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The Raven


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

The raven has ever enjoyed a notoriously bad name as a bird of ill-omen.

He was one of those birds which the Jews were to have in abomination
(Lev., xi., 5-13).

But other nations besides the Jews dreaded the raven.

The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of
Duncan under thy battlements.

Macbeth, Act i., s. 5.

Thus wrote Shakespeare, giving utterance to a superstition then common.
From these words it would seem that the raven was considered a sign of
evil augury to a person whose house was about to be entered by a visitor,
for his croaking forebode treachery. But the raven's croaking was
thought to foretell misfortune to a person about to enter another's
house. If he heard the croaking he had better turn back, for an evil
fate awaited him.

In Denmark the appearance of a raven in a village is considered an
indication that the parish priest is to die, or that the church is to be
burnt down that year. (Notes and Queries, vol. ii., second series, p.
325.) The Danes of old prognosticated from the appearance of the raven
on their banners the result of a battle. If the banner flapped, and
exhibited the raven as alive, it augured success; if, however, it moved
not, defeat awaited them.

In Welsh there is a pretty saying:--

Duw a ddarpar i'r fran.

God provides for the raven.

But this, after all, is only another rendering of the lovely words:--

Your heavenly Father feedeth them.

Such words imply that the raven is a favoured bird. (See p. 304).

Next: Robin Redbreast

Previous: Pigeon

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