Thursday, November 29, 2018

"Sir Patrick Spens," anonymous ballad


[version A]

1  The king sits in Dumferling toune,
        Drinking the blude-reid wine:
    ‘O whar will I get guid sailor,
        To sail this schip of mine?’

2  Up and spak an eldern knicht,
        Sat at the kings richt kne:
    ‘Sir Patrick Spence is the best sailor
        That sails upon the se.’

3  The king has written a braid letter,
        And signd it wi his hand,
    And sent it to Sir Patrick Spence,
        Was walking on the sand.

4  The first line that Sir Patrick red,
        A loud lauch lauched he;
    The next line that Sir Patrick red,
        The teir blinded his ee.

5  ‘O wha is this has don this deid,
        This ill deid don to me,
    To send me out this time o’ the yeir,
        To sail upon the se!

6  ‘Mak hast, mak haste, my mirry men all,
        Our guid schip sails the morne:’
    ‘O say na sae, my master deir,
        For I feir a deadlie storme.

7  ‘Late late yestreen I saw the new moone,
        Wi the auld moone in hir arme,
    And I feir, I feir, my deir master,
        That we will cum to harme.’

8  O our Scots nobles wer richt laith
        To weet their cork-heild schoone;
    Bot lang owre a’ the play wer playd,
        Their hats they swam aboone.

9  O lang, lang may their ladies sit,
        Wi thair fans into their hand,
    Or eir they se Sir Patrick Spence
        Cum sailing to the land.

10  O lang, lang may the ladies stand,
        Wi thair gold kems in their hair,
    Waiting for thair ain deir lords,
        For they’ll se thame na mair.

11  Haf owre, haf owre to Aberdour,
        It’s fiftie fadom deip,
    And thair lies guid Sir Patrick Spence,
        Wi the Scots lords at his feit.

Source of the text – The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Vol. II., edited by Francis James Child. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1965, p. 20-21.

TJB: Those are plurals that were his eyes. Rich in dialogue, rich in poetic doublets, this sea shanty gorgeously, musically, compresses its narrative.

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