Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday Poem: Sir Patrick Spence

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

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

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.

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

"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!

"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.

"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."

O our Scots nobles wer riclit laith
To weet their cork-heild schoone ;
Bot lang owre a' the play wer playd,
Thair hats they swam aboone.'

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.

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.

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.


I was thinking the other day about some of the old narrative poems and ballads which I learnt about in "English I". This is one of them. I was lucky enough to hear it read aloud (fittingly enough) in the great stone hall in the old Canterbury University campus in Christchurch. Our poetry lecturer was a dramatist and actor and his rendition of this poem (and other ballads) held the large class of students spell-bound.

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