Tam Lin
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John Renfro Davis

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Tam Lin is an ancient Scots ballad which also appears in Scandinavia. The tale of "Tam Line" is mentioned in Vederburns Complaint of Scotland (1549) and an air by the name of "Young Thomlin" appears between 1600 and 1620. A ballet of "Thomalyn"was licensed in 1558. There are many variations on the name "Tam Lin" In addition to those above he is known as Tom Line, Tom Linn, Tamlin, Tomaline Tam-line and Tam Lane. These word are by Burns circa 1792.

This ballad is Child Ballad #39.

For other tunes by Burns at this site, enter enter Robert Burns in the search engine.

For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.

O I forbid you, maidens a'
That wear gowd on your hair
To come or gae by Carterhaugh
For young Tam-lin is there.

There's nane that gaes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a wad;
Either their rings or green mantles
Or else their maidenhead.

Janet has kilted her green kirtle,
A little aboon her knee;
And she's broded up her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree;
And she's awa' to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can hie.

When she cam to Carterhaugh
Tam-lin was at the well
And there she fand his steed standing
But away was himsel.

She had na' pu'd a double rose
A rose but only tway,
Till up then started young Tam-a-lin,
Says, Lady, thou's pu' nae mae.

Why pu's thou the rose, Janet
And breaks thou the wand?
Or why comes thou to Carterhaugh
Withoutten my command?

Carterhaugh it is my ain,
My daddie gave it me;
I'll come and gang by Carterhaugh
And ask nae leave at thee.

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has snooded her yellow hair,
A little aboon her bree,
And she is to her father's ha
As fast as she can hie.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ba'
And out then cam the fair Janet,
Ance the flower amang them a'

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess,
And out then cam the fair Janet,
As green as onie glass.
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Information from
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.