Menella Bute Smedley

The Mermaid

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The moon is in the sky, and the stars are shining too,
The summer-night is calm, and the sea is very blue;
The sea is very blue, and the radiance of the moon
Is playing on the waves like a lovely floating tune!

Upon a sea-girt rock a lonely mermaid stands,
She murmurs to the sea, and she wrings her little hands;
She wrings her little hands, and she murmurs o'er and o'er,
“Alas for me! I wish that I lived upon the shore!
“The sea is very cold, it makes me shiver so,
And I do not like the fish that about me come and go;
I do not like the fish—they swim so very near,
And the large ones leap and tumble, and fill my heart with fear.

“How horrible the creatures that are round me everywhere!
Oh, why do mortals take them and keep them with such care?
They do not heed the pretty grass that scenteth wood and dell,
But they pluck my sea anemones with their horrid fishy smell.
“Oh, dismal are the caverns beneath the foaming waves,
And dismal are the mermen who live within those caves!
And the slimy, slimy seaweeds that round them cling and grow,
And the dropping, dropping waters that make me shiver so!

“How beautiful the happy homes upon the blessèd land!
How beautiful the blazing fires I hardly understand!
But I should die contented if I once had my desire,
To slumber on a downy couch beside a blazing fire!
“And pretty on the downs are the tender lambs and sheep,
And pretty are the little dogs that run about and leap;
But when the children come and play upon the silver sand,
I cry—‘Alas, for me!—I wish I lived upon the land!’

“And then on summer evenings, Oh, what enchanting bliss,
To wander amid green, green woods on such a night as this!
With the blue heavens above your head that always tranquil lie,
Unlike the restless, leaping waves that form our troubled sky!”
Thus floated on the night breeze, on summer evenings long,
This lamentation, wild and strange, the lovely mermaid's song;
And still the burden was the same, repeated o'er and o'er,
“Alas, for me!—I wish that I lived upon the shore!”

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Menella Bute Smedley