legendary aquatic creature with the upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish
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)
- O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister's flood of tears.
- 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,
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.
- William Butler Yeats, "A Man Young And Old: III. The Mermaid" (1926).
- Today's mermaids are fun-loving and friendly. The frightening, destroyer sirens of the past have been ousted in favor of pleasure-seeking playmates. Their youthful abandon, grace and sense of freedom invite us to lighten up. They remind us to enjoy life and glide through the waters of life, rather than struggling. Perhaps these bathing beauties are just what we need now to help us escape from the stress of the modern world and our anxiety about the future.
- Skye Alexander, Mermaids: The Myths, Legends & Lore (2012)