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Sir Patrick Spens

No: 58; variant: 58I

Source: Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, I, 1; Motherwell's MS., p. 550.

  1. The king sits in Dumfermline town, A-drinking at the wine; Says, Where will I get a good skipper, Will sail the saut seas fine?
  2. Out it speaks an eldren knight Amang the companie: ‘Young Patrick Spens is the best skipper That ever saild the sea.’
  3. The king he wrote a braid letter, And seald it wi his ring; Says, Ye’ll gie that to Patrick Spens, See if ye can him find.
  4. He sent this not wi an auld man, Nor yet a simple boy, But the best o nobles in his train This letter did convoy.
  5. When Patrick lookd the letter upon A light laugh then gae he; But ere he read it till an end, The tear blinded his ee.
  6. Ye’ll eat and drink, my merry men a’, An see ye be weell thorn; For blaw it weet, or blaw it wind, My guid ship sails the morn.’
  7. Then out it speaks a guid auld man, A guid death mat he dee’ ‘Whatever ye do, my guid master, Tak God your guide to bee.
  8. ‘For late yestreen I saw the new moon, The auld moon in her arm:’ ‘Ohon, alas’’ says Patrick Spens, ‘That bodes a deadly storm.
  9. ‘But I maun sail the seas the morn, And likewise sae maun you; To Noroway, wi our king’s daughter, A chosen queen she’s now.
  10. ‘But I wonder who has been sae base As tauld the king o mee; Even tho he ware my ae brither, An ill death mat he dee’’
  11. Now Patrick he riggd out his ship, And sailed ower the faem, But mony a dreary thought had hee, While hee was on the main.
  12. They hadna saild upon the sea A day but barely three, Till they came in sight o Noroway, It’s there where they must bee.
  13. They hadna stayed into that place A month but and a day, Till he causd the flip in mugs gae roun, And wine in cans sae gay.
  14. The pipe and harp sae sweetly playd, The trumpets loudly soun; In every hall where in they stayd, Wi their mirth did reboun.
  15. Then out it speaks an auld skipper, An inbearing dog was hee: ‘Ye’ve stayd ower lang in Noroway, Spending your king’s monie.’
  16. Then out it speaks Sir Patrick Spens: ‘O how can a’ this bee? I hae a bow o guid red gowd Into my ship wi mee.
  17. ‘But betide me well, betide me wae, This day I’se leave the shore, And never spend my king’s monie Mong Noroway dogs no more.’
  18. Young Patrick hee is on the sea, And even on the faem, Wi five-an-fifty Scots lords’ sons, That langd to bee at hame.
  19. They hadna saild upon the sea A day but barely three, Till loud and boistrous grew the wind, And stormy grew the sea.
  20. ‘O where will I get a little wee boy Will tak my helm in hand, Till I gae up to my tapmast, And see for some dry land?’
  21. He hadna gane to his tapmast A step but barely three, Ere thro and thro the bonny ship’s side He saw the green haw sea.
  22. ‘There are five-an-fifty feather beds Well packed in ae room; And ye’ll get as muckle guid canvas As wrap the ship a’ roun.
  23. ‘Ye’ll pict her well, and spare her not, And mak her hale and soun:’ But ere he had the word well spoke The bonny ship was down.
  24. O laith, laith were our guid lords’ sons To weet their milk-white hands; But lang ere a’ the play was ower, They wat their gowden bands.
  25. O laith, laith were our Scots lords’ sons To weet their coal-black shoon; But lang ere a’ the play was ower, They wat their hats aboon.
  26. It’s even ower by Aberdour It’s fifty fathoms deep, And yonder lies Sir Patrick Spens, And a’s men at his feet.
  27. It’s even ower by Aberdour, There’s mony a craig and fin, And yonder lies Sir Patrick Spens, Wi mony a guid lord’s son.
  28. Lang, lang will the ladyes look, Into their morning weed, Before they see young Patrick Spens Come sailing ower the fleed.
  29. Lang, lang will the ladyes look, Wi their fans in their hand, Before they see him Patrick Spens Come sailing to dry land.