Monday, April 6, 2009

The ballad of Tamlin

I forbid you, maidens all
That wear gold in your hair
To come and go by the woods of Carterhaugh
For fell Tamlin dwells there

For none my go by those woods so deep
But leave to him a pledge
A pledge-ring or mantle they cannot keep
Nor their maidenheads

Janet ties a mantle green
A bit above her knees
With braided hair
And a stolen mare
Away. away to woods goes she

And when she came to the heart of the wood
Beside the well, below the night
She found in the briar a two-headed rose
And pulled with all her might

And then his rusted armor rose
From beside the starry well
With a tangle of briars and starlight
And wind from the pits of hell

Says Tamlin
“why do you pull the rose,
Or break and crush the wand
Why come you to the heart of the wood,
Without my command?”

Say Janet
“Carterhaugh wood it is my own
My father gave it me
I’ll come and go” she said
“ and ask no leave of thee”

Janet ties a mantle green
A bit above her knee
With star-loose hair
A fattened mare
To her father’s house goes she

Four and twenty maidens fair
Danced her welcome ball
And into the hall came Janet
The flower of them all

And out spoke her father broken and grey
And brought to the house his shame
He shouts “you see the swollen mare,
Who shall bear the blame?

Says Janet
“hold your tongue, you greybeard fool
An ill death may you die
I’ll lay me down where I please
This child is none of thine

And if I go with child
Myself shall bear the blame
Their not a knight in all your hall
Shall have the babies name

For my love was an earthly knight
And now’s an elfin grey
I would not give my own true love
For any lord you have

He rides a steed of storms
Much faster than the wind
shod with the silver moon before
The sun’s own gold behind

Janet ties her mantle green
A bit above her knee
And braids her hair,
Milkwhite and fair
Away to the heart of the wood goes she

And beside the well of stars
The briar in the wood
From the darkbelow he rose
And beside young Janet stood

Says Tamlin
Why pull you the two headed rose
Among this grove so old and green
Why have you a moonbright knife to kill
The bonny babe we got us between?

Says Janet
“tell me Tamlin my love,
How came you here to dwell?”
Says Tamlin
The queen of air and darkness
Caught me, when from my horse I fell
And carried me off in the wood and the briar
And into the hill to dwell

And pleasant is the fairy land,
But horrors are to tell
For at the end of seven years
They pay the tithe to hell
And I am fair, and full of flesh
And fear it is myself

But the night is hallows eve
And tomorrow hallowday
And win me away from the wood you must
And we shall be away

For at the knell of midnight
The host of fair folk ride
And if you love me truly
At Miles cross you will bide

My right hand will be gloved,
And bare will be my left
My helmet open to the night wind
And I’ll ride silent among the rest

First let pass the horses black
Then let pass the horses brown
And run you to the milkwhite steed
And pull the rider down

They will turn me in your arms
Into a foul and hissing snake
But hold me tight and fear not
I am your baby’s father

And they will turn me in your arms
To a bear so grim, and a lion bold
But hold me tight and fear not
And you will love your child

And they will turn me in your arms
To a burning brand of iron
Hold me tight and fear not
No harm I’ll do to you

And when I am a burning coal
In your hand an in your heart
Cover me over with milk
And throw me in the well

And then I’ll be your own true love
And seem a naked knight
And cloak me in your mantle green
and keep me out of sight

cold and dark was the night
and eerie was the way
when Janet came in her mantle green
and at miles cross did stay

and in the mirk at the midnight hour
she heard strange trumpets sing
and she was as glad at that unholy din
as any earthly thing

and past went the knights on the night-black steeds
and past the earthly brown
and she ran to corpsewhite, lilywhite horse
and pulled the rider down

and changed he then to snake
and a bear and lion bold
and changed he then to a
burning brand
till the well did make him cold

and naked as a baby
in green she shrouded him
and stood at miles cross naked
and trembling stood Tamlin

and the queen of air and darkness
and all her troop cried out
but Janet held her husband fast
as circled they about

‘had I known, Tamlin, “spoke the queen
“what tonight I would see
I would have taken your two grey eyes
And set them in a rowan tree”

“Had I known, Tamlin” she said
What tonight I would see
A heart of stone would have been your prize
And honor in my company

based upon Child Ballad #39A,

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