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The Crow


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

The crow figures much in Welsh folk-lore. In many ways he is made to
resemble the magpie; thus, when one crow or one magpie was seen, it was
thought to foretell misfortune, as implied by the saying:--

Un fran ddu,
Lwc ddrwg i mi.

But should the spectator shout out in a defiant way:--

Hen fran ddu,
Gras Duw i mi,

no harm would follow. The former lines in English would be:--

One crow I see,
Bad luck to me.

But this foretold evil, brought about by the old black crow, could be
counteracted by repeating the following words, (a translation of the
second couplet), with a pause between each line, and thus the last line
would assume the form of a prayer:--

Old Black Crow!
God, grace bestow;

or the evil could be hurled back upon the Old Black Crow by the
repetition of these words:--

Hen fran ddu,
Gras Duw i mi,
Lwc ddrwg i ti.

Freely translated, these lines would be:--

Old Black Crow!
God's grace to me,
Bad luck to thee.

In the English-speaking parts of Wales, such as along the borders of
Montgomeryshire, adjoining Shropshire, I have heard the following
doggerel lines substituted for the Welsh:--

Crow, crow, get out of my sight,
Before I kill thee to-morrow night.

The bad luck implied by the appearance of one crow could also be
overcome, as in the case of the magpie, by making a cross on the ground,
with finger or stick.

Although one crow implied bad luck, two crows meant good luck; thus we
have these lines:--

Dwy fran ddu,
Lwc dda i mi.

Two black crows,
Good luck to me.

Many prognostications were drawn from the appearance of crows. A crow
seen on the highest branch of a tree implied that the person seeing it
should shortly see his or her sweetheart. The manner in which they flew
foretold a wedding or a burying. When they fly in a long line there is
to be a wedding, if crowded together a funeral.

There is a common expression in Montgomeryshire--Dwy fran dyddyn--The
two crows of the farm--just as if each farm had its two crows, either as
guardians of the farm--for two crows implied good luck--or as if they
were located by couples in various places, which places became their
feeding ground and homes. This, however, is not true of rooks, which
feed in flocks and roost in flocks.

Next: Crows' Feathers

Previous: The Goose

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