Tam Lin and Fair Janet

Myth of the Day:

Tam Lin

The woods of Carterhaugh are guarded by Tam Lin, a man who demands payment of all maidens who pass through, in the form of a belonging or their virginity. A maiden named Janet travels to Carterhaugh and picks a rose, causing Tam Lin to appear. He questions her presence, to which she relies that Carterhaugh is rightfully hers. She then travels to her fathers house where she exhibits the early signs of pregnancy, much to the concern of the household. She states that her lover is elven, and then returns to Carterhaugh, once again encountering Tam Lin. He reveals he is not elven, but a mortal captured by the queen of Faeries, and that he may be sacrificied to hell as part of the faerie tithe. He then details how she can save him to be her mate, if she will undergo a trial on Halloween night. She must pull him from his horse as the faeries process through the woods, and hold onto him as he is transformed into various beasts, then plunge him into a well when he turns into a brand of fire. When he regains his own naked shape she must cover him with her green mantle and he will be free. She does all of this, much to the anger of the watching Queen of faeries.

The Ballad of Tam Lin:

‘O I forbid you, maidens a’,

That wear gowd on your hair,

To come or gae by Carterhaugh,

For young Tam Lin is there.

For even about that knight’s middle

O’ siller bells are nine;

And nae maid comes to Carterhaugh

And a maid returns again.’

Fair Janet sat in her bonny bower,

Sewing her silken seam,

And wish’d to be in Carterhaugh

Amang the leaves sae green.

She’s lat her seam fa’ to her feet,

The needle to her tae,

And she’s awa’ to Carterhaugh

As fast as she could gae.

And she has kilted her green kirtle

A little abune her knee;

And she has braided her yellow hair

A little abune her bree;

And she has gaen for Carterbaugh

As fast as she can hie.

She hadna pu’d a rose, a rose,

A rose but barely ane,

When up and started young Tam Lin;

Says, ‘ Ladye, let alane.

What gars ye pu’ the rose, Janet ?

What gars ye break the tree ?

What gars ye come to Carterhaugh

Without the leave o’ me?’

Weel may I pu’ the rose,’ she says,

‘And ask no leave at thee;

For Carterhaugh it is my ain,

My daddy gave it me.’

He’s ta’en her by the milk-white hand,

And by the grass-green sleeve,

He’s led her to the fairy ground

At her he askd nae leave.

Janet has kilted her green kirtle

A little abune her knee,

And she has snooded her yellow hair

A little abune her bree,

And she is to her father’s ha’

As fast as she can hie.

But when she came to her father’s ha’,

She look’d sae wan and pale,

They thought the lady had gotten a fright,

Or with sickness she did ail.

Four and twenty ladies fair

Were playing at the ba’,

And out then came fair Janet

Ance the flower amang them a’

Four and twenty ladies fair

Were playing at the chess,

And out then came fair Janet

As green as onie glass.

Out then spak’ an au d grey knight

‘Lay owre the Castle wa’,

And says, ‘ Alas, fair Janet!

For thee we’ll be blamed a’

‘Hauld your tongue, ye auld-faced knight,

Some ill death may ye die!

Father my bairn on whom I will,

I’ll father nanre on thee.

0 if my love were an earthly knight,

As he is an elfin gay,

I wadna gie my ain true-love

For nae laird that ye hae.

‘The steed that my true-love rides on

Is fleeter nor the wind;

Wi` siller he is shod before,

Wi’ buming gold behind’

Out then spak’ her brither dear-

He meant to do her harm:

There grows an herb in Carterbaugh

Will twine you an’ the bairn.’

Janet has kilted her green kirtle

A little abune her knee,

And she has snooded her yellow hair

A little abune her bree,

And she’s awa’ to Carterhaugh

As fast as she can hie.

She hadna pu’d a leaf, a leaf,

A leaf but only twae,

When up and started young Tam Lin,

Says, I Ladye, thou’s pu’ nae mae.

‘How dar’ ye pu’ a leaf he says,

‘ How dar’ ye break the tree,

How dar’ ye scathe my babe,’ he says,

That’s between you and me?’

0 tell me, tell me, Tam,’ she says,

‘ For His sake that died on tree,

If ye were ever in holy chapel

Or sain’d in Christentie?

The truth I’ll tell to thee, Janet,

Ae word I winna lee;

A knight me got, and a lady me bore,

As well as they did thee.

Roxburgh he was my grandfather,

Took me with him to bide;

And ance it fell upon a day,

As hunting I did ride,

‘There came a wind out o’ the north,

A sharp wind an’ a snell,

A dead sleep it came over me

And frae my horse I fell;

And the Queen o’ Fairies she took me

In yon green hill to dwell.

And pleasant is the fairy land

For those that in it dwell,

But ay at end of seven years

They pay a teind to hell;

I am sae fair and fu’ o’ flesh

I’m fear’d ’twill be mysell.

‘But the night is Halloween, Janet,

The morn is Hallowday ;

Then win me, win me, an ye will,

For weel I wat ye may.

‘The night it is gude Hallowe’en,

The fairy folk do ride,

And they that wad their true-love win,

At Miles Cross they maun bide.’

But how should I you ken, Tam Lin,

How should I borrow you,

Amang a pack of uncouth knights

The like I never saw

You’ll do you down to Miles Cross

Between twel’ hours and ane,

And fill your hands o’ the holy water

And cast your compass roun’.

‘The first company that passes by,

Say na, and let them gae;

The neist company that passes by,

Say na, and do right sae;

The third company that passes by,

Then I’ll be ane o’ thae.

0 first let pass the black, ladye,

And syne let pass the brown;

But quickly run to the milk-white steed,

Pu’ ye his rider down.

For some ride on the black, ladye,

And some ride on the brown;

But I ride on a milk-white steed,

A gowd star en my crown.

Because I was an earthly knight
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br />They gie me that renown.

My right hand will be gloved, ladye,

My left hand wiII be bare,

And thae’s the tokens I gie thee:

Nae doubt I will be there.

‘Ye’ll tak’ my horse then by the head

And let the bridle fa’;

The Queen o’ Elfin she’ll cry out

“True Tam Lin he’s awa’!”

They’ll turn me in your arms, ladye,

An aske but and a snake;

But hauld me fast, let me na gae,

To be your warldis make.

‘They’ll turn me in your arms, ladye,

But and a deer so wild ;

But hauld me fast, let me na gae,

The father o’ your child.

They’ll shape me in your arms, ladye,

A hot iron at the fire ;

But hauld me fast, let me na go,

To be your heart’s desire.

‘They’ll shape me last in your arms, Janet,

A mother-naked man;

Cast your green mantle over me,

And sae will I be won.’

Janet has kilted her green kirtle

A little abune the knee;

And she has snooded her yellow hair

A little abune her bree,

And she is on to Miles Cross

As fast as she can hie.

About the dead hour o’ the night

She heard the bridles ring;

And Janet was as glad at that

As any earthly thing.

And first gaed by the black, black steed,

And syne gaed by the brown;

But fast she gript the milk-white steed

And pu’d the rider down.

She’s pu’d him frae the milk-white steed,

An’ loot the bridle fa’

And up there rase an eldritch cry,

‘True Tam Lin he’s awa’!’

They shaped him in her arms twa

An aske but and a snake;

But aye she grips and hau’ds hint fast

To be her warldis make.

They shaped him in her arms twa

But and a deer sae wild;

But aye she grips and hau’ds him fast,

The father o’ her child.

They shaped him in her arms twa

A hot iron at the fire;

But aye she grips and hau’ds him fast

To be her heart’s desire.

They shaped him in her arms at last

A mother-naked man;

She cast her mantle over him,

And sae her love she wan.

Up then spak’ the Queen o’ Fairies,

Out o’ a bush o’ broom,

She that has borrow’d young Tam Lin

Has gotten a stately groom!

Out then spak’ the Queen o’ Fairies,

And an angry woman was she,

She’s ta’en awa’ the bonniest knight

In a’ my companie!

But what I ken this night, Tam Lin,

Gin I had kerit yestreen,

I wad ta’en out thy heart o’ flesh,

And put in a heart o’ stane.

‘And adieu, Tam Lin! But gin I had kent

A ladye wad borrow’d thee,

I wad ta’en out thy twa grey e’en

Put in twa e’en o’ tree.

And had I the wit yestreen, yestreen,

That I have coft this day,

I’d paid my teind seven times to hell

Ere you had been won away!