Tuesday, 5 January 2010

McGonagall Meets Sir Patrick Spens

Many of you will know the ballad “Sir Patrick Spens” but, until a few days ago, all I knew were the first two lines:

The king sits in Dumferling toun

Drinking the blude-reid wine”

or some variant with different spellings. This all changed when, a couple of days before Christmas, Poor Mouth posted a poem by McGonagall. There and then I felt a McGonagall-esque poem coming forth from my fingertips and, for some unknown reason, the two lines above popped into my head. That was it. I had become Calum McGonagall writing about Sir Patrick Spens. I was so taken over by McGonagall that I even posted an advert for today’s post.

Sir Patrick Spens was despatched to bring the Maid of Norway and heir to the Scottish throne back from Norway where she was born. The mission failed – different versions give different reasons for failure. Sir Patrick Spens drowned and the princess never reached Scotland.

I have retained only the first line of the original ballad and, hopefully, my story tells itself.

Sir Patrick Spens – Anither Tale

The king sits in Dumferling toun
Staring at the white white snaw
This snaw's sae awfae deep the noo
Ah could be stuckit for a week or twa

I must get oot, the king did say
My princess from far owre the sea
She's comin' frae distant Noroway
She's comin' to mairry me

A bonnie lass, a dainty lass
She was weel kent tae be
Nae wunner the king fancied her 
An’ her years be a score and three

The king kent she'd be comin' soon
As ayeways, the king was richt
Wi' Sir Partick Spens as cap'n
Her boat returned that nicht

Noo she wus nae upsettit
When nane came to greet it
She'd fa'n for the charms o' Sir Patrick
Mair time for them tae sleepit

That nicht the snaw fast meltit
An' the king rode hard an' furious
When he got aboard afore the dawn
The noises made him curious

Whit goes here the king he said
Ye think yer fine and dandy
But ye Sir Patrick an' ma wee lass
Yer jist being awfae randy

The king stampit roon the deck
It's me yer here to marry
But listen tae me the lass she spake
Wi' Sir Patrick Spens I'll tarry

Ye'll come wi me tae Dunfermling toun
The ‘hale story ah'll need to see
Be in nae doot if ahm nae convinced
You twa will surely dee

Noo as they rode back wi the king that morn
The snaw it fell thick again
Sic little time to be thegither
Afore he judged but then ….

Will love triumph owre the king
And a' the plans he cairrit
What can he dae, what will he dae
Will e'r the lovers be mairrit

The king sits in Dumferling toun
Staring at the blude-reid snaw”

Copyright Calumcarr 2010


  1. AN utter gem. Bravo to a new Tayside tragedian!

  2. Thanks, Jams.

    McGonagall's writing quality lives strongly with me!!!!!