Tam Lin Balladry

A website of folklore and discovery.

The Quiet Mists of Morning

SOURCE: Digital Traditions Data base

cites: Probable authorship Chris Culbert


A woman goes out on a spring morning among the trees. She meets with a young man and becomes his lover. When she awakens afterwards, she is holding a oak tree and it is winter time.

The Quiet Mists of Morning

  1. The elder lass walked out alone
    In the quiet mists of morning.
    The fields were black as the blackest stone
    and the springtime was a coming
  2. She dipped her hand into a stream
    In the quiet mists of morning.
    To look on how the elders leaned
    And the springtime were a coming
  3. She met a gently smiling man
    In the quiet mists of morning.
    He took her softly by the hand
    and the springtime were a flowering
  4. They lay them down in the birchwood glade
    In the quiet mists of morning.
    She were going to be no more a maid
    and the summertime were a coming
  5. He took her up and held her there
    In the quiet mists of morning.
    She were a bird he were a star
    And the summer were a blazing
  6. And when she thought to look at him
    In the quiet mists of morning.
    She held an oak tree in her hand
    And the winter snows were falling


  • A young woman travels to the woods
  • She encounters a young man in the woods
  • The young man takes her by the hand
  • There is a series of transformations


Like Tam Lin, this story is centered around a mortal woman's affair with a creature of the forest. The identity of her lover is not made clear in the tale. It might be a fairy lover, or a dryad (a type of tree-spirit, although usually these were female), or even a human male. However, the imagery of her walking in the transition time of early morning in the transition season of early spring, as well as her disturbance of the water, suggest that this was a guardian of the forest, as Tam Lin is taken to be early in his tale. There is a hint of transformation, as the story refers to her as a bird and he as a star, although this may also be an analogy to lovemaking. The night that lasts several months or longer (sometimes several years) is another common theme in fairy stories, and as we see here, when their time together is done, most of the year has passed. Her lover seems to have been an oak tree of the forest, although the extent to which this is transformation versus the end of a glamour is uncertain.

This is not a traditional ballad, but a more modern writing. It's reasonable to read the story as entirely allegorical, representing, perhaps, the aging of lovers, rather than a more literal reading of enchantment.

Version Notes

See discussion of origins on Digital Traditions. May also be found under the name "The Mysterious Lover"

Added to site: February 2001