According to the classic source from Professor F.J. Child, Thomas the Rhymer was a bard whose supernatural tale is recounted in the English and Scottish Popular Ballads #37. According to historical records, attested through land deeds, Thomas of Ercildoune was an actual person who lived in 13th Century Scotland.
One day Thomas met a woman so spectacular he dropped everything and bowed low. “Hail to thee, Queen of Heaven,” he said.
The Lady demurred, kissed him, and bade him follow: she was the Queen of Faerie. They travel for forty days and forty nights and cross a river of blood beneath a sky with no moon nor sun. In some versions, they pass a garden with a prominent tree, and as Thomas reaches for the apple, his mentress cautions against the “very fruit o’ hell” and serves him bread and claret wine instead.
Eventually, they come to a three-pronged intersection. In a tale cribbed from Christ’s teaching on the broad and narrow gates, the narrow road beset with thorns is the path of righteousness after which, says our balladeer, “few enquire.” The broad road—the wide, easy path—is the road to hell “tho’ some call it the road to heaven.” A third path, unique to fairie lore, is the “bonny road” to “fair Elfland.”
The Fairie Queen gives Thomas a taboo: he must not speak in her court. He must serve her for seven years (or, seven years and a day). Eventually, when the Fairie Court’s periodic teine (tithe) to hell comes due, court machinations seek to sacrifice the most readily available mortal, and the Faerie Queen fears for his life because he is so handsome (“leesome and sae strang.”) As a parting gift, she gives him his wages: True Speech, the “tongue that can never lie.”
Eggplant Literary Productions has a fabulous “transdimensional library” of books which have “never existed” or “haven’t been written yet.”
Therein, you will find my very own love songs for the Fairie Queen ostensibly penned by Thomas the Rhymer. http://eggplantproductions.com/?p=544
View the library catalog card here: http://eggplantproductions.com/?page_id=69
Also check out the interplanetary classifieds http://eggplantproductions.com/?p=418
and a sorcerer’s income tax return http://eggplantproductions.com/?p=491 while you’re there.
Child, Francis James. English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Available online through the Internet Sacred Text Archive at http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch037.htm