The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #8429   Message #632878
Posted By: Steve Parkes
22-Jan-02 - 08:03 AM
Thread Name: Sir Patrick Spence
Subject: The New Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens
And here, as promised, is The New Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens by "Q" (Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch):

The New Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens

The king sits in Dunferline toun
Drinking the blude-red wine;
"Oh wha will rear me an equilateral triangle
Upon a given straight line?"

O up and spake an eldern knight
Sat at the king's richt knee--
"Of a' the clerks by Granta side,
Sir Patrick bears the gree.

'Twas he was taught by the Tod-huntère,
Tho' not at the tod-hunting;
But gif that he be given a line
He'll do as brave a thing."

The king has writen a braid letter
To Cambrigge or thereby,
And there it found Sir Patrick Spens
Evaluating π

He hadna warked his quotient
A point but barely three,
There stepped to him a little foot page
And louted on his knee.

The first word that Sir Patrick read
"Plus x" was a' he said:
The neist word that Sir Patrick read
'Twas "Plus expenses paid."

The last word that Sir Patrick read,
The tear blinded his e'e:
"The pound I most admire is not
In Scottish currency!"

Stately stepped he east the wa',
And stately stepped he north;
He took a compass frae his ha'
And stood beside the Forth.

Then gurly grew the waves o' Forth
And gurlier by and by;
"Oh never yet was sic a storm;
Yet it isna sic as I!"

Syne he has crossed the Firth o' Forth
Unitl Dunferline toun,
And though he came with a kittle wame,
Fu' low he louted doun.

"A line, a line, a gude straight line,
O king, purvey me quick!"
And see it be of thilka kind
That's neither braid or thick!"

"Nor thick nor braid?" king Jamie said,
"I'll eat my gude hatband
If arra a line as ye define
Be found in our Scotland."

"Though there be nane in a' thy rule,
It sall be ruled by me;"
And lichtly with his little pencil
He's ruled the line AB;

Stately stepped he east the wa',
And stately stepped he west;
"Ye touch trhe button," Sir Patrick said,
"And I sall do the rest."

And he has set his compass foot
Untill the centre A,
From A to B he's stretched it oot--
"Ye Scottish carles, give way!"

Syne he has moved his compass foot
Untill the centre B,
From B to A he's stretched it oot,
And drawn it viz-a-vee.

The ane circle was BCD,
And ACE the tither,
"I rede ye well," Sir Patrick said,
"They intersect ilk ither.

"See here, and where they interseck--
To wit with yon point C--
Ye'll just obsairve that I conneck
The twa points A and B.

"And there ye have a little triangle
A bonny as e'er was seen;
The whilk is not isosceles,
Nor yet it is scalene."

"The proof! The proof!" King Jamie cried:
"The how and eke the why!"
Sir Patrick laughed within his beard--
"'Tis ex hypothesi--

"When I ligg'd in my mither's airms
I learn'd it frae my mither,
That things was equal to the same
Was equal ane to t'ither.

"Sith in the circle first I drew
The lines BA, BC,
Be radii true, I wit to you
That both maun equal be.

"Likewise and in the second circle
Whilk I drew widdershins
It is nae skaith the radii baith
AB, AC be twins.

"And sith of three a pair agree
That ik suld equal ane,
By certes they maun equal be
Ilk unto ilk by-lane."

"Now by my faith!" King Jamie saith,
"What plane geometry!
If only Potts had written in Scots,
How loocid Potts would be!"

"Now, wow's my life!" saith Jamie the King,
And the Scots lords said the same,
For but it was that envious knicht
Sir Hughie o' the Graeme.

"Flim-flam, flim-flam!" and "Ho indeed?"
Quod Hughie o' the Graeme;
"'Tis I could better upon my heid
This prabblin prablem-game."

Sir Patrick Spens was nothing laith
When as he heard "flim-flam,"
But syne he's ta'en a silken claith
And wiped his diagram.

"Gif that my feat may bettered be,
Sir Hew, by thy big head,
What I hae done with an ABC
Do thou with XYZ."         [Note: zed, not zee]

Then sairly sairly swore Sir Hew,
And loudly laucht the King;
But Sir Patrick tuk the pipes and blew,
And played that eldritch thing!

He's play'd it reel, he's play'd it jig,
And the baith alternative;
And he's danced Sir Hew to the Asses' Brigg,
That's Proposeetion Five.

And there they've met and there they've fet,
Forenest the Asses' Brigg,
And waefu', waefu' was the fate
That gar'd them there to ligg.

For there Sir Patrick's slain Sir Hew,
And Sir Hew, Sir Patrick Spens.
Now was not that a fine to-do
For Euclid's Elemen's?

But let us sing Long live the King!
And his foes the Deil attend 'em:
For he has gotten his little triangle,
Qued erat faciendum!