A Literature Lesson. Sir Patrick Spens In the Eighteenth Century Manner

Original Text: 
Laughter from a Cloud, foreword by Hilary Raleigh (London: Constable, 1923): 207-08. British Library 012273.bbb.7
2A prosperous port contiguous to the strand,
3A monarch feasted in right royal state;
4But care still dogs the pleasures of the Great,
5And well his faithful servants could surmise
6From his distracted looks and broken sighs
7That though the purple bowl was circling free,
8His mind was prey to black perplexity.
9At last, while others thoughtless joys invoke,
10Fierce from his breast the laboured utterance broke;
11"Alas!" he cried, "and what to me the gain
12Though I am king of all this fair domain,
16Neglects my sceptre and denies my sway?
17On a far mission must my vessels urge
18Their course impetuous o'er the boiling surge;
19But who shall guide them with a dextrous hand,
20And bring them safely to that distant land?
21Whose skill shall dare the perils of the deep,
22And beard the Sea-god in his stormy keep?
23He spake: and straightway, rising from his side
24An ancient senator, of reverend pride,
25Unsealed his lips, and uttered from his soul
26Great store of flatulence and rigmarole;
27-- All fled the Court, which shades of night invest,
* * * *


1] Caledonia: Scotland.
"Sir Patrick Spens," an anonymous ballad written in Scots. Back to Line
13] Ceres: Roman gonoteess of the harvest or agriculture. Back to Line
14] Bacchus: Greek god of wine. Back to Line
15] Neptune: Roman god of the sea. Back to Line
28] Alexander Pope, John Gay, and Matthew Prior, all 18th-century poets. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2001