From the recording Timber And Stream
© Richard Thompson & David Swarbrick
Sonya Baughman: lead vocals, tinwhistle
Mark Clavey: vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: vocals, hammered dulcimer
Richard Thompson and David Swarbrick wrote this song in 1969. It first appeared on Fairport Convention's third release, "Liege and Lief", and has perennially been one of their most captivating pieces. It is a tragic tale in which madness or fate conspires against Michael and his love, who dies by his hand. In the custom that a truly gripping theme will resurface over time, this song brings to mind the tale of "Polly Vaughan" who, being mistaken for a swan, was shot by her fiancé.
Within the fire and out upon the sea crazy-man Michael went walking. He met with a raven with eyes black as coals, and shortly they fell a-talking. "Your future, your future I will tell to you, your future you often have asked me. Your true-love will die by your own right hand and crazy-man Michael will cursèd be."
Michael, he ranted and, Michael, he raved, and he beat at the winds with his fists-o. He laughed and he cried, he shouted and he swore for his mad mind had trapped him with a kiss-o. "You speak with an evil, you speak with a hate, you speak for the devil that haunts me. For is she not the fairest in all the broad lands? Your sorcerer's words are to taunt me."
He took out his dagger of fire and of steel and he struck down the raven through the heart-o. The bird fluttered long, and the sky it did spin, and the cold earth did wonder and start-o. "Oh where is the raven that I struck down dead, that here did lie on the ground-o? I see but my true-love with a wound so red," where her lover's heart it did pound-o.
Crazy-man Michael, he wonders and calls, and he talks to the night and the day-o. But his eyes they are sane, and his speech it is clear, and he longs to be far away-o. Michael he whistles the simplest of tunes and asks of the wild winds their pardon, for his true-love is flown into every flower grown and he must be the keeper of the garden.