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legendary aquatic creature with the upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish
O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister's flood of tears.

Mermaids are mythological aquatic creatures with a female human head and torso and the tail of a fish. Mermaids are represented broadly in folklore, literature and popular culture.


  • To aid your toils, to scatter death,
    Swift, as the sheeted lightning's force,
    When the keen north-wind's freezing breath
    Spreads desolation in its course,
    My soul within this icy sea,
    Fulfils her fearful destiny.
    Thro' Time's long ages I shall wait
    To lead the victims to their fate;
    With callous heart, to hidden rocks decoy,
    And lure, in seraph-strains, unpitying, to destroy.
    • Anne Bannerman, 'The Mermaid' (1800)
  • Since once I sat upon a promontory,
    And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back
    Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
    That the rude sea grew civil at her song:
    And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
    To hear the sea-maid's music.
  • 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 I would sing and say,
    "Who is it loves me? who loves not me?"
    • Alfred Tennyson, The Mermaid; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 511.
  • Slow sail'd the weary mariners and saw,
    Betwixt the green brink and the running foam,
    Sweet faces, rounded arms, and bosoms prest
    To little harps of gold; and while they mused
    Whispering to each other half in fear,
    Shrill music reach'd them on the middle sea.
    • Alfred Tennyson, The Sea Fairies; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 511.
  • A mermaid found a swimming lad
    Picked him for her own,
    Pressed her body to his body,
    Laughed; and plunging down
    Forgot in cruel happiness
    That even lovers drown.

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