Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Walter de la Mare, Mermaids

Two poems of the mermaids who bewitched the poet, Walter de la Mare (April 25, 1873 – June 22, 1956).

A Mermaid; Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann; 1863

 The Mermaid

 Leagues, leagues over the sea I sail

Couched on a wallowing dolphin's tail.

The sky is on fire, the waves a-sheen,
I dabble my foot in the billows green.

In a sea-weed hat on the rocks I sit,
where tern and sea-mew glide and beat,
and where dark shadows the cormorants meet.

In caverns cool when the tide's a wash,
I sound my conch to the watery splash.

From out their grottos at evenings beam,
the mermaids swim with locks agleam.
En Havfrue; Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann; 1863

 The Mermaids
Sand, sand; hills of sand;
And the wind where nothing is
Green and sweet of the land;
No grass, no trees,
No bird, no butterfly,
But hills, hills of sand,
And a burning sky.

Sea, sea, mounds of the sea,
Hollow, and dark, and blue,
Flashing incessantly
The whole sea through;
No flower, no jutting root,
Only the floor of the sea,
With foam afloat.

Blow, blow, winding shells;
And the watery fish,
Deaf to the hidden bells,
In the water splash;
No streaming gold, no eyes,
Watching along the waves,
But far-blown shells, faint bells,
From the darkling caves.


  1. There is a lovely interlude in Walter de la Mare's children's book "The Three Mulla-Mulgars" (1919) where the young Nod meets a 'Water Midden' of great beauty who sings a simple sad little song.

  2. Sounds quite lovely! I'll have to look it up & include it on the blog sometime! Thanks! :)