Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mermaid Poem by
Afred Lord Tennyson

The following mermaid poem was written in 1830.

The Mermaid

WHO would be
A mermaid fair,
Singing alone,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,
On a throne?

I would be a mermaid fair;
I would sing to myself the whole of the day;
With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair;
And still as I comb’d I would sing and say,
“Who is it loves me? who loves not me?”
I would comb my hair till my ringlets would fall,
Low adown, low adown,
From under my starry sea-bud crown
Low adown and around,
And I should look like a fountain of gold
Springing alone
With a shrill inner sound,
Over the throne
In the midst of the hall;
Till that great sea-snake under the sea
From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps
Would slowly trail himself sevenfold
Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate
With his large calm eyes for the love of me.
And all the mermen under the sea
Would feel their immortality
Die in their hearts for the love of me.

But at night I would wander away, away,
I would fling on each side my low-flowing locks,
And lightly vault from the throne and play
With the mermen in and out of the rocks;
We would run to and fro, and hide and seek,
On the broad sea-wolds in the crimson shells,
Whose silvery spikes are nighest the sea.
But if any came near I would call, and shriek,
And adown the steep like a wave I would leap
From the diamond-ledges that jut from the dells;
For I would not be kiss’d by all who would list,
Of the bold merry mermen under the sea;
They would sue me, and woo me, and flatter me,
In the purple twilights under the sea;
But the king of them all would carry me,
Woo me, and win me, and marry me,
In the branching jaspers under the sea;
Then all the dry pied things that be
In the hueless mosses under the sea
Would curl round my silver feet silently,
All looking up for the love of me.
And if I should carol aloud, from aloft
All things that are forked, and horned, and soft
Would lean out from the hollow sphere of the sea,
All looking down for the love of me.

I don't read much of Tennyson, I think it's because I have a hard time finding the melody of his poems but this one struck me as a song, the song of the Mermaid. This morning feels like a mermaid morning as the snow is all melting and the air is thick with foggy water and it feels as though a mermaid could pop out of the fog of the yard and swim in one of the big melting snow puddles. We've been under frozen snow for so long, just to see the grass seems a respite, a bit of spring teasing us and as I am still missing summer's heat the little bit of warmth has given me a shot of inspiration and hope that soon it will be time to plant flowers and play outside a little.

I am a little fascinated with men who write in the voice of a woman, even if she's a merwoman. I am reading a book about Dickenson and he really enjoyed writing in a woman's voice. I think perhaps it's a chance to imagine what it's like to think like woman, a man's great mystery. Sometimes they hit it right on the mark and sometimes they are so off that it makes me giggle a little wanting to find one of those oh so wise men and just mess up their hair a little and tell them to go play golf or something.

I think I have been willing spring all week, getting a pedicure, looking for flower seeds, buying sandals. Perhaps it's the modern day spring dance, the rituals that will bring the sun and the warmth. If I see antoher snowflake, I may just lose it. It's been a long long winter. Before I sound more like Laura on little house on the prairie, I am off to get some work done.

If you'd like to see more of my work you can find it at You can always reach me at Take care and thanks for spending this time with me, Carrie.


shelliebee said...

I absolutely love your jewelry designs! I haven't purchased anything ...yet... but I'm hoping to. I'm a 43 year old woman. I'm looking for something to create myself. Thanks for the inspiration! Oh and...Courtney Love? How fucking cool is that!!!!

Jilliene Designs said...

Just wanted to tell you that I love your stuff! You are an inspiration to a -work-in-progress artist like me!

Anonymous said...

This is Alaina. In Feb. you sent me some things for my birthday and I just realized that I hadn't thanked you. School has a way of doing that sometimes. I seem to have lost the piece of paper with your email, thats why I'm contacting you here. I just wanted to say thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart. I have really enjoyed the pieces you sent. I plan on making a few of my own once school is out for the summer. Thank you again!

Summerpoet said...

Alaina: you rock. I want you to revel in school. It will make you the happier person later. My son is forever studying, working, trying to make school work for him. You can always reach me at Thanks again, Carrie.

KLBK said...

what a hilarious take on this poem! It is my husband's favorite poet (besides Poe whom you seem to be a fan of as well...). I studied Moniva Alvi who wrote poetry as her husband, in fact watching her through her pregnancy. You're right, fascinating. Great blog and you're my first buyer on GoldenMustard! :) Thanks