The (Rhyming) Little Mermaid
Joshua David Ling
Hans Christian Andersen
lm1 - Tales of Manfolk
Once underneath the Mediterranean Sea,
There lived many people like you and me.
But they were also unlike us too,
These people who lived in the waters blue.
They were merfolk, with long fishy tails,
That had rainbow hues on their metallic scales,
And they danced as they swam, like ballerinas.
But this story is about one mermaid named Serena.
Serena was the youngest princess of The Sea King.
And all in the kingdom loved to hear her sing.
But she didn't prefer shows in which she starred,
She preferred the stories of The Sea Bard.
Phineas The Sea Bard sat upon a rock,
And all the young merfolk to him did flock.
But Serena was led up to the front of the school,
And made to sit down on her coral stool.
Phineas: "Are we all ready?" Phineas chimed,
"For today's story is most divine.
Serena? Are you ready to hear
About the Manfolk who live near to here?"
Serena leaped from her stool and twirled,
As did the mer-fingerlings, both boys and girls.
When they had calmed, Phineas began,
Lowering his tone and pointing to land.
Phineas: "Up there, there lives many a man.
The crowning achievement of Creator's plan.
And perhaps when you're old enough, You too will see,
What marvelous wonders live above the sea.
For manfolk live 100 years and are-
Taken up to heaven, to the shining stars,
While we live 300, and then turn to sea foam.
Merfolk have life, but Manfolk have a home."
Then The Sea Bard told a fantastic tale
Of men who over the waters did sail.
How they battled sea monsters and won the fight,
But Serena waited for a question invite.
Phineas: "Are there any questions about our story today?"
Serena's hand shot up,
Phineas: "Serena, what do you have to say?"
Serena: "Is it true that when we go up to the outside,
We should be very careful to hide,
For if they see us, we will cause them danger?
I do not want to harm a manfolk stranger!"
Phineas: "When manfolk see merfolk, it creates something bad
That is called a storm, it makes them go mad.
The fear that grips them exists,
because they could die,
If dragged into the sea, my little fry."
Serena: "They can never come down and live with us?"
Phineas: "I fear not, young one. Not without great cost.
Manfolk cannot breathe underwater like we
Who swim out in the open sea.
If the go in too deep, or stay in too long,
They will drown just as surely, as the rising of the dawn."
Serena: "I want to see them!"
Phineas: "And in time you will.
And I'm sure one day that'll be quite a thrill.
But for now dear Serena, go out and play.
You will see manfolk on your 16th Birthday."
lm2 - Witnessing Manfolk
When Serena turned 16,
She swam as fast as she could
Up to the surface to see the Manfolk,
That they might be understood.
And when her head broke through the surface
What do you think she saw?
A vessel floating on the surface,
As long as a sea monster was tall!
She marveled at its colored masts of purple and of gold.
And the little school of white things that floated around the vessel, bold.
They shrieked and called discordant songs
As they scavenged for a meal,
Serena then thought to herself: 'How can this all be real?'
She swam a fair bit closer,
Keeping out of sight.
She didn't want to stir up a storm,
Or cause the Manfolk fright.
And as she did she heard a voice,
Cutting through the waves,
It was the sound of a man-bard,
And he was heaping out praise.
Man-Bard: "Prince Silas drew closer to the burning building,
As it swayed and almost collapsed.
He heard the screams of the Little ones,
Trapped inside the black.
He pushed through the smoke,
The flame and the heat,
And braved it all despite,
Knowing he might die any moment,
Yet he didn't lose the fight.
He saved five children.
All the ones who were trapped there in that house,
Selflessly braving the fire of Hephaestus,
And the danger all about.
And it is my pleasure to present to you,
Before you all have fits,
The heroic Prince of our country,
The Honorable Prince Silas!"
The people clapped and The Prince stepped out.
Serena was amazed.
Hearing stories of the Man's bravery,
Made it hard to move her gaze.
The people sang a simple song,
And Serena joined right in.
She wished she hadn't soon after,
As the air began to spin.
Water-spouts, whirlpools, maelstroms, rain, and more.
Lightning raged, thunder roared,
And the Manfolk were shook to the core.
They all scrambled fast to steady their ship,
Before they were overcome.
But Prince Silas was swept from the deck,
And Serena's tail went numb.
She dove below the ship straight to
The Prince's floating form,
And she held him just above the water
In the ever increasing storm.
Her tail screamed in pain and effort
As she pushed the extra weight,
But she had to save this one who'd saved lives,
No mind to the pain that was great.
She dragged and dragged with all her might,
Until she reached dry land.
Her skin and scales cried out on contact,
With the still hot sand.
She beached herself for a moment,
And stared down at his face.
His eyes began to stutter open,
And she left without a trace.
She swam back down to the sea below,
Wishing she could stay above.
She wondered at the feelings she felt.
Could this all be...
lm3 - Captivated
And so the days went on and on.
Every other, Serena surfaced.
Trying to catch a glimpse of Prince Silas.
Her curiosity she serviced.
She learned many things
About Manfolk and land.
And she praised Creator for-
The amazing work of his hands.
But after many days of this,
Her heart began to sink.
Imagining the riches inside their buildings,
Food, and the songs they must sing.
But above all these things,
She longed for but two.
The glory of Heaven,
And for Prince Silas too.
This longing slowly grew into captivation.
Yet, out did not stop there.
She had to do something to live with them all.
Her obsession became to breathe air.
And so she confided in the only one,
She believed would understand.
Phineas The Sea Bard,
Who told her of Manfolk,
And the treasures of the land.
She approached him at night,
Before he went to sleep,
Phineas opened his door,
Phineas: "Your highness,
What brings you this deep?"
Serena tried her best to explain,
But she quickly began to weep.
Phineas guessed the rest of her tale,
With one logical leap.
He took her into his simple cave home,
And sat her on his couch.
Phineas: "That's alright, Serena.
Get your tears all out."
When Serena regained her composure,
Phineas stood and spoke.
Phineas: "I must know how serious you are.
This must not be a joke."
Serena: "Creator calls me to the surface.
Of that I am convinced."
Phineas' voice grew grave and low.
Phineas: "I must not be involved.
I will tell you a way this all may happen,
Because I trust your longing eyes.
But no one may know I told you this way.
I must remain disguised."
Serena solemnly nodded her head,
And swore to secrecy.
Then the sea-bard drew near to her ear,
And whispered: "Sorcery."
lm4 - The Sea Witch
Phineas gave Serena good directions
To that lowly part of the sea.
The desolate seascape all around her
Made her want to hide or flea.
She'd never seen the sea so empty,
So dark, with so little life.
But she promised herself she would brave this.
And if necessary she'd fight.
But she was thankful she didn't have to,
As finally approached the place,
Where she would hopefully, finally, become a woman,
And taste of Creator's grace.
The sunken ship lay there,
Just as Phineas had said.
The silt-crusted vessel was massive in size.
And the bones of Manfolk lay dead,
All around and inside the ship,
It was very much a place of death.
Serena thought about turning back,
But then she thought of having breath.
She pushed onward into the ship,
And found the Sorceress in a small room.
The sorceress looked strange to Serena.
Petite, with depressed eyes from gloom.
She was an old hag with wrinkly skin,
And Serena could only guess what was within
The cloth covering over The Sea-Witch's lower half,
Though she didn't swim...
Sea-Witch: "What do you want, pathetic being?
My house is not open to you."
Serena: "If you please, Sorceress, I've come to-"
Sea-Witch: "Get a Clue!
I know exactly why you came!
And my answer is: 'Why should I?'
Just take your 300 years, little one. 300 years, then die!"
Serena almost left right there.
The Sea-Witch was so cruel.
But Phineas told her she'd have to insist.
Serena: "Do you take me for a fool?
I've made my decision.
I am not lost!
I will do this at whatever cost!"
The Sea-Witch grew agitated,
And slammed a fist on her table.
Sea-Witch: "What do you have to offer me?!
How are you able to pay your debt to me,
You poor miserable wretch?!"
Serena: "I can bring you riches from
My royal treasure chest."
Sea-Witch: "Bah!" Said the witch.
"Riches are worth nothing!"
Serena: "Please, I'm not sure.
Can you help me think of something?"
The Sea-Witch exhaled
With an annoyed tone.
Not quite a sigh,
Not quite a groan.
Sea-Witch: "Do you have any talents?"
Serena: "Yes. I have a few."
Sea-Witch: "Good. Now tell me.
Exactly what do you do?"
Serena: "I can sing."
The Sea-Witch snapped.
Sea-Witch: "Show me!"
And Serena sang a sing of the sea.
But before she got far, the witch bid her to stop.
Sea-Witch: "It isn't bad.
But it's not worth a lot."
Serena bowed her head
And the witch cocked hers.
Sea-Witch: "You swim gracefully.
Perhaps both can incur
The cost of this transaction?
With these will you part?
Your voice and your grace?"
Serena: "With all my heart."
The witch snapped into action
Before Serena could have known it.
With one hand she grabbed Serena's mouth,
With the other, Serena's tongue, and pulled it.
She released her grip on the cheeks and then,
Brought a knife through the tongue with a swipe.
Pain tore through Serena's body,
And she stumbled back in fright.
The old Sea-Witch laughed as blood colored the water.
Sea-Witch: "Here are the rules,
My little daughter!
1. You may never sing or speak again!
Obvious by what I just did.
2. Your grace will live on.
But invisible needles will dig,
Into the flesh and bones of your feet,
So to walk is beyond masochism.
These are both the price
For changing an organism.
3. And very last of all,
You will still turn to foam,
If you do not find true love,
Heaven will not be your home!
And if into true love, you do fall,
And your love rejects you,
Then that is all.
You will die shortly after,
And the foam of the sea,
Will have a few more bubbles to flow aimlessly."
The witch twirled around, and Serena saw,
Legs of Manfolk,
Under the witch's shawl.
Serena's eyes went dark,
As terror gripped her heart,
Was this now the end?
Or just the very start?
lm5 - Adrift
In came the air into newly formed lungs.
Back it went out in a blast.
Serena opened her eyes and saw new legs,
She was absolutely aghast!
She felt them with her old hands
And found Smoothness like her skin.
No longer scales and fishy tails.
No longer rainbow fins.
She touched the bottom of her feet,
And then screamed out in pain.
The needle feeling the witch had told her of-
Had quite a powerful sting.
Then she heard a voice as clear as glass,
Calling out: "Miss! Miss!"
She looked and saw Prince Silas (and two guards) riding toward her,
And everything was bliss.
He dismounted immediately and came to her side.
Silas: "Miss, are you alright?"
She opened her mouth to speak to him,
But her mouth would not comply.
He looked in her mouth and saw the blood,
Coating the inside.
Silas: "She must have been attacked by pirates,
And left at sea to die.
God saw fit to save this one.
Whatever she needs, comply."
The lifted her onto the Prince's land-horse.
(Very different from horses at sea.)
And the rode her back to the Prince's palace.
What joy Serena had to be free!
lm6 - A True Friend
And so the wheel of time turned round
In Serena's simple life.
The people of the palace took care of her.
With kindness they were rife.
But nothing compared to her best friend Silas,
The Prince with kindness divine.
He spent a majority of his time with her,
And their friendship continued to entwine.
"This is a strange new world I'm trying to know.
But I've got to give up and go with the flow.
I'm not swimming in the ocean now.
I want to love you even if I don't know how."
Inseparable was the word for them,
No matter where they were at.
Hunting, dancing, going on picnics,
Or just sitting down for a chat.
Silas and Serena discovered the world,
Adventuring onward together.
And even though Serena was dumb and speechless,
In his company she felt he was clever.
"This is a strange new world I'm trying to know.
But I've got to give up and go with the flow.
I'm not swimming in the ocean at all.
With you I'm big even when I'm small."
Serena learned of Creator with Silas,
And how He dealt with men.
Every Sunday they attended Church,
And though Serena couldn't say "amen.",
She absorbed the teaching taught to her,
And loved the stories of his love.
Even if she could not sing out his praises,
In her heart, she praised God above.
"This is a strange new world I'm trying to know.
But I've got to give up and go with the flow.
I'll never swim in the ocean again
I'm no longer a mermaid. I am a woman."
lm7 - The Duty of a Prince
One evening in the palace,
While rain poured down outside,
Silas found Serena in the kitchen,
So he pulled her aside.
Into a side room he took her,
Where they could speak privately.
Silas: "How are you my mute miss?
Are you wandering idly?"
Serena smiled and shook her head,
And he could tell she was listening.
Her eyes did not wander as sometimes they did,
And her eyes were glistening.
Silas: "I have news for you, of great importance,
I am soon to be wed."
Serena's smiling, glistening eyes,
Looked like they were suddenly dead.
She sat on a couch, and Silas sat too,
He tried to regain her gaze.
Silas: "I am unenthused by this revelation.
Though it may be just a phase.
Father says I am to marry-
The Galatian Princess named Demi.
I know nothing of what she is really like.
I simply want to be free."
Serena stared out over the ocean,
Through the window and pouring rain.
Silas never knew what she was thinking,
Though he could see she was in pain.
He held her hand and looked with her,
Over the water's waves.
Silas: "I know how upsetting this is.
To not know where I'll be,
I'm every bit as upset too
To have everything planned out for me.
If I was to pick my own wife,
She'd be a lot like you,
My sweet, silent, sister,
Thank you for all that you do."
Serena hugged him forcefully,
And said a prayer for him.
Hoping Creator would make him happy,
Though everything looked grim.
He hugged her back and they sat together,
Without another word.
And as tears filled Serena's eyes,
Her vision of her world blurred.
lm8 - The Princess of Galatia
A few weeks later, Silas-
Hosted a special ball,
Welcoming the Princess Demi,
To his palace's ivory halls.
She'd arrive about an hour
Into the party's festivities,
Serena tugged on Silas,
And she didn't have to save please.
She took him to the dance floor
And though the pain was great,
The joy of dancing with her best friend
Made her stand up straight,
And though the sting of her curse
Pierced deeply into her soles,
She smiled as broadly as she was able.
Nothing could crush her soul.
Silas: "I'm nervous." He said as they danced around,
"She'll be here very soon."
Then his eyes caught the gleam of her smile.
From the vibrant light of the moon.
He gulped and drew strength from her courage.
And she curtsied at the end of the dance.
The horns blew signaling the Princess's arrival,
He looked, and was entranced.
Her dark eyes laid in seas of milk white.
Her pale skin shined in the moonlight.
Her Raven-Black hair glistened darker than the night.
And her bright red dress, was more than a sight.
She glided down steps with her entourage.
Shining like a dazzling jewel.
And she rivaled Silas's nervousness.
Their expressions, a timid duel.
All were quiet in the hall.
Then music began to play.
She curtsied, and Prince Silas bowed,
And Serena left to pray.
Off to the banks of the water she went,
Her feet screaming in her shoes.
She collapsed down at the water's edge,
And begged God to see her through.
If Silas married this Princess divine,
She'd turn into foam of the sea.
But was not jealous of the Princess, no.
She hoped the best for Princess Demi.
Over and over in sync with the waves,
Serena prayed this simple prayer.
Serena: "Wherever you'd have me go to, God,
Please, gently lead me there."
lm9 - In The Garden
After Silas and Demi danced,
They retired to the royal garden.
The guards surrounded the ivy-ed gates
And their hearts did the opposite of harden.
They were now alone and could speak-
All that was on their mind.
No one could judge their manner of speech,
They could be casual, and they could be kind.
They spoke together for three hours
About whatever things they prized.
And here is a portion of that conversation,
Near when they first arrived.
Silas: "Since I heard you were coming to court,
I've had nothing but constant fear.
But that all disappeared when I saw you,
And I'm excited now that you're here."
Demi smiled and blushed,
As she sat there on a seat.
He took her hands into his,
And she smiled at his eyes so sweet.
Demi: "I was worried until I heard tales,
Of how brave and bold you were.
And ever since I saw your face,
My heart is in an uproar."
Silas: "I thought that you would be prim and proper.
And fragile like a lilly.
I thought you'd be uninterested in things,
And wear things pink and frilly."
Demi laughed and he smiled back,
They both had more to say.
But they both agreed they should be married.
And they'd get married this day.
A few more hours of private talk,
Would seal up any doubts.
And when they left that garden there,
They'd let their secret out.
lm10 - Heart Shatter
All the crowd had gathered 'round,
For the re-introduction of the Prince,
And the re-introduction of the Princess of Galatia,
Together, they were a great presence.
They ascended to the royal dais,
To stand with the Queen and King.
Silas whispered in his father's ear,
Then turned and let his heart sing.
Silas: "The Princess and I will be getting married!
As soon as we are able!"
A collective reaction ran through the crowd,
Wild, and unstable.
But nothing came from the throat of Serena.
Not a cry came over her damaged tongue.
She simply stared, accepting the fact,
That the Sea Witch had now won.
She barely heard the voice of the King,
Who called for his servants to prepare,
A wedding ceremony for his son,
That they would have then and there.
In the meantime, the band was to play some dances,
For the crowd to enjoy.
Serena ran with her agony-ridden feet,
And on her face, she faked joy.
"This is not Silas' fault."
She told herself in her thought.
"I cannot share how this has hurt me.
I cannot and will not!
If I am to die this very night,
By the Sea Witch's trance,
Then I will press on in defiance!
And have myself one last dance!"
She stood and curtsied before Silas,
Huffing with exhaustion and pain.
But she glued a smile to her face,
And hid all her suffering and strain.
Silas: "You are happy for me! Thank you so much!
Oh, you'd like to dance?"
Serena nodded enthusiastically,
This was her final chance,
To bid farewell to her beloved prince.
She felt the curse pressing down.
Soon she would turn to sea foam,
And in those waves, she would drown.
But nothing could stop her from having this time,
She danced a waltz with all might.
Even though she bled through her toes of her shoes,
She bore it for Silas that night.
And even though the pain in her feet was awful,
In that moment, it was sublime.
As she stared into Silas' beautiful, bright, eyes.
For what would be the very last time.
The dance ended far quicker than she would have asked.
But she thanked him with a tight hug.
Then she let him go to dance with others,
And left the floor with a shrug.
She wandered out onto the docks,
And then onto the stern of a ship.
She stared down at the water below,
And tried to take comfort in it.
Her pain would now soon be over.
But then something strange came below.
Out of the water, 8 heads appeared,
And they stared at her, sad and slow.
It took Serena a moment,
To recognize them in moonlight.
Her 8 older sisters came to the surface,
To visit her this night.
But strangely none seemed to have their hair.
It all had been shaved off in mourning,
For their long lost little sister?
Or maybe as a warning?
The oldest one was named Fortuna.
And she was the first to speak.
Fortuna: "Oh, Serena, We know your pain.
We know what made you weak.
The seductions of this cruel surface,
Drew you to the Sea-Witch.
But we have shaved our heads for her,
So that you may do this-"
The other sisters whispered their approval,
As Fortuna produced a knife.
Black as ink, but shining as glass,
It glittered in the moonlight.
Serena's eyes grew wide as she stared,
At what her sisters had done.
Fortuna: "Take this knife, and kill your love.
Before the rising of the sun.
And if you do, you'll turn back into a mermaid,
And have your 283 years you'll have won.
Your tongue and all you had will be back,
Restored to perfect health,
And you can come back, live with Father, and us,
In the seaweed, and the kelp.
Serena reached down and took the knife,
And nodded to bid them farewell,
They all individually, said goodbye to Serena,
Then left Serena to the spell...
Serena stared at the knife for a moment,
As she felt her body break.
She looked at her hands, and saw foam forming,
On her fingers, and she quaked.
But as long as she held that knife in her hands,
She knew she had a chance.
But nothing would make her shed Silas' blood.
Not even a Sea-Witch's trance.
She held onto the knife, stepped up on the railing,
And looked down at the sea.
Blood dripped from the toes of her shoes,
As she realized, this'd be the last thing she'd see.
She stabbed that knife into the railing,
She'd never felt this alone.
She plunged into the salty depths,
And before she touched water, she was foam...
lm11 - That Was Not The End...
Though she ceased to exist on Earth,
And her body turned to spume,
Serena woke up in a strange, white place,
In what looked like her own little room.
She got up, and tenderly tested her feet,
Which to her surprise did not sting.
Then she grew brave, and tested her mouth,
She had a tongue, and could sing!
Yet she stayed quietly dumbfounded,
And walked right out of her room.
And as she did, she heard a voice,
That scared away all her gloom.
Voice: "Come here to me, My little child.
You've suffered much, I know.
But you have sought, and you have found me,
All your sins are washed white as snow."
She saw Creator with her own eyes,
Beckoning her into a hug.
Her eyes did not cry, But her smile did not lie,
As she sang to him like a dove.
Her voice was now more beautiful than ever,
In Creator's warm embrace,
And Serena forever sang the praise,
Of Creator's Amazing Grace.
And so, the smallest, Most wretched creature,
In all the world may be,
A child of God if their hope is in him,
And not in the things of the sea.
Or even in the things of the land,
Though enticing they might be,
The Little Mermaid was finally home.
And Serena was finally free.
Thank you for reading this issue of Rhyme and Space.
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