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Dreamer In Silico

Chapter notes

The Ballad of Tam Lin that Sarah references several times here and later in the story is a very old, traditional Scottish ballad that tells of a young woman who rescues her lover from the hold of the Fae. Below are the lyrics from the version that's quoted in the story, a mostly modern-English take on it by the musical trio Tricky Pixie.

The Ballad of Tam Lin


I forbid ye maidens all who let fly your lovely hair

to go down to Carterhaugh, for young Tam Lin is there

Janet tied her kirtle green above her knee and not below

and she's gone to carterhaugh just as fast as she can go

She's come to the roses growing wild she's pulled a single one

when a wild young man appears and cries 'O, lady, let alone!

'How dare you pull my roses out, how dare you break my tree

How dare you run in these green woods without asking leave of me?'

Says Janet fair 'this wood's my own, my father gave it me

And I can pluck myself a rose without asking leave of thee.'

Bold as brass, he takes her hand and color rises to her skin

She looks the young man in the eye and knows him now for young Tam Lin.


Janet holds her petticoats well above her dirty knee

and she's gone to her father's hall just as fast as she can hie.

All the ladies of the court at their play turn red as rose

except for Janet, fainting fast, green as growing grass she goes

Out then speaks her father dear, doting, caring, meek and mild.

'Janet, darling daughter mine, I fear you go with child.'

'Father, if I be with child, be sure myself shall bear the blame.

There's not a knight within your hall shall get the baby's name.

Father, if I be with child, 'twill prove a wondrous birth

for well I swear it's not the get of any mortal man on earth.'


Janet's tied her kirtle green when near nine months are gone

And she's away to Carterhaugh, to speak with young Tam Lin.

But young Tam Lin will not be found, and Janet's in despair

to the forest floor she falls and swift her lover catches her

Janet asks 'Tam Lin, my love, why is it in these woods you hide?' '

The queen of faeries stole me hence, alas, when I was but a child.

'My lordly sire was a skillful man and hunting he loved well

but I was prey for the faerie Queen when from my horse I fell.

'Ever since, in yon green hill, with the Queen I'm bound to dwell

I'd never tire of living there for the land of Faerie does me well

'But at the end of seven years, the queen doth pay a tithe to hell

I am so fair and full of flesh, I fear 'twill be myself.'


Tonight's the night of Halloween, and the fairy court will ride;

And she that would her true love win at Miles Cross must bide.

'But how shall I thee ken, Tam-lin? Or how shall I thee know?

Among a troupe of faerie knights, the like I never saw?'

'First let pass the horses black then let pass the brown

Run ye to the milk white steed and pull that rider down.

'They will change me in your arms into a deadly adder

but hold me fast and fear me not I am the baby's father

'They will change me in your arms into a bear or lion bold

but hold me fast and fear me not I am the father of your child

'At last they'll change me in your arms into a naked knight.

Then cast your mantle over me and keep me out of sight.'


Gloomy, gloomy, was the night, and eery was the way,

As Janet in her mantle green to Miles Cross did hie.

The heavens dressed in baleful black and all was silent as the grave,

But Janet waited in the dark, her own true love to save.

Betwixt the hour of twelve and one, the north wind blew and tore and rent

she heard the elfin bridles ring upon the wind where e'er it went

Janet stood, with mind unmoved, the gloomy heath upon,

And louder, louder rang the bells, as the fairy court came riding on.

First rode by the night black steeds, and then went by the brown;

then up she ran to the charger pale, and pulled her lover down.

They changed him in her arms to all the beasts and flames and hateful things,

but she did all that her lover bade and young Tam Lin she won.

Up then spoke the Faery Queen; an angry queen was she!

'Woe betide the wretch who's ta'en the best knight of Our company!

'Had I but known, Tam-Lin,' she said, 'what defeat this night I'd see

I'd've stolen both thine eyes and changed thee fast into a tree.

Had I but known, Tam-lin,' she said, 'before we left this night to roam,

I'd've et thy heart of flesh and left thee with a heart of stone!'


Janet tied her kirtle green above her knee and not below

and she's off to Carterhaugh as fast as love can go.

2/21/2011 #1
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