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“Sunlight cascaded through the blue.
I twisted and my hair swirled out around
me in tentacles of burgundy.
I saw a tail as green as a band of
emeralds and realized it was mine.”
– Kathleen Valentine, The Old Mermaid’s Tale

Art by Peyton Gray

Oh, fellow poets. Won’t you come with me to the sea? De Jackson here, aka WhimsyGizmo, and today I want to talk of tails, and scales…and salty women who woo sailors into sleep.

First, a quick Wiki wave:

In folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

In Scottish mythology, selkies (also spelled silkies, sylkies, selchies) or selkie folk (Scots: selkie fowk) meaning “seal folk” are mythological beings capable of therianthropy, changing from seal to human form by shedding their skin.

In Greek mythology, the Sirens (Greek singular: Σειρήν, Seirḗn; Greek plural: Σειρῆνες, Seirênes) were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and singing voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on some small islands called Sirenum scopuli.

Mermaids. Sirens. Selkies. Women of the sea. Or write about a Merman, if you please. Just woo us with your mer-words, or the promise of a tempting sea shanty, or something shiny.

Here’s a little mer-spiration from some greats:

The Mermaid

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


My gentle Puck, come hither.

Thou rememberest 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?

– William Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream


O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister’s flood of tears.

Sing, siren, for thyself, and I will dote;
Spread o’er the silver waves thy golden hairs,

And as a bed I’ll take them and there lie,
And in that glorious supposition think
He gains by death that hath such means to die; 
Let Love, being light, be drowned if she sink!

– William Shakespeare – Comedy of Errors

“The Poet and the Mermaid”

Emerging from the blue waves
A cheerful and mysterious deity,
With fresh pink lips
And an enchanting ivory breast.
Her splendid raven hair
Locks on her alabaster shoulders
Her eyes have the glow of a star
And the flashing fire of love.

– Julián del Casal 

The Little Mermaid, bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Based on the 1837 fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.


“I don’t understand. All my life I’ve been waiting for someone and when I find her, she’s…she’s a fish.”
– Tom Hanks, in Splash

And of course, there’s Disney’s Ariel:

{Hey! Maybe write about a Dinglehopper!}


Still not quite feeling the pull and flow and salty call of the sea?
Borrow any line from Eliot below, and start your poem there (just be sure to give him a nod.)


Shall I part my hair? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk along the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think they sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaweed on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with sea-weed of red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

– T.S.Eliot

(That peach line gets me, every time.)


After you’ve written your mer-poem on your own blog, just link it up to Mr. Linky and then swim about awhile to visit the other amazing poems. Can’t you feel their siren song already pulling you closer?

And be sure to drop us a hello comment below, or tell us about your favorite slice of sea. I have to be at work for the next few hours after the bar opens, but Lill will be serving up something salty for me in the meantime. I’ll be in as soon as I can.

And don’t miss this week’s OLN! You’re invited to be LIVE via video for the first hour. More details to come. After Thursday’s OLN, we will have our two-week summer break. The dVerse bar will reopen on July 13th. Happy Summer!