The legend of the mermaid includes everything from folk tales to the myths and poetry of modern times. The stories from Africa and the new world are really believed by people right now. I put the poems here because they are inspired by the old tales.
In the stories you can see the history of where the mermaid has been and what she became in different countries. She runs the gamut from meek and docile to confident and strong-willed. You will see the word "powerful" a lot in these stories. It is a holdover from the goddess the mermaid evolved from. You will also find the goddess' mirror, comb, long hair, beauty and medical knowledge!
As you read the European folk tales remember that originally these stories were told to amuse adults not children. Absolutely horrendous things occur in some of them. Also remember that at one time people really did believe in mermaids, fairies and all the rest. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies and he was an intelligent, well-educated man, as well as the creator of Sherlock Holmes.
The legend of the mermaid is not the same in China and Japan as it is in Europe. They tend to see the mermaid not as a personality but a part of nature, like a storm or an animal. The situation is different again in Guam because of the strong Spanish influence.The Hairy Mermaid, China
The Island of the Blessed, mermaids for dinner?
Sirena of Guam
Hanuman and the Mermaid, India and Cambodia
Where the legend of the mermaid comes alive!The Young Boy, from Nigeria
Yemaya, Yoruban water goddess and mother of...
Oshun, Yoruban fresh water goddess
Mami Wata, The African mermaid goddess
Mami Wata folk tales
The New WorldLasirenn, Haitian Voodoo mermaid
Iara, a Brazilian mermaid
The Mermaid of the Magdalenes, a Canadian mermaid tale
PoetryThe Mermaid by Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufroch by T. S. Eliot
Sabrina Fair by John Milton
A pair of poems by Walter De La Mare.