Tam Lin

Child Ballad #39


From The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads by Bertrand Harris Bronson. (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey: 1959)

This fine ballad has made infrequent appearances since Robert Burns sent his copy to Johnson's Museum, and, so far as the evidence exists to show, each time--as is to be expected when a song occurs so seldom--to a different tune. Of the surviving tunes two appear to be Scottish, one Northern English (via the United States), and one Irish. Two are plagal majors; and two hbelong to minor modes, ∆, D, but with inflections, and the Irish variant ending, possibly, on V.

The evidence of a singing and dancing tradition, of whatever sort, connected with Tam Lin, or Tamlene, or Thomalyn, or Thom of Lyn, or Thomlin, is frequent enough from the nature of what was sung and danced about him. Some of it, however, must have belonged to the nursery branch of "Tommy a Lynn" or "Brian o' Lynn," which has also had a very wide vogue and often found its way into print. There seems to be no connection beyond the name. A version of the latter song may be found in Baring-Gould, Songs of the West, ed. Sharp, 1905, No. 41; and abundant references in the notes, App'x p. 13, to other occurrences. Cf. also I. and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, 1951, pp. 413-14. In a Scottish medley of the early seventeenth century, printed by Forbes in 1666, but removed from the next edition of his work, certain musical notes are set down to the following words:

	The pypers drone was out of tune
	sing young Thomlin, be merry,
	be merry, and twise so merry,
	with the light of the Moon,
	hey, hey down, down a down;

but the corresponding notes do not shape a tune, and it is not even certain that so much of the text is consecutive. Other than this, we have nothing in music until the end of the eighteenth century, when Burns, as said above, collected our best text of the ballad. Blaikie's tune, coming soon after, depends for connection on its title. It has not been printed before, so far as I know.


LIST OF VARIANTS

1. "Lord Robinson's Only Child." C. Milligan-Fox, JIFSS, I (1904), p. 47.
2. "Tam Lin." James Johnson, The Scots Musical Museum, V [1796], No. 411, p. 423.
3. "Janet of Carterhaugh." Blaikie MS., National Library of Scotland MS. 1578, No. 76, p. 24.
4. "Tam Lane." Dorothy Scarborough, A Song Catcher in Southern Mountains, 1937, pp. 422 and 251-54.


1.
[Lord Robinson's Only Child]

Milligan-Fox, JIFSS, I, (1904), p. 47. Sung by Ann Carter, Belfast, 1904; learned from an old woman in Connemara. Recorded by Mrs. Elizabeth Wheeler.

[Lord Robinson's Child Music (gif)]

      As I went out one evening down by my father's lawn
      A gentleman came up to me; these words to me did say:
      "What makes you pull those branches?  what makes you pull those boughs?
      What makes you walk through these green fields without leave of me?"
      
      "I have leave from my mother and from my father too.
      Why can't I walk through these green fields without the leave of you?
      And now, sir, as you prevent me, pray tell me what's your name?
      That when I see my father I may tell him the same."
      
      "My name is young Lord Robinson, did you ever hear tell of me?
      I was stolen by the Queen of Fairies when I was a young babiť.
      Tomorrow will be the first of May, we'll all go out to ride;
      If you come down to Crickmagh, there we all will pass by.
      
      "Let the black steed pass you by, secondly the brown;
      When a milk-white steed appears, pull the rider down.
      Then hold me fast and fear me not,
      I'm Lord Robinson's only child."
      
      Early the next morning to Crickmagh she went,
      And just as she had told her, she saw them as they went.
      She let the black steed pass her by, and secondly the brown,
      But when the milk-white steed appeared, she pulled the rider down.
      "Hold me fast and fear me not," said Lord Robinson's only child.
      
      Out spoke the Queen of the Fairies,
      In angry tones said she,
      "Had I but known this story
      One hour beore the day,
      I'd take[n] out your false, false heart,
      And put in one of clay."
      The first that they transformed him to
      Was to a worm so long:
      "Hold me fast and fear me not, I am a man so strong."
      
      The next they transformed him to
      Was to a fiery snake:
      "Hold me fast and fear me not,
      I'm a child of God's own make."
      The last that they transformed him to
      Was to a bird so wild:
      "You have me now; come take me home,"
      Said Lord Robinson's only child.

2.
[Tam Lin]

Johnson, V, [1796], No. 411, p. 423.

a ∆ (but inflected VII)

[Tam Lin Music (gif)]

The same, with dotted rhythm in the first two bars, and to other words, "O raging fortune's withering blast" (Burns's words), but with an air named "Tam Lin," appears in R. A. Smith, The Scottish Minstrel, (c. 1824), I, p. 2.

The time-values of the notes have been doubled in the present copy. The division of the stanzas has been readjusted in accordance with the rhyme. This is Child's A.

     1          O I forbid you, maidens a'
                  That wear gown o[n] your hair
                To come or gae by Caterhaugh,
                  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 broded her yellow hair
                  A little aboon her bree,
                And she awa to Carterhaugh
                  As fast as she can hie[.]

     4          When she came to Carterhaugh
                  Tom-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 though 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.

     8          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.

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

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

    11          Out then spak an auld grey knight,
                  Lay o'er the castle wa,
                And says, Alas, fair Janet, for thee
                  But we'll be blamed a'.

    12          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.

    13          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.

    14          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.

    15          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.

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

    17          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[.]

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

    19          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.

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

    21          Oh tell me, tell me, Tam-Lin, she says,
                  For's sake that died on tree,
                If e'er ye was in holy chapel,
                  Or Christendom did see.

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

    23          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[.]

    24          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 fear'd it be myself.

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

    26          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.

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

    28          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.

    29          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.

    30          My right hand will be glovd, 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.

    31          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.

    32          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.

    33          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.

    34          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.

    35          An 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.'

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

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

    38          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.

    39          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.

    40          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.

    41          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[.]

    42          But had I kend, Tam Lin, she says,
                  'What now this night I see[.]
                I wad hae taen out thy twa grey een,
                  And put twa een o tree.

3.
[Janet of Carterhaugh]

Blaikie MS., NL Scotland MS. 1578, No. 76, p. 24.

p I/M

[Tam Lin Music (gif)]


3.
"Tam Lane"

Scarborough, 1937, p. 422; text, pp. 251-54. Sung my Margaret Widdemer, c. 1932; the first stanza learned from Elinor Wylie, who learned it from her nurse, a woman "from the northern marshes." The text as a whole appears to be refashioned, perhaps in good part on Child's D.

p I

[Tam Lin Music (gif)]

This tune seems nearly allied to Motherwell's "Lady JEan" (52), though in a different modal area.

     1  Mary Margery sat in her castle tower
          Sewing her silken seam
        She looked from out the high window
          And she saw the leaves growing green,
                  My love,
          And she saw the leaves growing green.
        
     2  She's let the seam drop to her foot,
          The needle to her toe,
        And she's away to Cartershay
          As fast as she can go,
                  My love,
          As fast as she can go.
        
     3  She hadna pulled a red, red rose,
          A rose but barely three,
        When up there started a wee, wee man,
          Says, Let the roses be,
                  My love,
          Says, Let the roses be.
        
     4  "Oh, I will pull the bush," she says,
          "And I will pull the tree,
        And I will be at Cartershay
          And ask no leave of thee,
                  My love,
          And ask no leave of thee."
        
     5  He took her by the milk-white hand,
          Among the leaves so green,
        And what they did I daena say,
          The green leaves were atween,
                  My love,
          The green leaves were atween.
        
     6  "Now tell to me the truth, Tam Lane,
          A truth we will na lee,
        If ever you were a human man
          And sained in Christendy,
                  My love,
          And sained in Christendy?"
        
     7  "Oh, I will tell the truth, Margaret,
          A truth I willna lee.
        It's truth I have been in holy chapel
          And sained as well as thee,
                  My love,
          And sained as well as thee;
        
     8  But once it fell upon a day
          As hunting I did ride,
        As I rode east and I rode west,
          Strange chance did me betide,
                  My love,
          Strange chance did me betide.
        
     9  There blew a drowsy, drowsy wind,
          Dead sleep upon me fell,
        The Queen o'Fairies she was there
          And she took me to herself,
                  My love,
          And she took me to herself."
        
    10  And never I would tire, Margaret,
          In fairyland to dwell,
        But aye at every seven years,
          They pay the tiend to hell,
                  My love,
          And I fear 'twill be myself.
        
    11  This night is Hallowe'en, Margaret,
          When fairy folk will ride
        And if you would your true love win,
          At Miles Cross you must bide,
                  My love,
          At Miles Cross you must bide."
        
    12  "But how shall I thee ken, Tam Lane,
          And how shall I thee know,
        Among so many unearthly knights
          The like I never saw,
                  My love,
          The like I never saw?"
        
    13  "Oh, first let by the black black steed,
          And then let by the brown,
        But grip you to the milk-white steed
          And pull the rider down,
                  My love,
          And pull the rider down.
        
    14  For I'll be on the milk-white steed,
          With a gold star in my crown,
        Because I was a christened knight
          They gave me that renown,
                   My love,
          They gave me that renown.["]
        
    15  Gloomy, gloomy was the night
          And eerie was the way
        When Margaret in her green mantel
          To Miles Cross she did gae,
                   My love,
          To Miles Cross she did gae.
        
    16  And first went by the black, black steed,
          And then went by the brown,
        And syne she gripped the milk-white steed
          And pulled the rider down,
                   My love,
          And pulled the rider down.
        
    17  Up then spoke the Queen o' Fairies,
          Out of a bush of broom,
        She that has gotten young Tam Lane
          Has gotten a stately groom,
                   My love,
          Has gotten a stately groom.
        
    18  Up then spoke the Queen o' Fairies,
          Out of a bush of rye,
        She's taken away the bonniest knight
          In all my company,
                   My love,
          In all my company.
        
    19  If I had but kent yestreen, Tam Lane,
          A lady would borrow thee,
        I'd taken out thy two grey een
          Put in two of tree,
                   My love,
          Put in two of tree.
        
    20  If I had kenned, Tam Lane, she says,
          Before we came from home,
        I'd taken out your heart of flesh
          And put in a heart of stone,
                   My love,
          And put in a heart of stone.
        
    21  If I had but half the wit yestreen
          That I have bought today
        Id' paid my tiend seven times to hell
          Ere ye'd been won away,
                   My love,
          Ere ye'd been won away.
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