grose papers)
KEYWORDS: animal bird death talltale nonsense hunting
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (11 citations):
Belden, pp. 270-271, "The Carrion Crow" (2 texts)
Brewster 62, "The Tailor and the Crow" (2 texts)
Creighton/Senior, pp. 244-246, "The Carrion Crow" (2 texts plus 1 fragment, 2 tunes)
Creighton-Maritime, p. 133, "The Carrion Crow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mackenzie 156, "The Tailor and the Crow" (1 text); "The Carrion Crow" (2 texts)
Linscott, pp. 185-186, "The Carrion Crow" (1 text, 1 tune)
SharpAp 222, "The Carrion Crow" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Lomax-FSNA 72, "The Kangaroo" (1 text, 1 tune)
Opie-Oxford2 87, "A carrion crow sat on an oak" (2 texts)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #172, p. 127, "(A carrion crow sat on an oak)"

Roud #891
Otis High, "Captain Karo" [referred to in notes as "Carrion Crow"] (HandMeDown1)
Margaret MacArthur, "Carrion Crow" (on MMacArthur01)

Bodleian, Harding B 12(10), "Carrion Crow" ("As I went forth one May morning"), J. Pitts (London), 1802-1819 ; also 2806 c.18(55), "The Carrion Crow"
LOCSinging, as112630, "Sly Young Crow," L. Deming (Boston), 19C

Notes: A rhyme of the time of Charles I reads, "Hie hoe the carryon crow for I have shot something too low I have quite missed my mark, & shot the poore sow to the harte Wyfe bring treakel in a spoone, or else the poore sowes harte wil downe."
Said piece is regarded as an allegory on Charles's reimposition of high church ritual (and consequent dismissal of Calvinist clergy). Not impossible, in those times -- but whether it inspired this song, or was inspired by it, is not clear. - RBW
File: LoF072

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

Two texts from Halliwell, Nursery Rhymes of England (1842)

A CARRION crow sat on an oak,
   Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
Watching a tailor shape his cloak;
   Sing heigh ho, the carrion crow,
   Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do
Wife, bring me my old bent bow,
   Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
That I may shoot yon carrion crow;
   Sing heigh ho, the carrion crow,
   Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do.
The tailor he shot and missed his mark,
   Fol de riddle, lol de riddle hi ding do;
And shot his own sow quite through the heart,
   Sing heigh ho, the carrion crow,
   Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do.
/ p. 53 /
Wife, bring brandy in a spoon;
    Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
For our old sow is in a swoon,
    Sing heigh ho, the carrion crow,
    Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do.

[Another version from MS. Sloane, 1489, fol. 17, written in the time of Charles I.]

HIC hoc, the carrion crow,
For I have shot something too low:
I have quite missed my mark,
And shot the poor sow to the heart;
Wife, bring treacle in a spoon,
Or else the poor sow's heart will down

More to follow, hope others are interested in this, too.