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Sir Patrick Spens

No: 58; variant: 58C

Source: Motherwell's MS., p. 493, "from the recitation of Buchanan, alias Mrs Notman, 9 September, 1826."

  1. The king sat in Dunfermline toun, Drinking the blude red wine: ‘Where will I get a bold sailor, To sail this ship o mine?’
  2. Out then spak an auld auld knicht, Was nigh the king akin: ‘Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor That ever sailed the main.’
  3. The king’s wrote a large letter, Sealed it with his own hand, And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens, Was walking on dry land.
  4. The first three lines he looked on, The tears did blind his ee; The neist three lines he looked on Not one word could he see.
  5. ‘Wha is this,’ Sir Patrick says, ‘That’s tauld the king o me, To set me out this time o the year To sail upon the sea’
  6. ‘Yestreen I saw the new new mune, And the auld mune in her arm; And that is the sign since we were born Even of a deadly storm.
  7. ‘Drink about, my merry boys, For we maun sail the morn; Be it wind, or be it weet, Or be it deadly storm.’
  8. We hadna sailed a league, a league, A league but only ane, Till cauld and watry grew the wind, And stormy grew the main.
  9. We hadna sailed a league, a league, A league but only twa, Till cauld and watry grew the wind, Come hailing owre them a’.
  10. We hadna sailed a league, a league, A league but only three, Till cold and watry grew the wind, And grumly grew the sea.
  11. ‘Wha will come,’ the captain says, ‘And take my helm in hand? Or wha’ll gae up to my topmast, And look for some dry land?
  12. ‘Mount up, mount up, my pretty boy, See what you can spy; Mount up, mount up, my pretty boy, See if any land we’re nigh.’
  13. ‘We’re fifty miles from shore to shore, And fifty banks of sand; And we have all that for to sail Or we come to dry land.’
  14. ‘Come down, come down, my pretty boy, I think you tarry lang; For the saut sea’s in at our coat-neck And out at our left arm.
  15. ‘Come down, come down, my pretty boy, I fear we here maun die; For thro and thro my goodly ship I see the green-waved sea.’
  16. Our Scotch lords were all afraid To weet their cork-heeled shoon; But lang or a’ the play was played, Their hats they swam abune.
  17. The first step that the captain stept, It took him to the knee, And the next step that the captain stepped They were a’ drownd in the sea.
  18. Half owre, half owre to Aberdour It’s fifty fadoms deep, And there lay good Sir Patrick Spens, And the Scotch lords at his feet.
  19. Lang may our Scotch lords’ ladies sit, And sew their silken seam, Before they see their good Scotch lords Come sailing owre the main.
  20. Lang lang may Sir Patrick’s lady Sit rocking her auld son, Before she sees Sir Patrick Spens Come sailing owre the main.