Walking out the other evening I saw the new moon, with the old moon in its arms, and somehow my thoughts went to the ballad Sir Patrick Spens, one of my favourite poems of all time and it somehow came into my head as I walked in the dark, the version from John Leonard’s Six Centuries of Poetry in English but near enough to the one below. The last stanza I still find as powerful as anything in poetry.
‘O whar will I get guid sailor,
To sail this schip of mine?’
‘Sir Patrick Spence is the best sailor
That sails upon the se.’
And sent it to Sir Patrick Spence,
Was walking on the sand.
The next line that Sir Patrick red,
The teir blinded his ee.
To send me out this time o’ the yeir,
To sail upon the se’
‘O say na sae, my master deir,
For I feir a deadlie storme.
And I feir, I feir, my deir master,
That we will cum to harme.’
Bot lang owre a’ the play wer playd,
Their hats they swam aboone.
Or eir they se Sir Patrick Spence
Cum sailing to the land.
Waiting for thair ain deir lords,
For they’ll se thame na mair.
Haf owre, haf owre to Aberdour,
It’s fiftie fadom deip,
And thair lies guid Sir Patrick Spence,
Wi the Scots lords at his feit.