Tam Lin Balladry

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Tam Lin: 39C

Source: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1882-1898 by Francis James Child

cites: Herd, The Ancient and Modern Scots Songs, 1769, p.300

Title: Tam Lin

Site reference number: 3


Jennet travels to Kertonha. Once there, she is confronted by Thomas, who informs her that he will be sacrificed by the fairies on Halloween night, and gives her information on how he an be saved.

Tam Lin

  1. She's prickt hersell and prind hersell,
    By the ae light o the moon,
    And she's awa to Kertonha,
    As fast as she can gang.
  2. 'What gars ye pu the rose, Jennet?
    What gars ye break the tree
    What gars you gang to Kertonha
    Without the leave of me?'
  3. 'Yes, I will pu the rose, Thomas,
    And I will break the trees
    For Kertonha should be my ain,
    Nor ask I leave of thee.'
  4. 'Full pleasant is the fairy land,
    And happy there to dwell;
    I am a fairy, lyth and limb,
    Fair maiden, view me well.
  5. 'O pleasant is the fairy land,
    How happy there to dwell!
    But ay at every seven years end
    We're a'dung down to hell.
  6. 'The morn is good Halloween,
    And our court a' will ride;
    If ony maiden wins her man,
    Then she may be his bride.
  7. 'But first ye'll let the black gae by,
    And then ye'll let the brown;
    Then I'll ride on a milk-white steed,
    You'll pu me to the ground.
  8. 'And first, I'll grow into your arms
    An esk but and an edder;
    Had me fast, let me not gang,
    I'll be your bairn's father.
  9. 'Next, I'll grow into your arms
    A toad but and an eel;
    Had me fast, le me not gang,
    If you do love me leel.
  10. 'Last, I'll grow into your arms
    A dove but and a swan;
    Then, maiden fair, you'll let me go
    I'll be the perfect man.

Version Notes

This version is a fairly small fragment of the entire tale, consisting of little more than one scene where Jennet meets up with Thomas after pulling roses and he instructs her on how to rescue him.

This scene is set at night "by the ae light o the moon" and has very little to it other than Thomas's lines. It does not include anything more than a passing reference to pregnancy nor the actual scene of rescue.

Thomas does not claim to be a human, but instead identifies himself as a fairy.

Jennet doe not claim to own Kertonha, only that she should own it.

Added to site: October 1997