Will Gatti & Daniel Finn


Listen to the corbies calling

Listen to the corbies calling

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Corbies, that’s an old word for ravens and crows.

Those are ravens in the picture, hunkered down against the cold, though it’s the darkness of crows I think when the world is covered in snow.


No ravens in my garden today, nor sign of a crow but a pair of blackbirds came flitting out from the holly I’ve rooted from the ground and which I have been meaning to clear. Holly is old even when it’s young and green, and streams with magic… so no wonder it was good shelter for the birds. There was a robin, of course, and fine tantalising tracks in the snow…

I was looking for a worried half man, half goat – a faun- wearing a scarf and offering shelter, Mr Tumnus (from the other side of the wardrobe), but you should know better than to trust creatures in the snow that don’t hide from you,  but instead invite you in.

Listen to the corbies sing:


As I was walking all alane, 
I heard twa corbies making a mane; 
The tane unto the t’other say, 
‘Where sall we gang and dine to-day?’


‘In behint yon auld fail dyke, 
I wot there lies a new slain knight; 
And naebody kens that he lies there, 
But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair.


‘His hound is to the hunting gane, 
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame, 
His lady’s ta’en another mate, 
So we may mak our dinner sweet.


‘Ye’ll sit on his white hause-bane, 
And I’ll pike out his bonny blue een; 
Wi ae lock o his gowden hair 
We’ll, theek our nest when it grows bare.


‘Mony a one for him makes mane, 
But nane sall ken where he is gane; 
Oer his white banes, when they we bare, 
The wind sall blaw for evermair.’


 This is an old Scottish ballad: The Twa Corbies. It’s very wintry and grim, but I love it.
corbies=crows (or ravens)
fail dyke=wall or or bank of turf
hause-bane=neck bone