Sir Patrick Spens

Melody -

The king sits in Dunfermline toon,
A-drinkin' at the wine,
And he has ca'd for the finest skipper
In Fife and a' the land.

Then oot it spak an auld carle,
Stood by the king's ain knee,
Said: "Patrick Spens is the strangest sailor
That ever sailed the sea."

The king has screivit a lang letter,
And signed it wi's ain hand;
And sent it to young Patrick Spens,
Was walking on Leith sands.

To Norrowa', to Narrowa',
To Norrowa' owre the faem;
The king's dochter o' Norrowa',
'Tis ye maun bring her hame.

When he leukit the letter on,
A muckle laugh gaed he,
But ere he's done the readin' o't,
The tears blinded his e'e.

"O wha is it's done this fell deed
And telt the king o' me?
Although it were my ain faither,
An ill deith may he dee."

They hadna been in Norrowa'
A week but barely three,
When a' the lords o' Morrowa'
Did up and spak' sae free.

"These ootland Scots waste oor king's gowd
And swollow oor Queen's fee."
"Weary fa' the tongue that spak'
Sic a muckle lee."
  "Tak' tent, tak' tent my guid men a',
And see ye be weel forn,
For come it wind or come it hail,
Oor guid ship sails the morn."

Then oot it spak the weatherman:
"I fear we'll a' be drooned,
For I saw the new mune late yestreen
Wi' the:auld mune in her airms."

They hadna sailed abune an hour,
An hour but and a half,
When the lift grew laich and the wind blew haigh,
And the ship it was a wrack.

"O whaur will I get a bonnie lad
To tak' my steer in hand?
While I climb up the high tap-mast
To see if I can spy land."

He hadna gane a step, a step,
A step but darely ane,
When the bows o' our guidly ship did brak"
And the saut sea it cam' in.

O laith, laith, ere oor guid Scots lairds
To wat their cork-heeled shoon,
But lang ere a' the ploy was done
They wat their hats abune.

O lang, lang will our ladies sit
Wi' their fans intil their hands,
Before they see Sir Patrick Spens
Come sailing to the land.

Half owre, half owre to Aberdour,
Where the sea's sae wide and deep,
It's there it lies young Patrick Spens
Wi' the Scots lords at his feet.

It was Bishop Percy who first introduced this ballad to the admiring public. Professor Child questioned the historical reality of the events dealt with in the text; in view, however, of the close alliance which existed between Scotland and Norway, some measure of historical authenticity cannot be entirely ruled out.

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