Tam Lin Balladry

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Tam Lin: B. H. Bronson

Source: The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads by Bertrand Harris Bronson

cites: Milligan-Fox, JIFSS, I, (1904), p. 47. Sung by Ann Carter, Belfast, 1904; learned from an old woman in Connemara. Recorded by Mrs. Elizabeth Wheeler.

Title: Tam Lin

Site reference number: 13


Shifting from first to third person, this version of the ballad has an unnamed maiden walking in her father's yards when a figure appears and demands to know why she is there. When she questions him he reveals himself to be the only child of Lord Robinson, and that he was stolen away by the faeries. He tells her how he may be taken from the troop the next day, the first of May. She follows the instructions and rescues him while the Queen looks on and comments.

Tam Lin

  1. As I went out one evening down by my father's lawn
    A gentleman came up to me; these words to me did say:
    "What makes you pull those branches? what makes you pull those boughs?
    What makes you walk through these green fields without leave of me?"
  2. "I have leave from my mother and from my father too.
    Why can't I walk through these green fields without the leave of you?
    And now, sir, as you prevent me, pray tell me what's your name?
    That when I see my father I may tell him the same."
  3. "My name is young Lord Robinson, did you ever hear tell of me?
    I was stolen by the Queen of Fairies when I was a young babié.
    Tomorrow will be the first of May, we'll all go out to ride,
    If you come down to Crickmagh, there we all will pass by.
  4. "Let the black steed pass you by, secondly the brown;
    When a milk-white steed appears, pull the rider down.
    Then hold me fast and fear me not,
    I'm Lord Robinson's only child."
  5. Early the next morning to Crickmagh she went,
    And just as she had told her, she saw them as they went.
    She let the black steed pass her by, and secondly the brown,
    But when the milk-white steed appeared, she pulled the rider down.
    "Hold me fast and fear me not," said Lord Robinson's only child.
  6. Out spoke the Queen of the Fairies,
    In angry tones said she,
    "Had I but known this story
    One hour before the day,
    I'd take[n] out your false, false heart,
    And put in one of clay."
    The first that they transformed him to
    Was to a worm so long:
    "Hold me fast and fear me not, I am a man so strong."
  7. The next they transformed him to
    Was to a fiery snake:
    "Hold me fast and fear me not,
    I'm a child of God's own make."
    The last that they transformed him to
    Was to a bird so wild:
    "You have me now; come take me home,"
    Said Lord Robinson's only child.

Version Notes

This was supplied kindly to me by Allen Garvin, owner of the wonderful but sadly now defunct website Faeries.

Musical notation for this ballad can be found at The Music of Tam Lin

Added to site: December 1997