Monday, April 27, 2009

Mermaids, Sirens and Water Nymphs




SIRE′NES or SEIRE′NES (sirens) were mythical beings who were believed to have the power of enchanting and charming, by their song, any one who heard them. When Odysseus, in his wanderings through the Mediterranean, came near the island on the lovely beach of which the Sirens were sitting and trying to allure him and his companions, he, on the advice of Circe, stuffed the ears of his companions with wax, and tied himself to the mast of his vessel until he was so far off that he could no longer hear their song. According to Homer, the island of the Sirens was situated between Aeaea and the rock of Scylla, near the south-western coast of Italy.


Circus poster for underwater performers
the 'Sisters Wallenda'. 1895



Leagues, leagues over the sea I sail
Couched on a wallowing dolphin's tail.

The sky is on fire, the waves a-sheen,
I dabble my foot in the billows green.

In a sea-weed hat on the rocks I sit,
where tern and sea-mew glide and beat,
and where dark shadows the cormorants meet.

In caverns cool when the tide's a wash,
I sound my conch to the watery splash.

From out their grottos at evenings beam,
the mermaids swim with locks agleam.
Walter de le Mare



French risque postcard siren


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Lyres were dying in the harmonious air,
Languorous exhaltations came from the calyxes
And the swooning sailors felt the slow delight
Of velvet kisses settling on their eyes.
Albert Samain



'L'Eau des Sirenes'
Vintage poster for hair colourant
by Jules Cheret. 1899




O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister's flood of tears.
Sing, siren, for thyself, and I will dote;
Spread o'er the silver waves thy golden hairs,
And as a bed I'll take them and there lie,
And in that glorious supposition think
He gains by death that hath such means to die;
Let Love, being light, be drowned if she sink!
Shakespeare



'Mermaid'
a Vintage Venus Original





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