Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
Tam Lin
Anonymous
 
O I FORBID 1 you, maidens a’,
  That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
  For young Tam Lin is there.
 
There’s nane that gaes by Carterhaugh 2        5
  But they leave him a wad,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
  Or else their maidenhead.
 
Janet has kilted her green kirtle
  A little aboon her knee,        10
And she has broded her yellow hair
  A little aboon her bree,
And she’s awa’ to Carterhaugh,
  As fast as she can hie.
 
When she came to Carterhaugh        15
  Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she fand his steed standing,
  But away was himsel.
 
She had na pu’d a double rose,
  A rose but only twa,        20
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
  Says, ‘Lady, thou’s pu’ nae mae!
 
‘Why pu’s thou the rose, Janet,
  And why breaks thou the wand?
Or why comes thou to Carterhaugh        25
  Withoutten my command?’
 
‘Carterhaugh, it is my ain,
  My daddie gave it me;
I’ll come and gang by Carterhaugh,
  And ask nae leave at thee.’        30
 
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’,        35
  As fast as she can hie.
 
Four and twenty ladies fair
  Were playing at the ba,
And out then cam the fair Janet,
  Ance the flower amang them a’.        40
 
Four and twenty ladies fair
  Were playing at the chess,
And out then cam the fair Janet,
  As green as onie glass.
 
Out then spak an auld grey knight,        45
  Lay oer the castle wa’,
And says, ‘Alas, fair Janet, for thee
  But we’ll be blamed a’.’
 
‘Haud your tongue, ye auld fac’d knight,
  Some ill death may ye die!        50
Father my bairn on whom I will,
  I’ll father nane on thee.’
 
Out then spak her father dear,
  And he spak meek and mild;
‘And ever alas, sweet Janet,’ he says,        55
  ‘I think thou gaes wi’ child.’
 
‘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.        60
 
‘If my love were an earthly knight,
  As he’s an elfin grey,
I wae na gie my ain true-love
  For nae lord that ye hae.
 
‘The steed that my true-love rides on        65
  Is lighter than the wind;
Wi’ siller he is shod before,
  Wi’ burning gowd behind.’
 
Janet has kilted her green kirtle
  A little aboon her knee,        70
And she has snooded her yellow hair
  A little aboon her bree,
And she’s awa’ to Carterhaugh,
  As fast as she can hie.
 
When she cam to Carterhaugh,        75
  Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she fand his steed standing,
  But away was himsel.
 
She had na pu’d a double rose,
  A rose but only twa,        80
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
  Says, ‘Lady, thou pu’s nae mae.
 
‘Why pu’s thou the rose, Janet,
  Amang the groves sae green,
And a’ to kill the bonie babe        85
  That we gat us between?’
 
‘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?’        90
 
‘Roxbrugh he was my grandfather,
  Took me with him to bide,
And ance it fell upon a day
  That wae did me betide.
 
‘And ance it fell upon a day,        95
  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.        100
 
‘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,        105
  I’m fear’d it be mysel.
 
‘But the night is Halloween, lady,
  The morn is Hallowday;
Then win me, win me, an ye will,
  For weel I wat ye may.        110
 
‘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.’
 
‘But how shall I thee ken, Tam Lin,        115
  Or how my true-love know,
Amang sae mony unco knights
  The like I never saw?’
 
‘O first let pass the black, lady,
  And syne let pass the brown,        120
But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
  Pu’ ye his rider down.
 
‘For I’ll ride on the milk-white steed,
  And ay nearest the town;
Because I was an earthly knight        125
  They gie me that renown.
 
‘My right hand will be glov’d, lady,
  My left hand will be bare,
Cockt up shall my bonnet be,
  And kaim’d down shall my hair,        130
And thae’s the takens I gie thee,
  Nae doubt I will be there.
 
‘They’ll turn me in your arms, lady,
  Into an esk and adder;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,        135
  I am your bairn’s father.
 
‘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.        140
 
‘Again they’ll turn me in your arms
  To a red hot gaud of airn;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
  I’ll do to you nae harm.
 
‘And last they’ll turn me in your arms        145
  Into the burning gleed;
Then throw me into well water,
  O throw me in wi’ speed.
 
‘And then I’ll be your ain true-love,
  I’ll turn a naked knight;        150
Then cover me wi’ your green mantle,
  And cover me out o’ sight.’
 
Gloomy, gloomy was the night,
  And eerie was the way,
As fair Jenny in her green mantle        155
  To Miles Cross she did gae.
 
About the middle o’ the night
  She heard the bridles ring;
This lady was as glad at that
  As any earthly thing.        160
 
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.
 
Sae weel she minded what he did say,        165
  And young Tam Lin did win;
Syne cover’d him wi’ her green mantle,
  As blythe’s a bird in spring.
 
Out then spak the Queen o’ Fairies,
  Out of a bush o’ broom:        170
‘Them that has gotten young Tam Lin
  Has gotten a stately groom.’
 
Out then spak the Queen o’ Fairies,
  And an angry woman was she:
‘Shame betide her ill-far’d face,        175
  And an ill death may she die,
For she’s taen awa’ the bonniest knight
  In a’ my companie.
 
‘But had I ken’d, Tam Lin,’ she says,
  ‘What now this night I see,        180
I wad hae taen out thy twa grey een,
  And put in twa een o’ tree.’
 
Note 1. From Johnson’s Museum, 1792, communicated by Burns. For an account of the superstition in the ballad see Sir Walter Scott’s On the Fairies of Popular Superstition. [back]
Note 2. Carterhaugh: “a plain at the confluence of the Ettrick and Yarrow in Selkirkshire.” (Scott). [back]
 
 
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