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When Susan strayed the briny beach not far from Sligo shore,
She often thought on her true love with fondness to adore;
She thought of him with affection and her tongue pronounced his name,
For to wed a single sailor lad, she thought it was no shame.
Her father being a wealthy man and of a high degree,
And she being kind and hearted, most beautiful to see;
For many's the lords and noble men for her shed many's a tear,
She rejected them all, for her fond heart was true to Willie dear.
"I will not change my mind," said she, "I'll go for Willie dear,
He's guarded by one single plank from a deep eternity;
For once he learns we'll never part; no more from me he'll roam,
All dangers past he'll stay with me all in my happy home."
Three days after a storm arose; a tempest swell rolled high,
When Susan strayed by Briny Beach and the tears stood in her eye;
Thinking of her young sailor, that he might be outcast,
Tossed on some wicked wave or else entirely lost.
She turned herself for to go home, one loving look she gave,
She thought she saw something black a-floating with the wave;
With more than strength she bore the lifeless body high,
She took him up and laid him down where it was dry.
She gazed on his dead body which was all bruised and torn,
Till something told her troubled mind the face she'd saw before;
As she turned for to go home, one loving look she gave,
And on his finger she espy a dazzling diamond ring.
With one quick glance right well she knew that ring that Willie wore,
What she placed on his finger last parting on the shore;
The gold watch she clasped to his lips to catch one sign of breath,
His lovely neck had been unstripped; his eyes were closed in death.
His lovely neck had been unstripped; 'twas once like maiden fair,
And stripes of seaweed they were all tangled up in his dark brown hair;
Come all young men and maidens, come view a solemn sight,
There were twelve young sailors dressed in blue and twelve maids in white.
Just like some early flower cut down in youthful bloom,
Fond hearts have caused each other to sleep both in one tomb.
Collected by MacEdward Leach and published as Susan Strayed The Briny Beach, #21 in Folk Ballads And Songs Of The Lower Labrador Coast, by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
Also collected in 1958 from Arthur Nicolle of Rocky Harbour, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published as As Susan Strayed The Briny Beach in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.646-647, by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
A variant was also published as #103 in Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1968).