April 5 An Old Ballad

Masefield knew too, our old anonymous ballads, and caught their spirit in his own songs of the sea, the disastrous sea crossing from Norway in 1290 AD of Princess Margaret on her way to Scotland in the ship of Sir Patrick Spens was recorded in an old ballad ending thus:

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.