Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
Sir Patrick Spens
THE KING sits in Dunfermline town,
  Drinking the blude-red wine:
“O where will I get a skeely skipper
  To sail this new ship of mine?”
O up and spake an eldern knight,        5
  Sat at the king’s right knee:
“Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor
  That ever sailed the sea.”
Our king has written a braid letter,
  And sealed it with his hand,        10
And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens,
  Was walking on the strand.
“To Noroway, to Noroway,
  To Noroway o’er the faem;
The king’s daughter of Noroway,        15
  ’Tis 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 blindit his e’e.        20
“O wha is this 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,        25
  Our ship must sail the faem;
The king’s daughter of Noroway,
  ’Tis we must fetch her hame.”
They hoysed their sails on Monenday morn
  Wi’ a’ the speed they may;        30
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        35
  Began aloud to say:
“Ye Scottishmen spend a’ our king’s gowd
  And a’ our queené’s fee.”
“Ye lie, ye lie, ye liars loud!
  Fu’ loud I hear ye lie!        40
“For I hae brought as much white monie
  As gane my men and me,
And I hae brought a half-fou o’ gude red gowd
  Out owre the sea wi’ me.
“Make ready, make ready, my merry men a’!        45
  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;        50
And if we gang to sea, master,
  I fear we’ll come to harm.”
They hadna sailed a league, a league,
  A league, but barely three,
When the lift grew dark, and the wind blew loud,        55
  And gurly grew the sea.
The ankers brak, and the topmasts lap,
  It was sic a deadly storm;
And the waves came o’er the broken ship
  Till a’ her sides were torn.        60
“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,        65
  To take the helm in hand,
Till you go up to the tall topmast,—
  But I fear you’ll ne’er spy land.”
He hadna gane a step, a step,
  A step, but barely ane,        70
When a boult 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        75
  And let na 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.        80
O laith, laith were our gude Scots lords
  To weet their cork-heeled shoon!
But lang or a’ the play was played,
  They wat their hats aboon.
And mony was the feather-bed        85
  That floated on the faem;
And mony was the gude lord’s son
  That never mair came hame.
The ladyes wrange their fingers white,
  The maidens tore their hair;        90
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        95
  Come sailing to the strand!
And lang lang may the maidens sit,
  Wi’ their gowd kaims in their hair,
A’ waiting for their ain dear loves,
  For them they’ll see na mair.        100
O forty miles off Aberdeen
  ’Tis fifty fathoms deep,
And there lies gude Sir Patrick Spens
  Wi’ the Scots lords at his feet.

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