a critical analysis of sir tanker spens the ballad
‘Sir Patrick Spens’ is, in most cases, an archetypal early on ballad becoming composed in quatrains, with the standard alternating four-stress and three-stress lines and the second and fourth line of each stanza rhyming. The poem is set in medias vaca, telling absolutely of a tragedy, possibly based on two voyages in the thirteenth-century on which Scottish noblemen transported beaufitul princesses to royal marriages, with many members of Alexander III’s daughter Margaret’s escort too much water on the journey home. The theme of tragedy and having a plot structured on local history are both components often found in the ballad form.
Nevertheless , the composition does also defy characteristics of the traditional ballad; it includes a third person narrative tone that is not necessarily impartial, which contradicts the commonly impersonal, distanced narration frequently found in this genre of poetry. There is an example of a satirical look at of the bigger classes, mocking the king’s decision to not withhold the voyage and also mocking the very fact that the noble boarded the ship, for if they had not, then the disaster would have recently been avoided.
The dark connaissance found in the personification of their hats that ‘swam aboon'(line 32) exemplifies a view not particularly sympathetic with the too much water victims, which will coupled with the idea that ‘the play were played'(line 31) implies the inevitability that this could be the situation, clearly signifying a mockery of the decisions built by the higher classes. Early on ballads typically contain strong regional dialect as they had been originally orally transmitted. This kind of dialect gives the reader a strong idea of the origins of the ballad and lends a sense of authenticity to the text, reaffirming the typicality of this particular ballad, being a further reference to it’s foundations in local record.
The vernacular can also be used as a tool to highlight sections of the ballad, for instance , when it is used to describe the King having blood-red wines or ‘blude-reid wine’ (line 2). This kind of strong picture is prefigurative of the tragic closing of the composition and echoes the previously displayed proven fact that the narrator feels the king is responsible for this misfortune. The narrator’s view displays the idea of ‘power without responsibility’ which makes this ballad relatively ahead of its time. It was rare that royalty were questioned if the ballad form flourished in Scotland from the fifteenth century onward. This notion that the composition is quite a ahead of it’s time implies that at least this ballad negates the view of Ben Johnson’s dictum ‘a poet ought to detest a ballad maker' as clearly here the first ballad displays a brilliant employ in it’s capacity to convey a person’s personal political view in a rather active method, passing on their message by word of mouth and challenging the accepted.