Tam Lin Balladry

A website of folklore and discovery.

Tam Lin: Meta Version

Why a Meta Version?

This version is a product of the analysis of this website. The versions of Tam Lin available at this site have been examined to determine the most common events, and a sort of meta-ballad created from those tales. This is an attempt by this website to present a modern English version of the story that contains the central elements of the tale without (hopefully) introducing too much new data for the sake of coherant story-telling.

Most Common Events

Based on the tracking in the Storyline Table (currently being updated, will be available when current again)

  • Warning is given not to enter Caterhaugh for fear of Tam Lin
  • Tam Lin takes objects of value, including virginity, from maidens
  • Janet is sewing or decorating, and wishes for flowers
  • Janet travels to Carterhaugh
  • Janet plucks roses
  • Tam Lin appears
  • Tam Lin tells Janet to stop plucking the roses/flowers
  • Tam Lin questions Janet's presence in the woods without his permission
  • Janet claims to not need Tam Lin's permission
  • Janet tells Tam Lin that she owns the woods or is heir to it
  • Tam Lin takes Janet by the hand or the waist
  • Janet looks wan or green
  • A bystander comments that Janet is pregnant
  • Janet declares that no man present is the father
  • Janet returns to Carterhaugh
  • Tam Lin appears
  • Tam Lin asks Janet if she intends to harm the baby or warns her against taking herbs
  • Janet questions Tam Lin about his heritage
  • Tam Lin identifies himself as a human
  • Tam Lin was kidnapped as an adult
  • Tam Lin fell off of his horse [while hunting]
  • Tam Lin enjoys living with the faeries
  • The faeries perform sacrifices to hell
  • every seventh year
  • Tam Lin fears he may be the next because he is so fair
  • The night or next day on Halloween (Samhain)
  • Janet travels to a crossroad or bridge
  • Tam Lin's horse is milk-white
  • The faerie troop cries out that Tam Lin is away
  • Janet puts her mantle around Tam Lin
  • The Queen wishes she'd torn out Tam Lin's eyes and put in eyes of wood
  • The Queen wishes she'd replaced Tam Lin's heart with a stone

Tam Lin Meta Version

  1. I forbid all young girls
    Who have golden hair
    To travel down to Carterhaugh
    For young Tam Lin is there
  2. From all that pass through Carterhaugh
    He will take a fee
    Their rings or their green mantles
    Or their virginity
  3. Janet was sitting by her window
    Sewing a lovely seam
    And wished to be in Caterhaugh
    To walk the woods so green
  4. She tucked up her skirt of green
    And she tied back her hair
    And she left for Carterhaugh
    In great haste to get there
  5. She had just pulled a single rose
    She'd only taken one
    When suddenly Tam Lin appeared
    To protest what she'd done
  6. "Why do you pluck the red red rose
    And why do you harm the tree
    And why have you come to Carterhaugh
    Without first asking me?"
  7. "I have the right to come to Caterhaugh
    The rights are mine by birth
    So I will come to Carterhaugh
    And not ask your leave first."
  8. He put his arm around her waist
    And they lay on the ground
    And what they did next I couldn't say
    The leaves were all around
  9. Janet went to her father's house
    And all who saw believed
    She was now looking pale and green
    They feared she had conceived.
  10. "Well I have had a lover
    And now I am with child.
    It was not with any man here
    But a fairie in the wild"
  11. She tucked up her skirt of green
    And she tied back her hair
    And she left for Carterhaugh
    In much haste to get there
  12. "Why have you come to Carterhaugh
    Past the fields of heather
    And will you kill the lovely babe
    That we have made together?"
  13. "You must tell me now, Tam Lin,
    Tell the truth to my face,
    Are you a mortal man
    And can you leave this place?"
  14. "I am a mortal man
    And of human flesh and blood,
    Human by my birth,
    And human in my love.
  15. "I used to go out hunting
    But I fell from my horse one day.
    The Queen of Fairies captured me
    And in their land I must stay.
  16. "The faerie land is a pleasant place
    But there's a darker side as well.
    At the end of every seven years
    They make a sacrifice to hell.
  17. "I am so young and handsome
    I fear that they'll choose me
    To be the one to pay the price
    Unless I can get free.
  18. "Tonight is Halloween
    And the faeries will be in sight
    If you wait for them at Mile's cross.
    Please come for me tonight.
  19. "Take a hold of me when I pass by.
    Hold me tight to you.
    Promise me you won't let go
    No matter what they do.
  20. "They'll turn me into a frightening beast,
    And things to give alarm,
    But underneath I'm your own love still
    And I will not do you harm.
  21. "They'll turn me to a lion.
    They'll turn me into a snake.
    They'll turn me into a burning thing,
    All to get your grip to break.
  22. "When I am a man again
    Put your green cloak over me.
    I'll be as naked as a newborn child
    But love, I will be free."
  23. She tucked up her skirt of green
    And she tied back her hair
    And she left for Mile's Cross
    In great haste to get there.
  24. The faerie horses came riding by
    In the middle of the night
    And some were black and some were brown
    But Tam Lin's was milk-white.
  25. She pulled him down from off his horse
    With her arms around his shape.
    The faerie court gave an angry yell
    "Tam Lin is trying to escape!"
  26. They transformed him into frighting beasts
    And into things to give alarm
    But she held on tight and feared him not
    And he didn't do her harm.
  27. At last he was himself again
    So she wrapped him in her cloak.
    She was rejoicing in her victory
    When the Queen of Faeries spoke.
  28. "If I had know, Tam Lin," she says
    "that you were up to no good
    I'd have taken out your green eyes
    and put in eyes of wood."
  29. "If I had known, Tam Lin," she says
    "you would have always been alone!
    For I'd have taken out your mortal heart
    And put in a heart of stone."


Added to site July 2003