Thomas The Rhymer (Pamela Morgan) video
[Child ballad #37]
#1021: YouTube video by raymondcrooke
©2009 ~ Used with permission ~

True Thomas lay on Huntlie Bank,
A ferlie he spied with his ee,
And there he saw a lady bright,
Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.

Her dress was of the grass-green silk,
Her mantle of the velvet fine,
At ilka tett o' her horse's mane
Hung fifty silver bells and nine.

True Thomas, he pulled off his cap,
And louted low down to his knee:
"All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
Thy peer on Earth I never did see."

"Oh no, O no, Thomas," she said,
"That name does not belong to me;
I am but the Queen of fair Elfland,
That hither come to visit thee.

"Harp and carp, Thomas," she said,
"Harp and carp along with me;
And if you dare to kiss my lips,
Sure of your body I will be."

"Betide me weal, betide me woe,
That word shall never daunton me."
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
All underneath the Eildon Tree.

"Now, ye maun go with me," she said,
"True Thomas, ye maun go with me;
And ye maun serve me seven years,
Through weal or woe, as may chance to be."

She mounted on her milk-white steed,
She's taken Thomas up behind;
And aye whene'er her bridle rung,
The steed flew swifter than the wind.

O, they rade on, and further on,
The steed gaed swifter than the wind;
Until they reached a desert wide,
And living land was left behind.

"Light down, light down, now, True Thomas,
And lean your head upon my knee;
Abide and rest a little space,
And I will show you ferlies three.

"O, see ye not yon narrow road,
So thick beset with thorns and briars?
That is the path of righteousness,
Though after it but few enquire.

"And see ye not that braid, braid road
That lies across that lily leven?
That is the path of wickedness,
Though some call it the road to Heaven.

"And see ye not that bonny road,
That winds about the fernie brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland,
Where thou and I this night maun gae.

"But, Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
Whatever ye may hear or see;
For, if you speak in Elfyn land,
Ye'll neer get back to your own countrie."

O, they rade on, and further on,
Waded through rivers aboon the knee;
And they saw neither sun nor moon,
But heard the roaring of the sea.

'Twas mirk mirk night,
There was no stern light,
They waded through red blood to the knee;
For all the blood that's shed on earth,
Runs through the springs of that countrie.

When they came on to a garden green,
She pulled an apple from a tree;
"Take this for thy wages, True Thomas,
It will give you the tongue that can never lie."

"My tongue's mine own," True Thomas said,
"A goodly gift you would give to me!
I neither thought to buy nor sell,
At fair or tryst where I may be.

"I thought neither speak to prince nor peer,
Nor ask of grace from fair lady."
"Now hold thy peace," the lady said,
"For as I say, so must it be."

He's gotten a coat of the elven cloth,
And a pair of shoes of velvet green;
Till seven years were gaen and past,
True Thomas on earth was never seen.

####.... Variant of a 13th-century Scottish traditional [Child Ballad #37] The English And Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898) edited by Francis James Child (Dover, 1965).... ####
This variant was recorded by Pamela Morgan of Grand Falls, NL, on her third solo album Ancestral Songs - Songs from the Oral Tradition of Newfoundland and Labrador ©2006 Pamela Morgan Publishing (a division of Amber Music, Ltd, St John's, NL).

See more songs by Pamela Morgan.

Two variants were also published by MacEdward Leach [1897-1967] in The Ballad Book, pp.131-135 (A S Barnes, New York, 1955).

The video above features an excellent cover performance of a variant in the 1961 album The English And Scottish Popular Ballads (Child Ballads) - Vol. 1 by Ewan MacColl [1915-1989] performed by Raymond Crooke of Melbourne, Australia. In his notes, Raymond tells us this 13th-century Scottish ballad is based on a real person, Thomas Learmouth, who lived from about 1220 to 1298. He was known as Thomas the Rhymer or True Thomas, because he could not tell a lie. He was thought to have supernatural powers and was famous for his prophecies.

See more Child Ballad variants from NFLD.


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