Tam Lin Balladry

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Tam Lin: MacMath

Source: William MacMath

cites: the Mansfield Manuscript

Title: Tam Lin

Site reference number: 33


Thos identifies himself as a Christian of noble birth and captive of the faeries. While the fairy land is good, one tenth of the troop is sacrificed every seven years. He instructs the listener how he may be saved; she must pull from his horse as the troop passes by and hold him while he transforms. The female follows his instructions, rescuing him. The Queen of fairies laments the loss of her lover, curses his rescuer, and curses him.

Tam Lin

  1. O yes I am a Christian knight, & am by woman born
    My father is a high King my Mother a Queen sae Hie
    And I mysell their only son & sae weils the[y] liked me
    My uncle took me out to Hunt a Hawke upon a tree
  2. A drowsieness did on me come & frae my horse I fell
    The Queen of fairys she came by sd Thos will ye wth us Dwell
    The fairy Lands a pleasant Land & pleasant for to Dwell
    Buy aye at every 7 years end the 10th part goes down to Hell
  3. The night it is Hallow E'en the morn it is Hallow tide
    And they that wad their true love won at Bells port they maun bide
    O some Ride on a Black Lady, & some ride on a Bay
    But I ride on a milk white steed & am aye nearest the way
  4. O first ye maun let the Black gae by & syne ye maun let the Brown
    But when ye see the milk white steed come & pou' yr true love down
    I first I'll turn into an ask & then into an Ether
    But clasp me close into yr Breast for I am yr Babys father
  5. O first she let the Black gae by & then she let the Broun
    But when she saw the milk white steed she pu'd her true love down
    O first he turned into an Esk & then into an Ether
    But she clapt him close into her Breast for he was her Babys father
  6. She row's her mantle him about to keep him frae the sun
    And up then spake the Queen of fairys out o' a bush of whins
    O wae worth ye ill woman & an ill dead may ye die
    For ye had plenty of lovers at hame & I had nane but he
  7. But had I wisten yesternight before I came frae hame
    I wad have tore out his bonny black ee'n & put in twa o' bane
    O had I wisten yesterday night afore I came away
    I wad have tore out his false fair heart & put in ane o Clay

Version Notes

From the Mansfield Manuscript, edited by Frank Millar in 1935, previously owned by William MacMath who dated it to the 18th century and reported it as "An unspoiled fragment".

Added to site: January 2002