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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX. 1876–79.

Introductory to Greece

Song of the Crow

By Anonymous

  • All persons and all things in Greece seem to have had their own peculiar songs,—ploughmen, reapers, millers, weavers, shepherds, etc., as may be seen in Athenæus, XIV. 619. Even the poor unpopular crow could boast of one, and persons went about begging in his name, and piping in strains suitable to his habits and disposition. “The crows,” says Mr. Mitchell, “appear to have been in great disfavor with the Athenians; they had the fee-simple of all that society wished to eject from itself; and thus stood to the Greeks somewhat in the relation of that malignant person, who, according to Rabelais, breakfasts on the souls of sergeant-at-arms fricasseed. This song will show that the dislike to the crow did not prevail universally among the Greeks, but that the same use was made of him in some parts, as in others was made of the swallow.”—Peter’s Poets and Poetry of Greece and Rome.

  • LORDS and ladies, for your ear

    We have a petitioner;

    Name and lineage would ye know?

    ’T is Apollo’s child, the Crow;

    Waiting till your hands dispense

    Gift of barley, salt, or pence.

    He ’s not one who picks and chooses;

    Naught that ’s proffered he refuses.

    Who, to-day, gives salt, he knows

    Next day fig or honey throws.

    Open, open, gate and door:

    Mark! the moment we implore,

    Comes the daughter of the squire

    With such figs as wake desire.

    Maiden, for this favor done,

    May thy fortunes, as they run,

    Ever brighten. Be thy spouse

    Rich, and of a noble house;

    May thy sire, in aged ease,

    Nurse a boy who calls thee mother;

    And his grandam, on her knees,

    Rock a girl, who calls him brother;

    Kept as bride, in reservation,

    For some favored near relation.

    But enough now; I must tread

    Where my feet and eyes are led;

    Dropping at each door a strain,

    Let me lose my suit or gain.

    Then search, worthy gentles, the cupboard’s close nook;

    To the lord, and still more to the lady, we look:

    Custom warrants the suit;—let it still then bear sway;

    And your Crow, as in duty most bounden, shall pray.