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 Scottish Songs - Lyrics and Melodies 
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Tam Lin or Tamlane

Robert Burns's version

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

2. There's nane that gaes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a wad,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead.

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

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

5. She had na pu'd a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Says, "Lady, thou's pu nae mae.

6. "Why pu's thou the rose, Janet,
And why breaks thou the wand?
Or why comes thou to Carterhaugh
Withoutten my command?" 7. "Carterhaugh, it is my ain,
My daddie gave it me;
I'll come and gang by Carterhaugh,
And ask nae leave at thee."


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

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

3. Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess,
And out then cam the fair Janet,
As green as onie grass.

4. Out then spak an auld grey knight,
Lay oer the castle wa,
And says, "Alas, fair Janet, for thee
But we'll be blamed a'." 5. "Haud your tongue, ye auld-fac'd knight,
Some ill death may ye die!
Father my bairn on whom I will,
I'll father nane on thee." 6. 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." 7. "If that I gae wi' child, father,
Mysel maun bear the blame;
There's neer a laird about your ha
Shall get the bairn's name.

8. "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.

9. "The steed that my true-love rides on
Is lighter than the wind;
Wi siller he is shod before
Wi burning gowd behind." 10. Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has snooded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she's awa' to Carterhaugh,
As fast as she can hie.

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

12. She had na pu'd a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Says, "Lady, thou pu's nae mae.

13. "Why pu's thou the rose, Janet,
Amang the groves sae green,
And a' to kill the bonie babe
That we gat us between?" 14. "O tell me, tell me, Tam Lin," she says,
"For's sake that died on tree,
If eer ye was in holy chapel,
Or christendom did see?" 15. "Roxbrugh he was my grandfather,
Took me with him to bide,
And ance it fell upon a day
That wae did me betide.

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

17. "And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
Ay at the end of seven years
We pay a tiend to hell;
I am sae fair and fu' o flesh
I'm feared it be mysel.

18. "But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday;
Then win me, win me, an ye will,
For weel I wat ye may.

19. "Just at the mirk and midnight hour
The fairy folk will ride,
And they that wad their true love win,
At Miles Cross they maun bide."

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

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

22. "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.

23. "My right hand will be gloyd, lady,
My left hand will be bare,
Cockt up shall my bonnet be,
And kaimd down shall my hair;
And thae's the takens I gie thee,
Nae doubt I will be there.

24. "They'll turn me in your arms, lady,
Into an esk and adder;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I am your bairn's father.

25. "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.

26. "Again they'll turn me in your arms
To a red het gaud of airn;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I'll do to you nae harm.

27. "And last they'll turn me in your arms
Into the burning gleed;
Then throw me into well water,
O throw me in wi speed.

28. "And then I'll be your ain true-love,
I'll turn a naked knight;
Then cover me wi your green mantle,
And cover me out o sight."

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

30. About the middle o' the night
She heard the bridles ring;
This lady was as glad at that
As any earthly thing.

31. 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, 32. Sae weel she minded whae he did say,
And young Tam Lin did win;
Syne coverd him wi her green mantle,
As blythe's a bird in spring.

33. Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
Out of a bush o broom:
"Them that has gotten young Tam Lin
Has gotten a stately groom." 34. 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.

35. "But had I kend, Tam Lin," she says,
"What now this night I see,
I wad hae taen out thy twa grey e'en,
And put in twa een o tree."


Burns's version, in Johnson's Museum (1792). Scott's version is made up of this copy, Riddell's, Herd's, and oral recitations, and contains feeble literary interpolations, not, of course, by Sir Walter. The Complaint of Scotland (1549) mentions the "Tale of the Young Tamlene" as then popular. It is needless here to enter into the subject of Fairyland, and captures of mortals by Fairies: the Editor has said his say in his edition of Kirk's Secret Commonwealth.

The Nereids, in Modern Greece, practise fairy cantrips, and the same beliefs exist in Samoa and New Caledonia.

The metamorphoses are found in the Odyssey, Book iv., in the winning of Thetis, the Nereid, or Fairy Bride, by Peleus, in a modern Cretan fairy tale, and so on. There is a similar incident in Penda Baloa, a Senegambian ballad (Contes Populaires De La Senegambie, Berenger Ferand, Paris, 1885). The dipping of Tamlane has precedents in Old Deccan Days, in a Hottentot tale by Bleek, and in Les Deux Freres, the Egyptian story, translated by Maspero (the Editor has already given these parallels in a note to Border Ballads, by Graham R. Thomson). Mr. Child also cites Mannhardt, "Wald und Feldkulte," ii. 64-70. Carterhaugh, the scene of the ballad, is at the junction of Ettrick and Yarrow, between Bowhill and Philiphaugh.

 Scottish Songs - Lyrics and Melodies 
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