Tam Lin

The first appearance of the ballad of Tam lin is in the ‘The Complaynt of Scotland‘ which was printed in 1549.

I found the tale re told in a book which was part of a series of fairy stories around the world, which my local library had in the children’s section and which I worked my way through, many times.

It is about a headstrong young woman, named Janet who goes where she wills and falls in love with someone  who is under the thrall of the Queen of Fairies so she rescues him, by being brave and seeing through the glamours cast on him.

There are many different versions and variations of the ballad, most of them have been collated here at http://www.tam-lin.org/tamlin1.html

Of course one of the most famous modern english versions was recorded by Fairport Convention.

I don’t know if we will ever see a Disney movie version of Tam Lin, how ever I do know I preferred that Janet as a role model rather then Cinderella or Sleeping beauty growing up.  And then there is the haunting way it ends, with the last words given to the Queen of Fairies, which has always made me wonder what happened next for it seemed to me that this was not going to be the last encounter between her and Janet.

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. “But had I kend, Tam Lin,” said she,
    “What now this night I see,
    I wad hae taen out thy twa grey een,
    And put in twa een o tree.”

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