(9/24/02 4:17:16 am)
| Understanding and Plucking Roses|
I'm a new member to this board, and I have a question according to the understanding of Tam Lin.
Do you think that the original ballad includes the option of abortion (I have the version edited by Emily Lyle, printed in the Canongate Classics, Edinburgh 1997)
The only evidence I can find in the text are the following stanzas:
She had na pu'd a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Til up then started youn Tam Lin,
Says lady, thou pu's nae mae.
Why pu's thou the rose, Janet,
Amang the groves sae green,
And a' to kill the bonie babe
That we gat us between?
I have a bit trouble understanding the contraction "pu'd". Does it mean "pulled", or is it some other Scots particularity, which I do not understand? And if it means pulled - is plucking roses a metaphor for collecting herbs for abortive purposes?
For me the poetic plucking of roses signifies rather the first sexual intercourse - as in Christina Rosettis poem:
A Daughter of Eve
A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
A fool to snap my lily.
My garden-plot I have not kept;
Faded and all-forsaken,
I weep as I have never wept;
Oh it was summer when I slept,
It's winter now I waken.
Talk what you please of future spring
And sun-warm'd sweet to-morrow:--
Stripp'd bare of hope and everything,
No more to laugh, no more to sing,
I sit alone with sorrow.
(9/24/02 6:27:21 am)
| alternate roses|
One thought that occurs to me is that the "double rose" is a term for another plant. A number of plant names contain "rose" -- rose of Sharon and rose of China, which are hibiscuses (hibisci?), for example, or rosecrown, which is a Sedum (stonecrop), or tuberrose. The hellebore species grown as a horticultural specimen is sometimes called "Lenten rose," and hellebore is chock-full of vicious alkaloids, including one or two that have current pharmacological use. Don't know that any of them would be effective abortifacients, but the North American species' root, used medicinally and ritually by Native people, can certainly kill you if unexpertly prepared and consumed. Unfortunately all my plant reference books are New World and unhelpful for this question.
Another possibility is that it refers not to folk pharmacology but folk magic, and that Janet is pulling real roses to do something else with them--?
(9/24/02 7:57:25 am)
If you haven't already seen it, www.tam-lin.org has a short bit on the symbolism of the rose:
According to the site, one of the variations among the versions is the inclusion of the suggestion and specific intention to get an herb that will cause an abortion:
When you go to the page, use your "find (on this page)" and search for abortion. It should take you right to the section.
Hope this helps!
Edited by: BlackHolly at: 9/24/02 8:00:48 am