Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday Poem - John Donne

Mary McCallum left a comment on yesterday's Syrenka post that reminded me of a poem I'd written, oh, perhaps a decade ago. This set me off on a late night hunt. I'd hoped to find it and type it up here for today, but apparently the fish that's in it has discovered its fins and swum the poem into hiding. Never mind, it'll turn up. Meantime, staying with the mermaid theme (in itself, a totally unexpected little tributary) here is a poem from John Donne ---

Go and catch a falling starre
Get with child a mandrake's roote
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foote.
Teach me to hear the mermaid's singing;
Or to keep off envy's stinging.
And finde
What winde
Serves to advance an honest mind.

John Donne

Click here for more Tuesday poems.

In the late 1850s, a 1233 ton ship name Mermaid made many voyages between London & Auckland, Liverpool & Lyttleton (I stumbled on this passenger list on the NZ Yesteryears site).


  1. I surrender to Donne.

    Your for mermaids,

  2. I read the passenger list. A shout of 'William!' into the hold could have brought 23 running.

  3. Well, I love John Donne, as you know from my last week's post, and I have always loved that line "teach me to hear the mermaid's singing"

  4. Thanks Claire. I'll read it to Issy. Hadn't noticed the mention of 'envy' here on first reading - it converses nicely with Eileen Moeller's wonderful poem where envy is a dark wren on the end of a pen (or something like that). Do read. And thanks again for Donne (and all your lovely mermaids....)

  5. Hi Mim - I surrender to Donne, too! Love to you, C x

  6. Ah Pen! Whispers to Williams, then - as opposed to shouts? ; )

  7. HI Helen - you picked my favourite line, too. Anything that encourages attentive listening has to be good. Thanks for coming by. I'm off to catch up on this week's fix of Tuesday Poems. L, C

  8. Hi Mary - Issy might be as surprised as I was to find mermaid poems by Pablo Neruda, W. B Yeats, Tennyson, Keats (and countless more besides). There are lots of paintings, too - she might enjoy this site

    Oops - that's a long address!

    I, too, loved Eileen Moeller's poem. Her last line with the pen and the dark wren is breathtaking.