Tam Lin Balladry
Tam Lin: Anne Briggs Version Young Tambling
Site Reference Number: 26
Source: Performed by Anne Briggs on the album Anne Briggs: A
Summary: Lady Margaret travels to the merry
green wood in search of flowers, where a handsome young man
questions her presence. When she states she ahs the right to be
there, he takes her without her leave. When she returns home, a
young girl observes that Margaret appears to be pregnant, and
another young girl advises her to seek out an herb in the woods to
induce miscarriage. When Margaret goes to pluck the herb, young
Tambling appears and tells her not to use it. When she questions
his origins, he informs her that he is a mortal who was captured by
the Faeries while out hunting at night. He then informs her of how
she can rescue him by waiting for the Faerie court to ride by the
mill bridge that night, Halloween. When she sees the white horse
she must grab the rider and hold him while he transforms. When she
does this, the Elfan court cries out a warning, and the stars
blaze, but Margaret rescues him, much to the anger of the Queen,
who wishes she'd torn out his eyes.
special notes: In this version, when Margaret is
receiving the instructions to rescue Tam Lin, the instructions
shift from first to third person in reference to Young Tambling.
Also, from the narration it isn't clear if Margaret is to capture
the rider on the white horse or the horse itself. No rider is
- Lady Margaret, Lady Margaret, was sewing at her seam
And she's all dressed in black
And the thought come in her head to run in the wood
to pull flowers to flower her hat, me boys
to pull flowers to flower her hat
- So she hoisted up her petticoats a bit above the knee
And so nimbly she'd run o'er the ground
And when she come in the merry green wood
Well she pulled them branches down, me boys
Well she pulled them branches down
- Suddenly she spied a fine young man
He's standing by a tree
He says "How dare you pull them branches down
Without the leave of me, my dear,
Without the leave of me."
- Well she says "This little wood oh it is me very own
Me father gave it to me.
I can pull these branches down
Without the leave of thee, young man,
Oh without the leave of thee."
- And He took her by the milk-white hand
And by the grass-green sleeve
He pulled her down at the foot of a bush
He never once asked her leave, me boys,
No he never once asked her leave
- And when it was done she twist about
To ask her true-love's name
But she nothing heard and she nothing saw
And all the woods grew dim, grew dim,
And all the woods grew dim
- There's four and twenty ladies all in the land
and they're all playing at chess
Excepting it was the Lady Margaret
and she's green as glass, me boys,
oh she's green as glass.
- And there's four and twenty ladies all in the land
was red as any rose
Excepting it was the Lady Margaret
She's pale and wan, me boys,
oh pale and wan she goes.
- Out then spoke a little servant girl,
She lift her hand and smiled
Says "I think my lady has loved too long
And now she goes with child, me dears
Oh and now she goes with child."
- Out then spoke the second serving girl
"Oh ever and alas," Said she
"But I think I know a herb in the merry green wood
It'll twine the babyfrom thee, my dear
It'll twine the baby from thee."
- Lady Margaret she got her silver comb
Made haste to comb her hair
And then she's away to the merry green wood
As fast as she can tear, me boys
oh as fast as she can tear.
- And she hadn't pulled in the merry green wood
A herb but barely one
When by her stood the young Tambling
He says, "Margaret, leave it alone,
oh Margaret, leave it alone."
- "Why do you pull that bitter little herb
The herb that grows so grey
All to destroy that fine young babe
that we got in our play, my dear,
That we got in our play?"
- "Well come tell me now, young Tambling," she says
"If an earthly man you be."
"I'll tell you no lies," says young Tambling
I was christened as good as thee, me dear
I was christened as good as thee."
- "But as I rode a-hunting on a bitter bitter night
It was from horse I fell
And the Queen Elfland she took me
In yonder green hill to dwell, to dwell,
Oh In yonder green hill to dwell."
- "But the night is Hallow-een lady
The Elven Court will ride
And if you would your true love win
By the mill bridge you must hide, me dear
By the mill bridge you must hide."
- "And first will run the black horse and then will run the
And then race by the white
You hold him fast and you fear him not
He's the father of your child, my love
he's the father of your child"
- "They turn me all in your arms lady
Into many a beast sae wild
But you'll hold on fast and fear no ill
It's the father of your child, my love
It's the father of your child."
- So Lady Margeret she gots silver comb
She made haste to comb her hair
And she's away to the old mill-bridge
As fast as she could tear, me boys,
Oh as fast as she could tear
- And about the dead hour of the night
She heard the bridles ring
And oh me boys it chilled her heart
More than any earthly thing, it did
More than any earthly thing.
- And first run the black horse and then run the brown
And then race by the white
Well she hold it fast and feared it not
It's the father of her child
oh it's the father of her child
- The thunder rolled across the sky
And the stars blazed bright as day
And the Queen of Elven gave a thrilling cry,
"Young Tambling's away, away
Oh Tamblings's away."
- And the very first thing they turned him to
To a lion that run so wild
But she held him fast and feared him not
For he's the father of her child, me boys
he's father of her child.
- And the very next thing they turned him to
Into a loathesome snake
He says "Hold me fast and fear me not
for I'm one of God's own make, my love
oh I'm one one of God's own make."
- And again they changed him all in her arms
To a red hot bar of iron
But she held it fast she feared it not
And it did to her no harm, no harm
And It did to her no harm.
- And the very last last they changed him to
Was link any naked man
She's flung her mantle over him,
She crying, "Me love I've won, I've won"
Oh she cried, "Me love I've won."
- And the Queen of Elfan
She's red as any blood
"I should have tore out your eyes Tambling
And put in two eyes of wood, of wood
And put in two eyes of wood."
© 1997-2003 Abigail Acland for all original works unless otherwise noted.
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