Tam Lin Title
The Ballad - a Young Man, a Maiden, and the Fairy Queen

O I forbid you, maidens a’
That wear gowd1 on your hair
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.

“Roxburgh he was my grandfather,
Took me with him to bide,
And ance it fell upon a day
That wae
18 did me betide.

There’s nane that gaes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a wad2,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead
3.

“And ance it fell upon a day,
A cauld
19 day and a snell,20
When we were frae the hunting come
That frae my horse I fell;
T
he Queen o Fairies she caught me,
In yon green hill to dwell.

Janet has kilted4 her green kirtle5
A little aboon6 her knee,
And she has broded7 her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree
8,
And she’s awa to Carterhaugh,
As fast as she can hie.
9

“And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
Ay at the end of seven years
We pay a tiend
21
to hell;
I am sae fair and fu o flesh,
I’m feard it be myself.

When she came to Carterhaugh,
T
am Lin was at the well,
And there she fand his steed standing,
But away was himsel.

“But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday;
T
hen win me, win me, an ye will,
For weel I wat ye may.

She had na pu’d a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
T
ill up then started young Tam Lin,
Says, “Lady, thou’s pu nae mae
.10

“Just at the mirk22 and midnight hour
The fairy folk will ride,
And they that wad their true-love win,
At Miles Cross they maun bide.”

“Why pu’s thou the rose, Janet,
And why breaks though the wand?11
Or why comes thou to Carterhaugh
Withoutten my command?"

“But how shall I thee ken, Tam Lin,
Or how my true-love know,
Amang sae mony unco
23 knights
The like I never saw?”

“Carterhaugh, it is my ain,
My daddie gave it me;
I’ll come and gang by Carterhaugh,
And ask nae leave at thee.”

“O first let pass the black, lady,
And syne
24 let pass the brown,
But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
Pu ye his rider down.

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has broded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she is to her father’s ha
,12
As fast as she can hie.

“For I’ll ride on the milk-white steed,
And ay nearest the town;
Because I was an earthly knight
They gie me that renown.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ba,13
And out then cam the fair Janet,
Ance the flower amang them a’.

“My right hand will be gloved, lady,
My left hand will be bare,
Cockt up shall my bonnet be,
And kaimd
25 down shall my hair,
And thae’s the tokens I gie thee,
Nae doubt I will be there.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ba,
And out then cam the fair Janet,
As green as onie glass.14

“They’ll turn me in your arms, lady,
Into an esk
26 and adder;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I am your bairnie’s father.

Out then spak an auld grey knight,
Lay oer the castle wa,
And says, “Alas, fair Janet, for thee
But we’ll be blam-ed a’."

“They’ll turn me to a bear sae grim,
And then a lion bold;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
As ye shall love your child.

“Haud your tongue, ye auld fac’d knight,
Some ill death may ye dee!
Father my bairn on whom I will,
I’ll father nane on thee.”

“Again they’ll turn me in your arms
T
o a red het gaud of airn27;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I’ll do to you nae harm.

Out then spak her father dear,
And he spak meek and mild;
“And ever alas, sweet Janet”, he says,
“I think thou gaes wi child.”

“And last they’ll turn me in your arms
Into the burning gleed
28;
T
hen throw me into well water,
O throw me in wi speed.

“If that I gae wi child, father,
Mysel maun15 bear the blame;
T
here’s neer a laird about your ha
Shall get the bairn’s name.

“An then I’ll be your ain true-love,
I’ll turn a naked knight;
T
hen cover me wi your green mantle,
And hide me out o sight.”

“If my love were an earthly knight,
As he’s an elfin grey,
I wad na gie my ain true-love
For nae lord that ye hae.

Sae gloomy, gloomy was the night,
And eerie was the way,
As fair Jenny in her green mantle
To Miles Cross she did gae.

“The steed that my true-love rides on
Is lighter than the wind;
Wi siller
16 he is shod before,
Wi burning gowd behind.”

About the middle o the night
She heard the bridles sing;
T
his lady was as glad at that
As any earthly thing.

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has broded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she’s awa to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can hie.

First she let the black pass by,
And syne she let the brown;
But quickly she ran to the milk-white steed,
And pu’d the rider down.

When she cam to Carterhaugh,
T
am Lin was at the well,
And there she fand his steed standing,
But away was himsel.

Sae weel29 she minded whae he did say,
And young Tam Lin did win;
Syne covered him wi her green mantle,
As blythe’s a bird in spring.

She had na pu’d a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
T
ill up then started young Tam Lin,
Says Lady, thou pu’s nae mae.

Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
Out of a bush o broom
30:
“Them that has gotten young Tam Lin
Has gotten a stately groom.”

“Why pu’s thou the rose, Janet,
Amang the groves sae green,
And a’ to kill the bonnie babe
That we gat us between?”

Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
And an angry woman was she:
“Shame betide her ill-far’d face,
And an ill death may she die,
For she’s taen awa the bonniest knight
In a’ my companie.

“Oh tell me, tell me, Tam Lin”, she says,
“For’s sake that died on tree,
17
If eer ye was in holy chapel,
Or Christendom did see?”

“But had I kend31, Tam Lin”, she says,
“What now this night I see,
I wad hae taen out thy twa grey een
32,
And put twa een o tree33.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1   gowd : gold

    12   ha : hall

23   unco : unfamiliar

  2   wad : something of value

    13   ba : ball

24   syne : then

  3   maidenhead : virginity

    14   green as onie glass : very ill-looking

25   kaimed : combed

  4   kilted : tucked

    15   maun : must 

26   esk : newt

  5   kirtle : skirt

    16   siller : silver

27   het gaud of airn : hot rod of iron

  6   aboon : above

    17   sake that died on tree : Christ's sake

28   gleed : wand

  7   broded : braided

    18   wae : woe

29   sae weel : so well

  8   bree : brow

    19   cauld : cold

30   broom : a yellow-flowering shrub

  9   hie : hurry

    20   snell : windy

31   kend : known

10   nae mae : no more

    21   tiend : tithe; tenth

32   een : eyes
11   wand : branch      22   mirk : dark 33   tree : wood

  

Tam Lin - Introduction               Find Carterhaugh               Tam Lin - A Recording

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