Tam Lin

No: 39; variant: 39I

  1. ‘O I FORBID ye, maidens a’, That wear gowd on your hair, To come or gae by Carterhaugh, For young Tamlane is there.
  2. ‘There’s nane that gaes by Carterhaugh But maun leave him a wad, Either gowd rings, or green mantles, Or else their maidenheid.
  3. ‘Now gowd rings ye may buy, maidens, Green mantles ye may spin, But, gin ye lose your maidenheid, Ye’ll neer get that agen.’
  4. But up then spak her, fair Janet, The fairest o a’ her kin: ‘I’ll cum and gang to Carterhaugh, And ask nae leave o him.’
  5. Janet has kilted her green kirtle A little abune her knee, And she has braided her yellow hair A little abune her bree.
  6. And when she came to Carterhaugh, She gaed beside the well, And there she fand his steed standing, But away was himsell.
  7. She hadna pu’d a red red rose, A rose but barely three, Till up and starts a wee wee man, At lady Janet’s knee.
  8. Says, Why pu ye the rose, Janet? What gars ye break the tree? Or why come ye to Carterhaugh, Withouten leave o me?
  9. Says, Carterhaugh it is mine ain, My daddie gave it me; I’ll come and gang to Carterhaugh, And ask nae leave o thee.
  10. He’s taen her by the milk-white hand, Among the leaves sae green, And what they did I cannot tell, The green leaves were between.
  11. He’s taen her by the milk-white hand, Among the roses red, And what they did I cannot say, She neer returnd a maid.
  12. When she cam to her father’s ha, She looked pale and wan; They thought she’d dreed some sair sickness, Or been with some leman.
  13. She didna comb her yellow hair Nor make meikle o her head, And ilka thing that lady took Was like to be her deid.
  14. It’s four and twenty ladies fair Were playing at the ba; Janet, the wightest of them anes, Was faintest o them a’.
  15. Four and twenty ladies fair Were playing at the chess; And out there came the fair Janet, As green as any grass.
  16. Out and spak an auld grey-headed knight, Lay oer the castle wa: ‘And ever, alas! for thee, Janet, But we’ll be blamed a’!’
  17. ‘Now haud your tongue, ye auld grey knight, And an ill deid may ye die! Father my bairn on whom I will, I’ll father nane on thee.’
  18. Out then spak her father dear, And he spak meik and mild: ‘And ever, alas! my sweet Janet, I fear ye gae with child.’
  19. ‘And if I be with child, father, Mysell maun bear the blame; There’s neer a knight about your ha Shall hae the bairnie’s name.
  20. ‘And if I be with child, father, ‘Twill prove a wondrous birth, For weel I swear I’m not wi bairn To any man on earth.
  21. ‘If my love were an earthly knight, As he’s an elfin grey, I wadna gie my ain true love For nae lord that ye hae.’
  22. She prinkd hersell and prinnd hersell, By the ae light of the moon, And she’s away to Carterhaugh, To speak wi young Tamlane.
  23. And when she cam to Carterhaugh, She gaed beside the well, And there she saw the steed standing, But away was himsell.
  24. She hadna pu’d double rose, A rose but only twae, When up and started young Tamlane, Says, Lady, thou pu’s nae mae.
  25. Why pu ye the rose, Janet, Within this garden grene, And a’ to kill the bonny babe That we got us between?
  26. ‘The truth ye’ll tell to me, Tamlane, A word ye mauna lie; Gin eer ye was in haly chapel, Or sained in Christentie?’
  27. ‘The truth I’ll tell to thee, Janet, A word I winna lie; A knight me got, and a lady me bore, As well as they did thee.
  28. ‘Randolph, Earl Murray, was my sire, Dunbar, Earl March, is thine; We loved when we were children small, Which yet you well may mind.
  29. ‘When I was a boy just turnd of nine, My uncle sent for me, To hunt and hauk, and ride with him, And keep him companie.
  30. ‘There came a wind out of the north, A sharp wind and a snell, And a deep sleep came over me, And frae my horse I fell.
  31. ‘The Queen of Fairies keppit me In yon green hill to dwell, And I’m a fairy, lyth and limb, Fair ladye, view me well.
  32. ‘Then would I never tire, Janet, In Elfish land to dwell, But aye, at every seven years, They pay the teind to hell; And I am sae fat and fair of flesh, I fear ‘twill be mysell.
  33. ‘This night is Halloween, Janet, The morn is Hallowday, And gin ye dare your true love win, Ye hae nae time to stay.
  34. ‘The night it is good Halloween, When fairy folk will ride, And they that wad their true-love win, At Miles Cross they maun bide.’
  35. ‘But how shall I thee ken, Tamlane? Or how shall I thee knaw, Amang so many unearthly knights, The like I never saw?’
  36. ‘The first company that passes by, Say na, and let them gae; The next company that passes by, Say na, and do right sae; The third company that passes by, Then I’ll be ane o thae.
  37. ‘First let pass the black, Janet, And syne let pass the brown, But grip ye to the milk-white steed, And pu the rider down.
  38. ‘For I ride on the milk-white steed, And aye nearest the town; Because I was a christend knight, They gave me that renown.
  39. ‘My right hand will be gloved, Janet, My left hand will be bare; And these the tokens I gie thee, Nae doubt I will be there.
  40. ‘They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet, An adder and a snake; But had me fast, let me not pass, Gin ye wad be my maik.
  41. ‘They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet, An adder and an ask; They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet, A bale that burns fast.
  42. ‘They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet, A red-hot gad o airn; But haud me fast, let me not pass, For I’ll do you no harm.
  43. ‘First dip me in a stand o milk, And then in a stand o water; But had me fast, let me not pass, I’ll be your bairn’s father.
  44. ‘And next they’ll shape me in your arms A tod but and an eel; But had me fast, nor let me gang, As you do love me weel.
  45. ‘They’ll shape me in your arms, Janet, A dove but and a swan, And last they’ll shape me in your arms A mother-naked man; Cast your green mantle over me, I’ll be myself again.’
  46. Gloomy, gloomy, was the night, And eiry was the way, As fair Janet, in her green mantle, To Miles Cross she did gae.
  47. About the dead hour o the night She heard the bridles ring, And Janet was as glad o that As any earthly thing.
  48. And first gaed by the black black steed, And then gaed by the brown; But fast she gript the milk-white steed, And pu’d the rider down.
  49. She pu’d him frae the milk-white steed, And loot the bridle fa, And up there raise an erlish cry, ‘He’s won amang us a’!’
  50. They shaped him in fair Janet’s arms An esk but and an adder; She held him fast in every shape, To be her bairn’s father.
  51. They shaped him in her arms at last A mother-naked man, She wrapt him in her green mantle, And sae her true love wan.
  52. Up then spake the Queen o Fairies, Out o a bush o broom: ‘She that has borrowd young Tamlane Has gotten a stately groom.’
  53. Up then spake the Queen o Fairies, Out o a bush o rye: ‘She’s taen awa the bonniest knight In a’ my cumpanie.
  54. ‘But had I kennd, Tamlane,’ she says, ‘A lady wad borrowd thee I wad taen out thy twa grey een, Put in twa een o tree.
  55. ‘Had I but kennd, Tamlane,’ she says, ‘Before ye came frae hame, I wad taen out your heart o flesh, Put in a heart o stane.
  56. ‘Had I but had the wit yestreen That I hae coft the day, I’d paid my kane seven times to hell Ere you’d been won away.’