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Sir Patrick Spens


This is a tale of extreme loyalty and self sacrifice. The namesake of the ballad - Sir Patrick Spens - is called upon by the king to sail to Norway and fetch his daughter.

Sir Patrick has been set up by one of the knights closest to the king who, in his jealousy, has recommended Sir Patrick to sail to Norway despite the threat of an impending storm.

Sir Patrick, in his loyalty to the king, decides to sail regardless; this decision was a badly informed one - read on to discover Sir Patrick's fate.

The king sits in Dumfermline town.
Drinking the blude-red wine: O
'O whare will I get a skeely skipper,
To sail this new ship of mine?'

O up and spake an eldern knight,
Sat at the king's right knee:
'Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor
That ever saild the sea.'

Our king has written a braid letter,
And seald it with his hand,
And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens,
Was walking on the strand.

'To Noroway, to Noroway,
To Noroway oer the faem;
The king's daughter of Noroway,
'T is thou maun bring her hame.'

The first word that Sir Patrick read,
Sae loud, loud laughed he;
The neist word that Sir Patrick read,
The tear blinded his ee.

'O wha is this that has done this deed,
And tauld the king o me,
To send us out at this time of the year
To sail upon the sea?'

'Be it wind, be it weet, be it hail, be it sleet,
Our ship must sail the faem;
The king's daughter of Noroway,
'T is we must fetch her hame.'

They hoysed thir sails on Monenday morn,
Wi a' the speed they may;
They hae landed in Noroway,
Upon a Wodensday.

They hadna been a week, a week
In Noroway but twae,
When that the lords o Noroway
Began aloud to say:

'Ye Scottishmen spend a' our king's goud,
And a' our queenis fee!'
'Ye lie, ye lie, ye liars loud,
Fu loud I hear ye lie!

'For I brought as much white monie
As gane my men and me
And I brought a half-fou o gude red goud
Out oer the sea wi me.

'Make ready, make ready, my merrymen a',
Our gude ship sails the morn:'
'Now, ever alake! my master dear,
I fear a deadly storm!

'I saw the new moon late yestreen,
Wi the auld moon in her arm;
And if we gang to sea, master,
I fear we'll come to harm.'

They hadna saild a league, a league,
A league but barely three,
When the lift grew dark, and the wind blew loud,
And gurly grew the sea.

The ankers brak, and the topmasts lap,
It was sic a deadly storm,
And the waves came oer the broken ship,
Till a' her sides were torn.

'O where will I get a gude sailor,
To take my helm in hand,
Till I get up to the tall topmast;
To see if I can spy land?'

'O here am I, a sailor gude,
To take the helm in hand,
Till you go up the tall topmast;
But I fear you'll neer spy land.'

He hadna gane a step, a step,
A step but barely ane,
When a bout flew out of our goodly ship,
And the salt sea it came in.

'Gae fetch a web o the silken claith,
Another o the twine,
And wap them into our ship's side,
And letna the sea come in.'

They fetched a web o the silken claith,
Another o the twine,
And they wapped them roun that gude ship's side,
But still the sea came in.

O laith, laith were our gude Scots lords
To weet their cork-heeld shoon;
But lang or a' the play was playd,
They wat their hats aboon.

Any mony was the feather-bed
That flattered on the faem,
And mony was the gude lord's son
That never mair cam hame.

The ladyes wrang their fingers white,
The maidens tore their hair,
A' for the sake of their true loves,
For them they'll see na mair.

O lang, lang may the ladyes sit,
Wi their fans into their hand,
Before they see Sir Patrick Spens
Come sailing to the strand.

An lang, lang may the maidens sit,
Wi their goud kaims in their hair,
A' waiting for their ain dear loves,
For them they'll see na mair.

O forty miles off Aberdour
'T is fifty fathoms deep,
And there lies gude Sir Patrick Spens,
Wi the Scots lords at his feet.


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