Burd Ellen and Young Tamlane Child Ballads #28

Burd Ellen sits in her bower windowe,
With a double laddy double
And for the double dow
Twisting the red silk and the blue
With the double rose and the May-hay.

And whiles she twisted and whiles she twan
And whiles the tears fell down amang.

Till once thee by cam Young Tamlane
"Come light, oh light, and rock your young son."

"If you winna roack him, you may not let him rair,
For I hae rockit my share and more."

Young Tamlane to the seas he's gane,
And a' women's curse in his company gane.

Burd Ellen: sister of Childe Roland who is abducted to Elfland.

Tamlane: Tam Lin, conceivably the Tom of Thomas the Rhymer and Tom O'Bedlam, the young man abducted to Elfland to be the Fairy Queen's lover, and earns her displeasure by sleeping with human girls in the woods.

It is hypothesized that Burd Ellen, while in Elfland, sleeps with Tam Lin and becomes pregnant by him, like Janet in the ballad of Tam Lin; after being rescued by her brother Rowland, she warns other girls about the dangers of falling for Youn Tamlane, who stays in Elfland.

For a similar tale, see "The Goblin Market" by Christina Rosetti.

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