Tam Lin or Queen of the Fairies

Tam Lin or Queen of the Fairies

The maid that sits in Katherine’s Hall
Clad in her robes so black
She has to yon garden gone
For flowers to flower her hat.

She has not pulled the red, red rose
A double rose but three
When up there starts a gentleman
Just at the lady’s knee.

Say’s ‘Who’s that pulls the red, red rose
Breaks branches of the tree
This garden in Moorcartney wood
Without the leave o’ me?’

‘Yes, I will pull the red, red rose,
Break branches off the tree,
This garden in Moorcartney wood,
Without the leave o thee.’

:He took her by the milk-white hand
And gently laid her down,
Just in below some shady trees
Where the green leaves hung down.

‘Come tell to me, kind sir,’ she said,
‘What before you never told;
Are you an earthly man?’ said she,
‘A knight or a baron bold?’

‘I’ll tell to you, fair lady,’ he said,
‘What before I neer did tell;
I’m Earl Douglas’s second son,
With the queen of the fairies I dwell.

‘When riding through yon forest-wood,
And by yon grass-green well,
A sudden sleep me overtook,
And off my steed I fell.

The queen of the fairies, being there,
Made me with her to dwell,
And still once in the seven years
We pay a teind to hell.

‘And because I am an earthly man,
Myself doth greatly fear,
For the cleverest man in all our train
To Pluto must go this year.

‘This night is Halloween, lady,
And the fairies they will ride;
The maid that will her true-love win
At Miles Cross she may bide.’

‘But how shall I thee ken, though, sir?
Or how shall I thee know,
Amang a pack o hellish wraiths,
Before I never saw?’

‘Some rides upon a black horse, lady,
And some upon a brown,
But I myself on a milk-white steed,
And I aye nearest the toun.

‘My right hand shall be covered, lady,
My left hand shall be bare,
And that’s a token good enough
That you will find me there.

‘Take the Bible in your right hand,
With God for to be your guide,
Take holy water in thy left hand,
And throw it on every side.’

She’s taen her mantle her about,
A cane into her hand,
And she has unto Miles Cross gone,
As hard as she can gang.

First she has letten the black pass by,
And then she has letten the brown,
But she’s taen a fast hold o the milk-white steed,
And she’s pulled Earl Thomas doun.

The queen of the fairies being there,
Sae loud she’s letten a cry,
‘The maid that sits in Katherine’s Hall
This night has gotten her prey.

‘But hadst thou waited, fair lady,
Till about this time the morn,
He would hae been as far from thee or me
As the wind that blew when he was born.’

They turned him in this lady’s arms
Like the adder and the snake;
She held him fast; why should she not?
Though her poor heart was like to break.

They turned him in this lady’s arms
Like two red gads of airn;
She held him fast; why should she not?
She knew they could do her no harm.

They turned him in this lady’s arms
Like to all things that was vile;
She held him fast; why should she not?
The father of her child.

They turned him in this lady’s arms
Like to a naked knight;
She’s taen him hame to her ain bower,
And clothed him in armour bright.

Collected from Alexander Kirk 14/10/1886