Tam Lin Balladry

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Tam Lin: Geordie McIntyre

Source: Geordie McIntyre

album: Ballad Tree

Title: Tam Lin

Site reference number: 37


Maids are warned against going to Kertonha for fear of Tam Lin. Janet, who had been sewing, looks out at the woods and heads out to the forest. She plucks a nut from the forest, at which point Tam Lin appears and scolds her. They argue, and he takes her by the hand and asks no leave of her. After, she looks for him but cannot find him. She is lost in a timeless place for seven days, and when she returns home, her father observes that she is pregnant. She returns to Kertonha and plucks another nut. When Tam Lin appears, he asks if she will keep their child. When she asks for his parentage, he informs her that he was a captured by the fairies. As that night is Halloween, she can rescue him back if she'll travel to Miles Cross and wait for the troop to pass by, taking him from his horse. She does this, and holds onto him as he transforms into a variety of creatures, ending when he becomes a man and she throws her mantle over him. The Elfin Queen, looking on, wishes she'd replaced his eyes with wood and his heart with stone.

Tam Lin

  1. Tak' warnin' a ye ladies
    That wer gowd in your hair
    N'er gae doon tae Kertonha
    For Tam Lin is there
  2. Janet sat in her high chaumer
    She was sewin' her silken seam
    She lookit East, she lookit West
    Till she she was the woods grow green
  3. Janet has kilted her green mantle
    a litle abune her knee
    and she's gane down tae Kertonha
    as fast as she could flee
  4. She hadna pulled a nut a nut
    Nor scarcely bent a tree
    When up started Tam Lin
    Saying Lady pu' nae mair
  5. Why pu' ye the nut, the nut
    And why bend ye the tree
    And why cam ye by Kertonha
    Without the leave o' me
  6. Oh I will pu' the nut, the nut
    An' I will bend the tree
    An I'll cam in by Kertonha
    I need no leave o' ye
  7. But he's tean her by the milk white hand
    An by the grass-green sleeve
    He's lain her doon on a mossy bank
    An' he didnae ask her leave
  8. She turned roon an' roon aboot
    Tae spier her lover's name
    But naething she heard, an naething she saw
    Till a' the woods grew dim
  9. Seven days she tarried there
    Saw neither sun nor moon
    Till by a wee sma' glimmerin' licht
    She cam through the woods her lane
  10. There were four and twenty ladies
    Playing at the chess
    Janet, she walked amongst them a'
    as green as ony glass
  11. The up spak her auld faither
    He spak meek and mild
    Janet Janet what's ailing ye
    I fear that ye gang wi' child
  12. If I gang wi' child faither
    It's mysel' I hae tae blame
    There's no a man in a' your ha'
    Will bear this bairnies name
  13. And Janet has kilted her green mantle
    a little abune her knee
    She's gaed back tae Kertonha
    As fast as she could flee
  14. She hadna pu'd a nut a nut
    Nor scarcely bent the tree
    When oot started Tam Lin
    Saying Lady pu' nae mair!
  15. Why pu' ye the nut the nut
    Among the leaves sae green
    Is it tae kill the bonnie bairn
    That we hae us between
  16. Tell me noo Tam Lin
    For sake who died on tree
    Were ye ever in a holy chapel
    Or Christendom did see
  17. Aye it fell upon a day
    A cauld day and a snell
    When I was tae the huntin' gaen
    An' fae my horse I fell
    An' he queen o' Elfin land's taen me
    In yonder green hill tae dwell
  18. But this nicht it is the Halloween
    When the fairy folk maun ride
    An' them that would their true love win
    At Miles Cross they must bide
  19. FIrst will come the black horses
    An then the berry brown
    But when you see a bony white horse
    Pu' ye the rider doon
  20. Then they'll turn me in your airms
    Tae a red hot gaud o airn
    Haud me fast, fear me not
    I'm the faither of your bairn
  21. They'll turn me in your airms
    Tae an esk an adder
    But haud me fast an' fear me not
    For I'm your bair's father
  22. Then they'll turn me in your airms
    Tae a winter wolf sae wild
    Haud me fast an'fear me not
    I'm the faither o' your child
  23. When they turn me in your airms
    Tae a dove an' then a swan
    Throw your mantle o'er me
    An' I'll be a perfect man
  24. Mikr and' dreary was the nicht
    The nicht o Halloween
    When Janet wi' her green mantle
    Tae Miles Cross she has gaen
  25. In the middle o' the nicht
    She heard the bridles ring
    An' Janet was as glad o' that
    As ony mortal thing
  26. First cam' by the black horse
    And then the berry brown
    When she saw that bonny horse
    She pu'd the rider down
  27. Well she minded what she was tellt
    And young Tam Lin did win
    She threw her mantle o'er him
    As blithe as the birds in Spring
  28. Then oot spak the Elfin Queen
    Frae a bush o' broom
    Them that's taen young Tam Lin
    Has gotten a stately groom
  29. Had I kenned Tam Lin she cried
    A lady would hae borrowed ye
    I would have taen oot your twa grey een
    Put in the een o a tree
  30. And had I kenned Tam Lin she cried
    This nicht when far frae hame
    I would hae taen oot your heart o flesh
    Put in a heart o' stane

Version Notes

Added to site: October 2006