**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Mermaid Of Margate
by [?]

“Alas! what perils do environ
That man who meddles with a siren!”–Hudibrus.

[Note: The Mermaid of Margate: Charles Lamb had been reading these verses when he wrote to his friend Dibdin, in June, 1896, and called him “Peter Fin Junior.”]

On Margate beach, where the sick one roams,
And the sentimental reads;
Where the maiden flirts, and the widow comes
Like the ocean–to cast her weeds;–

Where urchins wander to pick up shells,
And the Cit to spy at the ships,–
Like the water gala at Sadler’s Wells,–
And the Chandler for watery dips;–

There’s a maiden sits by the ocean brim,
As lovely and fair as sin!
But woe, deep water and woe to him,
That she snareth like Peter Fin!

Her head is crowned with pretty sea-wares,
And her locks are golden loose,
And seek to her feet, like other folks’ heirs,
To stand, of course, in her shoes!

And all day long she combeth them well,
With a sea-shark’s prickly jaw;
And her mouth is just like a rose-lipped shell,
The fairest that man e’er saw!

And the Fishmonger, humble as love may be
Hath planted his seat by her side;
“Good even, fair maid! Is thy lover at sea,
To make thee so watch the tide?”

She turned about with her pearly brows,
And clasped him by the hand;
“Come, love, with me; I’ve a bonny house
On the golden Goodwin sand.”

And then she gave him a siren kiss,
No honeycomb e’er was sweeter;
Poor wretch! how little he dreamt for this
That Peter should be salt-Peter:

And away with her prize to the wave she leapt,
Not walking, as damsels do,
With toe and heel, as she ought to have stept,
But she hopped like a Kangaroo;

One plunge, and then the victim was blind,
Whilst they galloped across the tide;
At last, on the bank he waked in his mind,
And the Beauty was by his side

One half on the sand, and half in the sea,
But his hair began to stiffen;
For when he looked where her feet should be,
She had no more feet than Miss Biffen!

But a scaly tail, of a dolphin’s growth,
In the dabbling brine did soak:
At last she opened her pearly mouth,
Like an oyster, and thus she spoke:

“You crimpt my father, who was a skate,–
And my sister you sold–a maid;
So here remain for a fish’ry fate,
For lost you are, and betrayed!”

And away she went, with a sea-gull’s scream,
And a splash of her saucy tail;
In a moment he lost the silvery gleam
That shone on her splended mail!

The sun went down with a blood-red flame,
And the sky grew cloudy and black,
And the tumbling billows like leap-frog came,
Each over the other’s back!

Ah me! it had been a beautiful scene,
With the safe terra-firma round;
But the green water-hillocks all seem’d to him
Like those in a churchyard ground;

And Christians love in the turf to lie,
Not in watery graves to be;
Nay, the very fishes will sooner die
On the land than in the sea.

And whilst he stood, the watery strife
Encroached on every hand,
And the ground decreased,–his moments of life
Seemed measured, like Time’s, by sand;

And still the waters foamed in, like ale,
In front, and on either flank,
He knew that Goodwin and Co. must fail,
There was such a run on the bank.

A little more, and a little more,
The surges came tumbling in,
He sang the evening hymn twice o’er,
And thought of every sin!