Tam Lin Balladry

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Tam Lin: Rick Lee

Source: Rick Lee

album: Natick

Title: Tam Lin

Site reference number: 27


May Margery travels to Carterhaugh to pluck roses at Tam Lin's well. By the fall, her father notices that she seems to be pregnant. She says that the father of the child is no man, but one of the eflan grey, and praises his horse. She then travels to Carterhaugh to pluck herbs to enduce miscarriage, when Tam Lin appears. He pleased for the child and she asks him about his heritage. He tells her that he is a mortal man captured by the queen of fairies, and fears he is soon to be sacrificed to hell. He instructs her how to save him if she is brave enough. She must wait at Miles Cross and drag him from his milk-white horse as the fairy troop passes by. He will transform into a variety of creatures, and she must hold him until he takes the shape of a naked man, when she must cover him with her mantle. She does all of this, and the Queen of fairies cries out that she should have replaced his eyes with ones of wood.

Tam Lin

  1. May Margery sat in her castle tower
    a-sewing her silken seam
    she looked out from her high window
    and she saw the leaves growing green
  2. Out and down to Carterhaugh
    she's walked without repose
    Till she at Tam Lin's enchanted well
    and she's pulled the double rose
  3. In early fall her father dear
    he spoke both meek and mild
    "Alas, May Margery," he said
    I fear that you go with child
  4. If I go with child, Father
    myself I bear the blame
    there is no lord about your hall
    to give the babe his name
  5. If my love were an earthly knight
    as he is an elfin grey
    I would not give my own heart's love
    to none but him away
  6. the steed that my true love rides on
    is lighter than the wind
    with silver is he shod before
    with burning gold behind
  7. When she rode back to Carterhaugh
    she gathered herbs to find
    the four which by their roots run deep
    might end her baby's time
  8. She had not pulled the deadly herb
    an herb but only four
    till up then started young Tam Lin
    crying "Lady, pull no more."
  9. May Margery you pulled the double rose
    among the groves so green
    why now you've come to kill the babe
    that we gat us between?
  10. Tell me, tell me Tam Lin, she cried
    if you be humankind
    Or spirit from a darker place
    than I can hold in mind?
  11. Oh I was born of mortal flesh
    as human as you be
    until from my horse one dayI fell one day
    and the fairy queen caught me
  12. pleasant is the fairy land
    but an eerie tale to tell
    at the end of seven years
    they must pay a tithe to hell
  13. Oh yes pleasant is the fairy land
    stranger still to tell
    I'm so fair and full of flesh
    I fear that the tithe is myself
  14. But tonight is Halloween lady
    and the dawn is hallow's day
    and I have but one chance if you be brave
    and do as I now say
  15. All at the mirk and the midnight hour
    the fairy folk will ride
    they that would their true loves win
    to Mile's cross must abide
  16. oh first let pass the coal black horse
    and then let pass the brown
    but quickly run to the milk-white steed
    and pull the rider down
  17. And they'll turn me to a bear so grim
    and then to a lion bold
    but hold me fast and fear me not
    as you shall love your child
  18. and they'll turn me in your arms
    to a red hot bar of iron
    but hold me fast and fear me not
    and I'll do to you no harm
  19. and then I'll be your own true-love
    I'll be turned to a naked knight
    but wrap me in your green mantle
    and hold me out of sight
  20. gloomy gloomy was the night
    and eerie was the way
    as Margery in her green mantle
    to miles cross found her way
  21. and first she let the black pass by
    then she let the brown
    but quickly ran to the milk white steed
    and pulled the rider down
  22. So well she minded what he did say
    that young Tam Lin she did win
    she wrapped him in her green mantle
    they safely loved within
  23. Till they heard the Fairy Queen cry out
    angry then was she
    "You have taken away the fairest knight
    in all of my company"
  24. And had I known Tam Lin" she cried
    what now this night I should
    I'd have taken away your two grey eyes
    I'd have put in two of wood"


Version Notes

Added to site: October 1999