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The Merman

First printed in 1830.


Who would be A merman bold, Sitting alone, Singing alone Under the sea, With a crown of gold, On a throne?


I would be a merman bold; I would sit and sing the whole of the day; I would fill the sea-halls with a voice of power; But at night I would roam abroad and play With the mermaids in and out of the rocks, Dressing their hair with the white sea-flower; And holding them back by their flowing locks I would kiss them often under the sea, And kiss them again till they kiss'd me Laughingly, laughingly; And then we would wander away, away To the pale-green sea-groves straight and high, Chasing each other merrily.


There would be neither moon nor star; But the wave would make music above us afar-- Low thunder and light in the magic night-- Neither moon nor star. We would call aloud in the dreamy dells, Call to each other and whoop and cry All night, merrily, merrily; They would pelt me with starry spangles and shells, Laughing and clapping their hands between, All night, merrily, merrily: But I would throw to them back in mine Turkis and agate and almondine: [1] Then leaping out upon them unseen I would kiss them often under the sea, And kiss them again till they kiss'd me Laughingly, laughingly. Oh! what a happy life were mine Under the hollow-hung ocean green! Soft are the moss-beds under the sea; We would live merrily, merrily.

[Foootnote 1: Almondine. This should be "almandine," the word probably being a corruption of alabandina, a gem so called because found at Alabanda in Caria; it is a garnet of a violet or amethystine tint. 'Cf.' Browning, 'Fefine at the Fair', xv., "that string of mock-turquoise, these 'almandines' of glass".]

Lord Alfred Tennyson