The Legend of
The legend of the mermaid includes everything from folk tales and myths to the 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 were 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 (who lived from 1859 to 1930) believed in fairies and he was an intelligent, well-educated man, as well as the creator of Sherlock Holmes.
The legend of the mermaid,
the arch-typical version
The City of the Merfolk,
a supposedly true account of a visit there
mermaid imparts healing advice
More mermaid medicine,
Celts and others believe mermaids possess medical knowledge
The Lady of the Fan Lake,
the fresh water version of the mermaid
The evil mermaid,
man's best friend to the rescue
The bold mermaid,
she knows what she wants
The Mermaid of Laane,
from Esthonia (the old name for Finland)
Germanic water spirits
The Water Snake,
a tale of love and murder from Russia
once the sister of Alexander the Great
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,
an odd mermaid from China
The Island of the Blessed,
mermaids for dinner?
Sirena of Guam, her mother made her a mermaid
Hanuman and the Mermaid, India and Cambodia
Where the legend of the mermaid comes alive!
The Young Boy,
Yoruban water goddess and mother of...
Yoruban fresh water goddess
Mami Wata, information on the African mermaid goddess
Mami Wata folk tales, some Mami Wata stories
The New World
Haitian Voodoo mermaid
a Brazilian mermaid
The Mermaid of the Magdalenes, a Canadian mermaid tale
The 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.