Tam Lin Balladry

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Tam Lin: 39H

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

cites: Campbell MSS, II, 129

Title: Tam Lane

Site reference number: 8


Janet orders horses saddled so she may travel to carterhaugh to gather flowers. Once there, she speaks with Tam Lane regarding a child they have conceived together. Tam Lane informs her of how he may be taken from the fairies. Janet follows his instructions, and at the end the Queen of Fairies states that as he is gone she will likely be the one fed to hell.

Tam Lane

  1. I forbid ye, maidens a',
    That wears gowd in your hair,
    To come or gang by Carterhauah,
    For young Tam Lane is there.
  2. I forbid ye, maidens a'.
    That wears gowd in your green,
    To come or gang by Carterhaugh,
    For fear of young Tam Lane.
  3. 'Go saddle for me the black,' says Janet,
    Go saddle for me the brown,
    And I 'll away to Carterhaugh,
    And flower mysell the gown.
  4. Go saddle for me the brown,' says Janet,
    'Go saddle for me the black,
    And I'll away to Carterhaugh,
    And flower mysel a hat.'
  5. She had not pu'd a flowr, a flowr,
    A flower but only three
    Till up there startit young Tam Lane,
    Just at bird Janet's knee.
  6. 'Why pullst thou the herb, Janet
    And why breaks thou the tree?
    'Why put you back the bonny babe
    That's between you and me
  7. 'If my child was to an earthly man,
    As it is to a wild buck rae,
    I would wake him the length of the winter's night
    And the lea land simmer's day.'
  8. The night is Halloween. Janet,
    When our gude neighbours will ride,
    And them that would their true-love win
    At Blackning Cross maun bide.
  9. Many will the black ride by,
    And many will the brown,
    But I ride on a milk-white steed,
    And ride nearest the town:
    Because I was a christened knight
    They gie me that renown.
  10. 'Many will the black ride by,
    But far mae will the brown;
    When ye see the milk-white stead,
    Grip fast and pull me down.
  11. Take in yer arms, Janet,
    An ask, an adder lang
    The grip ye get ye maun haud fast,
    I'll be father to your bairn.
  12. Take me in your arms, Janet,
    an adder and a snake ;
    The grip ye get ye maun haud fast,
    I'll be your warld's make.'
  13. Up bespak the Queen of Fairies
    She spak baith loud and high:
    Had I kend the day at noon
    Tam Lane had been won from me,
  14. I wad hae taen out his heart o flesh,
    Put in a heart o tree,
    That a' the maids o Middle Middle Mist
    Should neer hae taen Tam Lane frae me.'
  15. Up bespack the Queen of Fairies,
    And she spak wi a loud yell:
    Aye at every seven year's end
    We pay the kane to hell.
    And the koors they hae gane round about,
    And I fear it will be mysel.'

Version Notes

While Janet says she is going to Carterhaugh for flowers and picks flowers in the verse, Tam Lane scolds her for pulling herbs and Janet is already pregnant

Janet does not call Tam Lane a faerie but a 'wild buck rae', and Tam Lane calls them 'gude neighbors'


Added to site: October 1997