Sir Patrick Spens Questions and Answers

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Sir Patrick Spens Summary

Will someone please summarize "Sir Patrick Spens"?

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"Sir Patrick Spens" is a traditional ballad that may be very distantly based on thirteenth-century events. Eighteen versions of the ballad were collected from oral performers by the distinguished American folklore scholar Francis James Child (February 1, 1825–September 11, 1896). As with most oral traditional works, there is no one authoritative version, but rather the ballad evolved over a long period in the performances of generations of singers.

The ballad is written in four-line stanzas rhyming ABCB, that is with the second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyming. The lines alternate between iambic tetrameter (odd lines) and iambic trimeter (even lines).

The ballad is told in the third person and includes both narration and dialogue. It tells the story of a Scottish king seeking a great sailor to bring his daughter home from Norway despite it being a dangerous time of year for a voyage. Sir Patrick Spens is mentioned as the greatest sailor of the kingdom and is selected for the...

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