George MacDonald

(10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905 / Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

The Mermaid - Poem by George MacDonald

Up cam the tide wi' a burst and a whush,
And back gaed the stanes wi' a whurr;
The king's son walkit i' the evenin hush,
To hear the sea murmur and murr.

Straucht ower the water slade frae the mune
A glimmer o' cauld weet licht;
Ane o' her horns rase the water abune,
And lampit across the nicht.

Quhat's that, and that, far oot i' the gray,
The laich mune bobbin afore?
It's the bonny sea-maidens at their play-
Haud awa, king's son, frae the shore.

Ae rock stude up like an auld aik-root,
The king's son he steppit ahin';
The bonny sea-maidens cam gambolin oot,
Kaimin their hair to the win'.

O merry their lauch whan they fan the warm san',
For the lichtsome reel sae meet!
Ilk are flang her kaim frae her pearly ban',
And tuik til her pearly feet.

But are, wha's beauty was dream and spell,
Her kaim on the rock she cuist;
Her back was scarce turnt whan the munelicht shell
Was lyin i' the prince's breist!

The cluds grew grim as he watched their game,
Th' win' blew up an angry tune;
Ane efter are tuik up her kaim,
And seaward gaed dancin doon.

But are, wi' hair like the mune in a clud,
Was left by the rock her lane;
Wi' flittin ban's, like a priest's, she stude,
'Maist veiled in a rush o' rain.

She spied the prince, she sank at his feet,
And lay like a wreath o' snaw
Meltin awa i' the win' and weet
O' a wastin wastlin thaw.

He liftit her, trimlin wi' houp and dreid,
And hame wi' his prize he gaed,
And laid her doon, like a witherin weed,
Saft on a gowden bed.

A' that nicht, and a' day the neist,
She never liftit heid;
Quaiet lay the sea, and quaiet lay her breist,
And quaiet lay the kirkyard-deid.

But quhan at the gloamin a sea-breeze keen
Blew intil the glimsome room,
Like twa settin stars she opened her een,
And the sea-flooer began to bloom.

And she saw the prince kneelin at her bed,
And afore the mune was new,
Careless and cauld she was wooed and wed-
But a winsome wife she grew.

And a' gaed weel till their bairn was born,
And syne she cudna sleep;
She wud rise at midnicht, and wan'er till morn,
Hark-harkin the sough o' the deep.

Ae nicht whan the win' gaed ravin aboot,
And the winnocks war speckled wi' faem,
Frae room to room she strayt in and oot,
And she spied her pearly kaim.

She twined up her hair wi' eager ban's,
And in wi' the rainbow kaim!
She's oot, and she's aff ower the shinin san's
And awa til her moanin hame!

The prince he startit whaur he lay,
He waukit, and was himlane!
He soucht far intil the mornin gray,
But his bonny sea-wife was gane!

And ever and aye, i' the mirk or the mune,
Whan the win' blew saft frae the sea,
The sad shore up and the sad shore doon
By the lanely rock paced he.

But never again on the sands to play
Cam the maids o' the merry, cauld sea;
He heard them lauch far oot i' the bay,
But hert-alane gaed he.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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