She b(le)w …horne on hir palfray, And lef…thomas at eldyrn…. Til helms dale she toke [th]e w(ay), A(n)d thus dep


rted [th]


t lady and he. (Nixon 2: 83, ll. 681-4)

Although Thomas the Rhymer and the Queen of Fairies go their separate ways at the end of this medieval romance version of the popular legend, Thomas presciently asks his otherworldly captor “If we shall p(art for) euer and ay?” (Nixon 83: l. 676, Cambridge MS). Some kind of end to their fateful union may be implied in the surviving romance and ballad traditions, but the Rhymer’s story in terms of literary and cultural retellings has resolutely resisted closure. The narrative of Thomas the Rhymer ¾ his abduction to Fairyland, or “Elfland”, for three years or more and the prophetic and poetic powers he thereby

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Citation: Dunnigan, Sarah. "Thomas of Ercildoune". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 June 2011 [, accessed 26 May 2024.]

12759 Thomas of Ercildoune 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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