September 16, 2006

Tam Lin

I've got a thing for Jane Yolen. Or at least for her work. Owl Moon, one of her best-known children's books, was the first book D ever asked be re-read immediately upon finishing it. Since then we've also loved Letting Swift River Go (about the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir), Raising Yoder's Barn, and, at the moment, Tam Lin.

This story is a re-telling of an old Scottish ballad by the same name, and I've been wanting for a while now to do a little digging around in the loam. So I went a-Googling, or rather, a-Scroogling. (Scroogle is an alternative search engine that "scrapes" personal information from its searches. It has been my default search tool since 2005, when I became more aware of privacy concerns as they relate to Google. I know it may seem weird for someone who is out here blogging for all the world to be harping on privacy concerns, but everything I write here I mean to be shared. Anyway. Back to Tam Lin.)

What I learned is that Tam Lin, like any good folk song, has been re-recorded and re-interpreted countless times. Abigail Acland's got a good "one stop overview" site here, and there's an interesting "life imitates art" situation here (Mergatroyd Productions trying to "rescue" Tam Lin from lawyered-up Einhorn... of course in 2006 the nasty faery Queen would be a lawyer). If I lived in NYC, I'd totally head over to the free reading on Oct. 18th. (How 'bout it, NYC friends? Can anyone go so I can live vicariously through you?)

Collector of legends Paula Kate Marmor says, "Tam Lin is probably the best-known of the traditional fairy ballads. In many ways, it is the canonical ballad."

I still love Jane Yolen's version, although I do miss the Faery Queen's lament: "Whoever has stolen Tam Lin has won the fairest knight in all my Company."

I've always loved stories (see Your Life In Stories, above), and the nightly discipline of reading them aloud to our son since shortly after his birth in 2001 has only deepened that love. (We sing together every night, too.)

But I stand in awe of story-songs like this one, stories that live again and again, down through the ages, sung and told and sung again, burnished with use until they shine and shine.

(To see where the other Sunday Scribblers went exploring, click here.)


paris parfait said...

Sharing stories with a child is one of the most delightful things on earth. Lovely post.

leaner said...

I absolutely love "Where Have the Unicorns Gone" by Jane Yolen, it is my favorite kids book to read (besides "Where the WIld Things Are.")

Waya said...

We love Jane Yolen books. We've stumbled on one of her books at the doctor's office, "The Flying Witch", it was based on a Russian fairy tale and my son asked to have it read after two visits. I guess we can add that to our collection.

Nancy said...

For more on the case see The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions