Tam Lin Balladry

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Tam Lin: Alastair McDonald

Source: Alastair McDonald

album: Heroes & Legends of Scotland

Title: Tam Lin

Site reference number: 38


Maidens are warned against entering Cauterhaigh woods for fear of Tam Lin. Janet disregards the warning and goes to the woods to meet her lover, kissing him in greeting. When she discusses marriage with him, he informs her that he cannot marry her, for he is a captive of the faeries and fears he will be sacrificed. He informs her of how she can rescue him, and that he will marry her if she does. Following his instructions, she waits for the faerie troop to pass and then pulls Tam Lin from his white steed. She hold on to him through transformations, winning him away. The Elfin Queen speaks out, wishing she'd replaced his heart with a stone rather than lose him.

Tam Lin

  1. Oh heed my warning, maidens all
    that wear gold in yer hair,
    keep well away frae Cauterhaugh,
    for young Tam Lin is there.
  2. But Janet's kilted her green gown
    a little above the knee,
    and she's away to Cauterhaugh,
    the young Tam Lin tae see.
  3. She met him by the grassy grove,
    she's kissed him tenderly.
    He's laid her low among the flow'rs,
    no more a maid is she.
  4. Now ere my bairn is born Tam Lin,
    ye'll surely marry me.
    Now, Janet dear, though thee I love,
    this thing it canna be my love.
    This thing, it canna be.
  5. For onct when I'd a huntin' gone,
    twas fray my horse I fell.
    The Queen o' Faeries she caught me,
    in yon green hill ta dwell.
  6. And at the end of seven years,
    she pays a tithe tae Hell,
    and should she ken, I've lain w' ye,
    I'm feared to dee my sel' my love,
    I'm feared ta dee ma sel'.
  7. Then Janet pulled the double rose
    and swore the bairn must die.
    Now Janet dear there's one way yet,
    ta save the bairn and I.
  8. Just at the murk and the midnight hour,
    the faery folk will ride.
    Then, pull me frae the milk white steed,
    and ye shall be my bride my love.
    And ye shall be my bride.
  9. Oh gloomy gloomy was the night,
    and eerie was the way
    when Janet hid among the trees,
    the faery fold tae spy.
  10. Twas first she saw the black, black steed,
    and then she saw the brown.
    But Tam raid on the milk white steed
    and she pulled him tae the ground.
  11. The faeires changed him in her arms,
    a burning coal of fire,
    but Janet held him tae her breast,
    to be her heart's desire.
  12. The faeries changed him in her arms,
    a wolf and then a snake,
    but Janet held him tae her breast,
    all for her true love's sake.
  13. The faeries changed him in her arms,
    a peregrine and wild,
    but still she held him tae her breast,
    the faether o' her child.
  14. They changed him in her arms at last,
    a wild and naked man,
    but still she held him tae her breast,
    and so she won Tam Lin, Tam Lin.
    And so she won Tam Lin.
  15. Was up then spake the Elfin queen,
    an angry queen was she.
    For Janet stole the bonniest knight
    in all her company.
  16. Had I but known Tam Lin she said,
    before I let my home,
    I would have changed yer heart of flesh,
    for one of hardest stone Tam Lin.
    For one of Hardest stone.

Version Notes

Sent to me by Amanda, who was kind enough to provide a good bit of information as well.

Added to site: October 2006