Oct 6, 2006

I Think I've Given The Wrong Impression

This post is for Girl, as we all might have predicted--can't post for one and not the other. But it's also to set the record straight: I am not some cynic who doesn't have any sense or appreciation of the marvelous. Okay, that's not true--I don't believe in much, but I do believe in fairies. Or shall we say, I wish I believed in fairies, which is almost as good.

And so, for Girl, a post about mermaids. On your left, the traditional mermaid, looking up dreamily at the legs of a swimmer, and wishing she could wear pretty shoes like that. But this is only one version of a humanlike undersea creature.

Stories about mermaids appeared as early as 1000 BCE, in Assyria (this isn't stuff I knew off the top of my head--I went on wikipedia), usually as sirens, who would sing sailors to their deaths. Modern mermaids kill themselves instead (but only in the sad version of the little mermaid, and Girl and I don't like that one).

There are also nereids, oceaneids (both Greek), naiads (who generally don't have tails, but are underwater fairies), and my favorite because I love Possession, melusines.

The melusina is a freshwater mermaid, and in legend she is sort of a combination of siren and Little Mermaid kind of mermaid. She does fall in love, she does marry, and like Daryl Hannah in Splash, she gets her tail back when she takes a bath. Unfortunately, she gets very crabby when her husband discovers her secret (well, she did ask for privacy--sheesh, can't a girl take a bath without being interrupted?) and turns into a dragon and flies around the castle before disappearing.

Or so A.S. Byatt tells it.

Incidentally, and again props to wikipedia, that woman in the Starbucks logo? It's a melusine. I feel much more friendly toward them now that I know that.

Also, I think it might be time for my yearly rereading of Possession. AndI think Girl and I will have to watch the rest of The Little Mermaid this evening. And possibly lie on the floor pretending to be mermaids. Or on second thoughts I think we'll actually pretend to be melusinas, so we can get up and walk around if we feel like it. And turn into dragons, which you know is always a swell time. Girl has an excellent roar.


Anonymous said...

Was the Melusine in one of the poems in Possession? I have forgotten.

Cordelia said...

"And is love then more

Than the kick galvanic

Or the thundering roar

Of Ash volcanic

Belched from some crater

Of earth-fire within?

Are we automata

Or Angel-kin?"

It was Christabel's epic...

Anonymous said...

Ah, I should read the poems. "Ash volcanic." Very nice play on words.