The Ballad of Exmoor


Photo by Caitin Shelby

“Forever shall salt water Be sipped beside the shore To remember the slaughter Of the girls of Exmoor.”

Salt water of sea reminds
Ladled into teacups
Is served with ripened lemons
And stirred with honey drops

And every brand of clover
From beneath Exmoor hill
Is slipped in by each server
‘Til all have had their fill

1840 summer storm
Atop the mourning town
Where down by the crystal sea
Three lives were then laid down

A hungry day in country
Three small girls yearned for more
So off to clover went three
The three girls of Exmoor

They giggled as they fell down
Down to churning water
Down walking to Clover’s Nell
Hand-in-hand they sauntered

Their sweet clover concoction
Honey, lemon, and sea
Sadly set into motion
The plan of young men three
The three had come, from smokestacks,
Laden with stolen goods
The three had come with knickknacks
To tempt the sisterhood

Empty clover in Exmoor
Foretold empty remains
As girls sat still by seashore
Stirring tea under rains

All at once the noise awoke
Like of a dragon’s roar
The murderers calmly spoke
To three girls of Exmoor

“Give to me your flaxen hair
Give to me your felt fear
I don’t mean to cause a scare
Oh please, three girls, come here”

The eldest of maidens then
Conceded with a frown
“We shan’t see your liar’s grin
But turn back towards our town”

Try hard they may have to run
Tears on cheeks of red rose
Three girls could not overcome
The fight the young men posed

So brine upon their lashes
And dirt upon their toes
Three girls condemned to gashes
Is all poor Exmoor knows

Poor and lingering town of old
Forever paralyzed
Cannot replace girls of gold
Who left it by its tide

It carries lone tradition
With practices of lore
For to escape perdition
Of the girls of Exmoor

For trial’s well and finished
Of three dead young males
But three girls none yet have fished
From off the coast of Wales

Forever shall salt water
Be sipped beside the shore
To remember the slaughter
Of the girls of Exmoor