Tam Lin Balladry

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Tam Lin: Dave and Toni Arthur Version

Source: Malcolm Douglas

cites: Dave and Toni Arthur

album: Hearken to the Witch's Rune

Title: Tam-a-lin

Site reference number: 25


Fair Margaret plucks flowers in the green woods, which summons a strange man who then ravishes her. She asks his name, and he informs her that he is Tam-a-lin, a captive of the faeries. He had been captured by the Queen of Fairies when he fell from his horse. He now fears that he will be sacrificed to hell, and hopes that the pregnant Margaret will save him. He instructs her to wait at the crossroadsand pull him from his horse when the troop passes by. He will be transformed into beasts but she can win him if she holds onto him. She does all of this, and throws her cloak over him, and saves him from the faeries.


  1. Fair Margaret ran in the merry green wood
    And pulled a flower but one
    When at her side stood young Tam-a-Lin
    Saying, Margaret, leave it alone.
  2. How dare you pull my flowers, madam
    How dare you break my tree
    How dare you run in these green woods
    Without the leave of me
  3. Oh this green wood it is my own
    My father gave it me
    And I can pluck myself a flower
    Without the leave of thee
  4. He took her by the milk-white hand
    And by the grass-green sleeve
    And laid her low down on the flowers
    And asked of her no leave.
  5. And when he'd had his will of her
    Young Margaret she felt shame
    Says, If you are a gentleman
    Pray tell to me your name
  6. Oh Tam-a-Lin is the name, he said
    The Elf Queen gave to me
    And long I've haunted these green woods
    All for your fair body
  7. So do not pluck that herb, Margaret
    That herb that grows so grey
    For that would kill the little babe
    That we've got in our play
  8. When I was a boy just turned of nine
    My uncle sent for me
    To hunt and hawk and ride with him
    And keep him company
  9. Oh drowsy, drowsy as I was
    Dead sleep upon me fell
    And the Queen of Elfin she rode by
    And took me for herself
  10. Tonight it is good Hallowe'en
    The Elfin court will ride
    And they that would their truelove win
    At the crossroads they must hide
  11. The second court that comes along
    Is clad in robes of green
    It is the head court of them all
    For in it rides the Queen
  12. And I upon a milk-white steed
    With a gold star in my crown
    And I do ride beside the Queen
    And you must pull me down
  13. Then I will grow in your two arms
    Like a savage creature wild
    But hold me fast, let me not go
    I'm the father of your child
  14. She took her petticoats in her hand
    Her mantle on her arm
    And to the crossroads she's away
    As fast as she could run
  15. The first court it came riding by
    She heard the bridles ring
    And the second court all dressed in green
    And Tam Lin like a king
  16. She pulled him from his milk-white steed
    He on the ground did lay
    And the Elf Queen gave a shrieking cry
    Young Tam-a-Lin's away, my boys
    Young Tam-a-Lin's away,
  17. And then they turned him in her arms
    To a wolf and to an adder
    She held him fast in every shape
    To be her baby's father
  18. They shaped him in her arms at last
    A mother-naked man
    She wrapped him in her mantle green
    And saw her truelove won
  19. Out then cried the Elfin Queen
    And an angry woman was she
    Saying, You've stolen away the very best knight
    In all my company
  20. Oh had I known, Tam-a-Lin, she says
    What now this night I see
    I would have burned out your two grey eyes
    And put in two from a tree, Tam-a-Lin
    And put in two from a tree.

Version Notes

Supplied to this website sometime back in the late 1990s. This was at least three major website crashes ago. The person who supplied it never wrote again to supply any additional details.

Added to site: October 1999