Tam Lin Balladry

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Tam Lin: SCA

Source: Society for Creative Anachronism

cites: none cited


Site reference number: 16


Janet goes to Carterhaugh despite the warnings against it, to pick roses. There she encounters Tam Lin, and they argue. She returns to her family home, where her father observes that she is pregnant, and she refuses to say who her lover is. She returns to the woods to speak with Tam Lin again, and he reveals his human heritage and the threat against his life, as he is a captive of the faeries, who plan to sacrifice him that night. He gives instructions on how she can save him. She does this, and angers the Queen of Faeries in the process

Tam Lin

  1. I forbid you maidens all
    that wear gold in your hair
    To travel to Carter Hall,
    for young Tam Lin is there.
  2. Maids may go by Carter Hall,
    but they leave him a pledge
    Either their mantels of green
    or else their maidenhead.
  3. Janet tied her kerf of green
    a bit above her knee
    And she's gone to Carter Hall
    as fast as go can she.
  4. She doth pull the double rose,
    a rose but only two
    And up then came young Tam Lin,
    says lady pull no more.
  5. And why come you to Carter Hall
    without command from me
    I can go, young Janet said,
    and ask no leave of thee.
  6. Janet tied her kerf of green
    a little bit above her knee
    And she's gone to her father
    as fast as go can she.
  7. Well then spoke her father dear,
    and he spoke meek and mild
    Well alas Janet, he said,
    I think you go with child.
  8. Well if that be so, Janet said,
    myself shall bear the blame
    There's not a knight in all your halls
    shall get the baby's name.
  9. For if my lover were not a knight,
    as he is an earthen brae
    I'll not change my own true love
    for any knight you have.
  10. Janet tied her kerf of green
    a bit above her knee
    And she's gone to Carter Hall
    as fast as go can she.
  11. Oh tell to me Tam Lin she said,
    why came you here to dwell
    The Queen of Fairy's caught me
    when from my horse I fell.
  12. And at the end of seven years
    she pays a tithe to hell
    I so fair and full of flesh
    am feared it is myself.
  13. But tonight is Halloween
    and the fairy is full bride
    Those that would their true love win,
    hard miles crossed they must fly.
  14. First that pass, the horse is black
    and let them past the brown
    then run to the white steed
    and pull the rider down.
  15. For I ride on the white steed,
    the nearest to the town
    For I was an earthly knight,
    they give me that renown.
  16. They will turn me in your arms
    to a knute or a snake
    Hold me tight and fear not,
    I am your baby's father.
  17. And they will turn me in your arms
    into a lion bold
    Hold me tight and fear not
    and you will love your child.
  18. And they will turn me in your arms
    into a naked knight
    Cloak me in your mantel
    and keep me out of sight.
  19. And in the middle of the night
    she heard the bridle ring
    She heeded what he did say
    and young Tam Lin did win.
  20. Then up spoke the fairy queen,
    an angry queen was she
    Who betide her ill far place,
    an ill that may she die.
  21. Oh had I known Tam Lin, she said,
    what this night I did see
    I'd have looked him in the eye
    and turned him to a tree.

Version Notes

Added to site: Sept 1997