SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: A MERMAID POEM

Waterhouse, John William, 1849-1917; A Mermaid


A MAN YOUNG AND OLD:- THE MERMAID
By William Butler Yeats

A mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him for her own,
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.



(Today’s poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here today accordingly.)


William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet, dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, serving as its chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” He was the first Irishman so honored. Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers whose greatest works were completed after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929). (Annotated biography of William Butler Yeats courtesy of Wikipedia, with edits.)

Editor’s Note: In honor of Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade, happening today in New York, and dedicated to all the mermaids, real and imagined.

Want to read more mermaid poetry?
The Backyard Mermaid
The Objectified Mermaid
Mermaid Song

About Sivan Butler-Rotholz

Sivan is the Contributing Editor of the Saturday Poetry Series on As It Ought To Be and holds an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is a professor, writer, editor, comic artist, and attorney emerita. She is also the founder of Reviving Herstory. Sivan welcomes feedback, poetry submissions, and solicitations of her writing via email at sivan.sf [at] gmail [dot] com.
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3 Responses to SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: A MERMAID POEM

  1. Maya Elashi says:

    ‘~~~even lovers drown.’

  2. Hooray for mermaid poems! I am a teensy bit obsessed. Neruda has a good one too.

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