Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Burning Breast

If you live in an area of the world where fags aren't necessarily smokable and your fillet most likely doesn't rhyme with skillet, you may not be familiar with the robin legend(s).

The "humble bird" beat his wings to fan the fire that kept the baby jesus warm... it is also said robin visited when He was dying on the famous roman torture device so many like to wear around there necks....

..some conclude the story hails from Pagan beliefs. In any case, I love illustrations of the famed robin who in some versions was burned by said fire, making his breast eternally rosy.

Not completely unrelated is 'Who killed cock robin?' described as an English folksong. The words of "Who killed cock robin" are said to refer to the death of the legendary figure of Robin Hood and not that of a bird. The legend of Robin Hood encompasses the theme that he stole from the rich to give to the poor. The words of "Who killed cock robin" describe how help was offered from all quarters following the death of cock robin thus reflecting the high esteem in which Robin was held by the common folk.

"Who killed Cock Robin?" "I," said the Sparrow,
"With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin."
"Who saw him die?" "I," said the Fly,
"With my little eye, I saw him die."
"Who caught his blood?" "I," said the Fish,
"With my little dish, I caught his blood."
"Who'll make the shroud?" "I," said the Beetle,
"With my thread and needle, I'll make the shroud."
"Who'll dig his grave?" "I," said the Owl,
"With my pick and shovel, I'll dig his grave."
"Who'll be the parson?" "I," said the Rook,
"With my little book, I'll be the parson."
"Who'll be the clerk?" "I," said the Lark,
"If it's not in the dark, I'll be the clerk."
"Who'll carry the link?" "I," said the Linnet,
"I'll fetch it in a minute, I'll carry the link."
"Who'll be chief mourner?" "I," said the Dove,
"I mourn for my love, I'll be chief mourner."
"Who'll carry the coffin?" "I," said the Kite,
"If it's not through the night, I'll carry the coffin."
"Who'll bear the pall? "We," said the Wren,
"Both the cock and the hen, we'll bear the pall."
"Who'll sing a psalm?" "I," said the Thrush,
"As she sat on a bush, I'll sing a psalm."
"Who'll toll the bell?" "I," said the bull,
"Because I can pull, I'll toll the bell."
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin.