Tam Lin Balladry

A website of folklore and discovery.

To Janet

by Jacob Williamson

To Janet

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

--The Ballad of Tam Lin

  • These seven years I walked alone
    consigned to this cold vale of thorns,
    marking days and years by bloom
    of wild rose, the moon, the hunter's horn.
    The blood that beads on holly, blood that fell
    to buy men's souls, and free them from
    perdition, from this earthly hell,
    fell not for me. If Christ's kingdom come,
  • I burn for love, condemned by lionish desire,
    unearthly pride, the favor of a maid
    born of this sunless realm, maid of ice and fire--
    not by Thy holly blood will her debt to Hell be paid,
    but by my own, fairest by my mother borne,
    a fallen knight, by my own heart betrayed,
    for I took your love, my fiery queen foresworn.
    In you I died, both you and I unmade.
  • Brave the rain, Janet, and this outlandish road.
    My hope, my life, lies within you. Do not kill
    this love that we between us sowed,
    with the rose's thorn your dark blood spill.
    My queen has taken all from me, save my name--
    That title, it is yours, but take it.
    I am kept here in this garden, this rose and I the same.
    Free me from this earth, hold the flower's stem, and break it.


Added to site 2005