What is the theme of the poem “Sir Patrick Spence” and what line would suggest that?

Ask a QuestionCategory: Prose QuestionWhat is the theme of the poem “Sir Patrick Spence” and what line would suggest that?
kyla asked 2 years ago

What is the theme of this poem and what line would suggest that?

1 Answers
smartenglishnotes Staff answered 2 years ago
“Sir Patrick Spens” is one of the most popular of the Child Ballads. It is a maritime ballad about a disaster at sea. Ballads tell mostly tragic stories. Loyalty is a central theme as it relates to both Sir Patrick and his crew.  Sir Patrick Spens, a Scottish nobleman, is an excellent, skilful and brave sailor, who is loyal to his king and fulfils his duty even though he knows he will perish in the North Sea. His men also acquiesce without protest, because they are loyal to Sir Patrick.(line 3-4)

“Sir Patrick Spens” explores two more important themes. One is mortality: people are born and must die. This is related to the second theme, the role of fate or accident in peoples’ lives. Ballads may or may not have some basis in fact. First, Sir Patrick refuses to believe the fateful notice he is given. Then “the teir blinded his ee,” and he is overcome by sorrow. He becomes angry, crying out, with a touch of paranoia, that someone must be out to get him, “to send me out this time o’ year, / to sail upon the sea.” But no one can choose the time death calls. And despite the omens of doom that his men point out and their desire to avoid death, Sir Patrick and his crew must accept their fate.