Thomas the Rhymer


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

Her shirt was of the grass-green silk,
Her mantle of the velvet fine,
And at every tuft of 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.

O no, O no, Thomas, she said,
That name does not belang to me,
I am but the queen of fair Elfland,
That am hither come to visit thee.

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

Betide me well, betide me woe,
That weird shall never daunton me,
Then he kissed her rosy lips,
All underneath the Eldon Tree.

Now, ye must go with me, she said,
True Thomas, ye must go with me,
And ye must serve me seven years,
Through well or woe, as may chance to be.

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

O they rode on, and farther on,
The steed went swifter than the wind,
Until they reached a desert wild,
And living land was far behind.

Light down, light down, True Thomas, she said,
And lean your head upon my knee,
Abide and rest a little space,
And I will shew you ferlies three.

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

And see ye not that broad broad road,
That lies across that lovely leven?
That is the path of wickedness,
Tho' some might call it the road to heaven.

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

But, Thomas, ye must hold your tongue,
Whatever ye may hear or see,
For, if you speak word in Elflyn land,
Ye’ll ne'er get back to your own country.

O they rode on, and farther on,
And waded thro rivers above the knee,
And they saw neither sun nor moon,
But heard the roaring of the sea.

It was mirk mirk night, and nae star light,
They waded thro red blood to the knee,
For all the blood that’s shed on earth,
Runs through the springs of that country.

Soon they came to a garden green,
She pulled an apple from a tree,
This for thy wages, True Thomas,
It will give the tongue that can never lie.

My tongue is mine own, True Thomas said,
A goodly gift ye would give to me!
I'd neither dare to buy or sell,
At fair or tryst where I may be.

I'd dare neither speak to prince or peer,
Nor ask of grace from a fair lady,
Now hold thy peace, the lady said,
For as I say, so must it be.

He's got a coat of the even cloth,
And a pair of shoes of velvet green,
And till seven years were gone and past,
True Thomas on earth was never seen.