Sunday, 3 January 2016

Devil, devil, I defy thee...

When I first arrived in Newfoundland, back in the early 90s, there were seven mural panels on Duckworth Street in St. John's that featured a growing number of crows accompanied by the words from this song's chorus. Alas, despite the ubiquity of the crow (very few magpies) and folklore traditions in that province, the mural was replaced with something less...imaginative.

I give you, Magpie, by the Unthanks from their awesome album, Mount the Air.


One's for sorrow, two's for joy
Three's for a girl and four's for a boy
Five's for silver, six for gold
Seven's for a secret never told
Devil, devil, I defy thee
Devil, devil, I defy thee
Devil, devil, I defy thee

 Oh, the magpie brings us tidings
 Of news both fair and foul
 She’s more cunning than the raven
 More wise than any owl
And she brings us news of the harvest
Of the Barley, wheat and corn
And she knows when we’ll go to our graves
And how we shall be born


She brings us joy when from the right
And grief when from the left
Of all the birds that are in the air
We know and trust her best
For she sees us at our labour
And she mocks us at our work
And she steals the eggs from out of the nest
And she can mob the hawk.


Oh, the priest he says we’re wicked
To worship the devil’s bird
Ah, but we respect the old ways
And disregard his word
And we know they rest uneasy
As we slumber in the night
And we'll always leave out a little bit of meat
For the bird that’s black and white