[[quoteright:185:[[http://spiritoftheages.com/Tamlane%20%28Ballads%20Weird%20and%20Wonderful,%201912%29%20-%20Vernon%20Hill.htm http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Tamlane_VernonHill_274.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:185: [- Burd Janet waits for the Fairy Ride (Vernon Hill, 1912) -] ]]

->''"If my love were an earthly knight,\\
As he's an elfin grey,\\
I wad na gie my ain true-love\\
For nae lord that ye hae."''

"Tam Lin" is Literature/{{Child Ballad|s}} #39, stemming from OralTradition, and one of the most popular ballads, both as a song and as a source for literature. It is from southern Scotland; the oldest known version was printed in 1549.

In a nutshell: Headstrong young Janet hears that the mysterious Tam Lin has forbidden all maidens to go to the wood called Carterhaugh (a real place; it's near Selkirk), on pain of... how shall we put this... [[FateWorseThanDeath no longer being maidens]]. She declares that she will go to Carterhaugh, but she has no sooner picked a rose[[note]]in ballads and stories, picking a rose summons the ruler of the place. See also "Literature/BeautyAndTheBeast".[[/note]] than Tam Lin himself shows up...

Some time later, a knight at Janet's father's court remarks that Janet looks knocked up. Janet agrees, but says the baby's father is not any of the men at her father's court. She returns to Carterhaugh and speaks to Tam Lin.

Tam Lin tells Janet that he was once mortal, but was captured by the Queen of the Fairies. The fairy folk must make a sacrifice to Hell every seven years, and Tam Lin fears that he's going to be offered.[[note]]There's an oblique reference to this in ''[[ComicBook/TheSandman Sandman]]''.[[/note]] Janet can save him, he explains, if she waits by Miles Cross until midnight on [[AllHallowsEve Halloween]]. That's when the fairy folk will ride by, and Tam Lin will be on a white horse. She must pull him down off his horse and hold on to him throughout his transformations. Janet does this, and the Queen of the Fairies is obliged to let Tam Lin go. Tam Lin and Janet marry.

Creator/JosephJacobs rewrote the ballad into a prose fairy tale, "Tamlane", published in his 1894 ''More English Fairy Tales''. In "Tamlane", Burd Janet and Tamlane are lovers and engaged to begin with, but Tamlane disappears mysteriously (i.e. is kidnapped by the elves) before the wedding (thus getting rid of the whole [[{{Bowdlerize}} knocking-up business]]).

The numerous variants collected by Francis Child can be found [[http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch039.htm here]]. Joseph Jacobs' "Tamlane" can be read [[http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/More_English_Fairy_Tales/Tamlane here.]] The song or songs inspired by it have been recorded by numerous artists, including Fairport Convention, Music/SteeleyeSpan, Music/{{Current 93}}, and Music/TheDecemberists (the latter a loose adaptation of it as ''The Hazards of Love'' [[spoiler:with a DownerEnding]]).
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!!Tropes featured in the ballad:
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* AllHallowsEve: Janet must wait until midnight that night to save Tam Lin on account of it being when the Fair Folk will ride.
* DistressedDude: Tam Lin is held captive by the elves with magic, and needs Burd Janet to rescue him.
* TheFairFolk: The main antagonists and the titular character. Tam Lin himself seems to be an adult changeling if anything, having been a human who was taken and turned into a fairy. Lucky for him, he seems to have been afflicted with a curse that can be cured.
* FantasyContraception: In some versions this is why Janet goes back to Cartheraugh.
* HumanSacrifice: Tam Lin knows the fairies pay a tithe to hell and thinks it'll be him.
* LawOfInverseFertility: As is common in ballads and stories, unmarried noblewoman Janet--the last person who can afford to risk sex before marriage--gets pregnant pretty much instantly.
* NarrativePoem: One of the most well known.
* PluckyGirl: Rather than scream and run from the Fairy who everyone is terrified of, she mouths off to him that she can come and go as she pleases, it being her kingdom and all.
* RebelliousPrincess: Janet was explicitly told not to go to Carterhaugh, doesn't stop her.
* RescueRomance: Granted the rescue comes second, but it still fits.
* UnspokenPlanGuarantee: Inverted, Tam Lin tells Janet how to save him and then the poem goes into detail about her actually doing it and it goes off without a hitch.
* WhiteStallion: Tam Lin claims that he was given this honor in the wild hunt because he was once a human knight.
* TheWildHunt: What the fairies are doing when Janet rescues Tam Lin.
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!!Works derived from this ballad:
* Creator/CharlesDeLint's short story "The Butter Spirit's Tithe."
* Creator/DianaWynneJones's ''Literature/FireAndHemlock''
* Elizabeth Bear's ''Blood & Iron''
* Elizabeth Marie Pope's ''Literature/ThePerilousGard''
* In ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', both Magrat's rescue of Verence in ''Discworld/LordsAndLadies'' and Tiffany's rescue of Roland in ''Discworld/TheWeeFreeMen'' have elements of ''Tam Lin''. Magrat is even inspired by hearing the ballad, despite Shawn's insistence that [[ThisIsReality real life isn't like folk songs]].
* Janet [=McNaughton's=] ''An Earthly Knight''
* John Myers Myers's ''Silverlock'' contained a ShoutOut chapter.
* PamelaDean's ''Tam Lin''
* Tam Lin has shown up on several occasions in the ''Franchise/ShinMegamiTensei'' series.
* While not a direct reference, there's a character called Tam Lin in Nancy Farmer's ''Literature/HouseOfTheScorpion''.
* Creator/PatriciaAMcKillip's ''Winter Rose''.
* Creator/MercedesLackey's ''Home from the Sea'' of the ''Literature/ElementalMasters'' series is strongly based off of this tale. To the point that the main character has to do the shapeshifting hold - with the twist that ''she'' also has to shapeshift to keep hold of her love.
* In the ''Literature/DresdenFiles'' series' 14th book, ''Literature/ColdDays'', it is revealed that Tam Lin once served the Winter Court as Winter Knight, and was one of the few Knights to call Maeve/The Winter Court to task for their treatment of humans before Harry took up the position.
* A chapter in Creator/PhilFoglio's ''XXXenophile'' has a character do this to rescue her love. It's a bit more explicit naturally, as she has to have in a "lover's clasp" throughout the transformations. Naturally, this series being what it is, you don't have to guess what that entails.
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