Tam Lin

7 Nov

Here are the lyrics I was looking for that led to the posting of so many Steeleye Span songs today. I was introduced to Steeleye Span when I was 16 years old and I’ve never tired of listening to their incredible ballads; they are sheer poetry. Here is the wonderful story of Tam Lin as sung by Maddy Prior:

Oh, I forbid you maidens all
That wear gold in your hair

To come or go by Carterhaugh
For young Tam Lin is there

If you go by Carterhaugh
You must leave him a wad
Either your rings or green mantle
Or else your maidenhead

She’s away o’er gravel green
And o’er gravel brown
She’s away to Carterhaugh
To flower herself a gown

She had not pulled a rosy rose
A rose but barely one
When by came this brisk young man
Says, lady let alone

How dare you pull my rose, Madam?
How dare you break my tree?
How dare you come to Carterhaugh
Without the leave of me?

Well may I pull the rose, she said
Well may I break the tree
For Carterhaugh is my father’s
I’ll ask no leave of thee

Oh, in Carterhaugh, in Carterhaugh
Oh, in Carterhaugh, in Carterhaugh

He’s take her by the milk-white hand
And there he’s laid her down
And there he asked no leave of her
As she lay on the ground

Oh tell me, tell me, then she said
Oh tell me who art thee
My name it is Tam Lin, he said
And this is my story

As it fell out upon a day
A-hunting I did ride
There came a wind out of the north
And pulled to me betide

And drowsy, drowsy as I was
The sleep upon me fell
The Queen of Fairies she was there
And took me to herself

Oh, in Carterhaugh, in Carterhaugh
Oh, in Carterhaugh, in Carterhaugh

At the end of every seven years
They pay a tithe to Hell
And I’m so fair and full of flesh
I’m feared ’twill be myself

Tonight it is good Halloween
The fairy court will ride
And if you would your true love win
At Miles Cross, you must bide

Oh, in Carterhaugh, in Carterhaugh
Oh, in Carterhaugh, in Carterhaugh

Gloomy was the night
And eerie was the way
This lady in her green mantle
To Miles Cross she did go

With the holy water in her hand
She cast the compass round
At twelve o’clock the fairy court
Came riding o’er the mound

First came by the black steed
And then came by the brown
Then Tam Lin on the milk-white steed
With a gold star in his crown

She’s pulled him down into her arms
And let the bridle fall
The Queen of Fairies she cried out
Young Tam Lin is awa’

They’ve shaped him in her arms
An adder or a snake
She’s held him fast and feared him not
To be her earthly mate

They’ve shaped him in her arms again
Fire burning bold
She’s held him fast and feared him not
Till he was iron cold

They’ve shaped him in her arms
To a wood black dog so wild
She’s held him fast and feared him not
The father of her child

They’ve shaped him in her arms at last
Into a naked man
She’s wrapped him in the green mantle
And knew that she had him won

The Queen of Fairies she cried out
Young Tam Lin is awa’

Had I known, had I known, Tam Lin
Long before, long before you came from home
Had I known, I would have taken out your heart
And put in a heart of stone

Had I known, had I known, Tam Lin
That a lady, a lady would steal thee
Had I known, I would have taken out your eyes
And put in two from a tree

Had I known, had I known, Tam Lin
That I would lose, that I would lose the day
Had I known, I would have paid my tithe to Hell
Before you’d been won away

~by Steeleye Span

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