INSPIRATIONS

The ballad that inspired the entire Feyland and Feyguard series…

The Ballad of Tam Lin

I forbid you maidens all
That wear gold in your hair
To come or go by Carter Hall
For young Tam Lin is there.

Janet has kilted her kirtle green
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her bree,
And she’s away to Carter Hall,
As fast as she can hie.

When she came to Carter Hall
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she found his steed standing,
But away was himself.

The steed that my true-love rides on
Is lighter than the wind,
With silver he is shod before,
With burning gold behind.

She had not pulled a double rose,
A rose but only two,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Says, ‘Lady, pull thou no more.’

“Why pullest thou the rose, Janet,
And why breakest thou the wand?
Or why comest thou to Carterhaugh
Withoutten my command?”

“Carterhaugh, it is my own,
My daddy gave it me,
I’ll come and go by Carterhaugh,
And ask no leave of thee.”

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her brow,
And she is to her father’s house,
As fast as she can go.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ball,
And out then came the fair Janet,
The flower among them all.

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

Out then spake an old grey knight,
Lay over the castle wall,
And says, “Alas, fair Janet, for thee,
But we’ll be blamed all.”

“Hold your tongue, ye old faced knight,
Some ill death may ye die!
Father my babe on whom I will,
I’ll father none on thee.”

Out then spake her father dear,
And he spake meek and mild,
“And ever alas, sweet Janet,” he says,
“I think thou goest with child.”

“If that I go with child, Father,
Myself must bear the blame,
There’s never a lord about your hall,
Shall give the child a name.”

“If my love were an earthly knight,
Though he’s an elfin grey,
I would not give my own true-love
For any lord that ye have.”

“The steed that my true love rides on
Is lighter than the wind,
With silver he is shod before,
With burning gold behind.”

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her brow,
And she’s away to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can go.

When she came to Carterhaugh,
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she found his steed standing,
But he was away himself.

She had not pulled a double rose,
A rose but only two,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Saying “Lady, pull thou no more.

“And once it fell upon a day
A cold day and a snell,
When we were from the hunting come,
That from my horse I fell,
The Queen of Fairies she caught me,
In yon green hill to dwell.’

‘And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
At the end of every seven years,
We pay a tiend to Hell,
I am so fair and firm of flesh,
I’m feared it be myself.’

‘The night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday,
And for to win me, win me well,
Take heed to what I say.’

‘Just at the mirk and midnight hour
The fairy folk will ride,
And they that would their true-love win,
At Miles Cross must bide.’

O first let pass the black horse,
And then let pass the brown,
But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
And pull the rider down.

‘They’ll turn me in your arms, lady,
An adder and a snake;
But hold me fast, let me not go,
To be your worldly mate.

‘They’ll turn me to a bear
And then a lion bold;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
And ye shall love your child.

‘Again they’ll turn me in your arms
To a red hot bar of iron,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I’ll do to you no harm.

At last they’ll turn me in your arms
Into a naked knight,
Then cloak me in your green mantle,
And cover me from sight.’

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

About the mirk and midnight hour
She heard the bridles sing,
She was as glad at that
As any earthly thing.

First she let the black pass by,
And then she let the brown,
But quickly she ran to the milk-white steed,
And pulled the rider down.

So well she minded what he did say,
And young Tam Lin did win;
Then covered him with her mantle green,
As blithe’s a bird in spring.

Out then spoke the Queen o Fairies,
Out of a bush of broom,
‘She that has gotten young Tam Lin
Has gotten a stately-groom.’

Out then spoke the Queen o Fairies,
Out of a bush of rye:
‘She that has gotten young Tam Lin
Has the best knight in my company.

“Had I but known, Tam Lin,’ she says,
‘Before I came from home,
I’d taken out that heart of flesh,
Put in a heart of stone.’ 
 

Collected by Francis James Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads

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