The young fisherman was going out in his boat every evening and he was throwing his nets into the sea but he wasn’t catching nothing. 
One evening, he threw his nets and he waited a little after he pulled his nets but nets was very heavy. He laughed and said: “Perhaps I have caught all the fish in the sea! Or perhaps I have caught some strange and fearful thing which men will want to see and will pay money to see it.”
He pulled and pulled at last, nets came on the water but there were no fish in it. There was no strange or fearful thing only there was a Mermaid. She was sleeping. Her hair was like gold. Her body was silver and pearl. After She opened her eyes and she tried to escape but he held her.
So she said: “I am the daughter. He has only daughter. He has only me and he is very old and alone.”
So he answered: “I will not let you go unless you make a promise. Promise me that whenever. I call you, you will come and sing to me. The fish love to listen to the song of the People of the Sea; so They will came into my nets and my nets will be full.” And he left her.
The young fisherman was going out in his boat every evening. And he was calling to the Mermaid and she came up out of the water and sang to him. And after, she started to explain beatiful her kingdom.
One evening, he called to her: “Little Mermaid! I love you! Take me for your husband.” But Mermaid refused this and she said: “If you can send away your soul, I shall love you.”
The young fisherman accepted this. And he said: “I will send my soul away and you shall be my wife and you shall show me all the wonderful things which you sang about.” 
Mermaid laughed with pleasure and hid her face in her hands. But how shall he send his soul away.
He thinked, of he think of and he went to decide to priest’s house. He wish my soul send away but The Priest refused this. Because; The Priest said: “Soul is worth all the gold and jewels of the kings.” And The Priest went with him him near merchants but they said: soul isn’t worth a penny. So he went out of the city and came down to the sea-shore and began to think. 
At midday he remembered one of his friends who hat told him about a witch a woman who knew magic and right now he went her. He wish my soul send away. And he will give five pieces of gold, my nets, my house and my boat if his soul send away.
The Witch accepted this. And She said you must dance with me at sunset in some secret place when moon is full.
She wish he go tonight and stant near the tree on the top of the mountain and wait for me. And he climbed to the top of the mountain and he began to wait. After The witch came . They began to dance after The witch was going when he held her arm. And he said: “If you don’t keep your promise I shall kill you.” And he left her arm. After, he took the knife. Then he went tothe edge of the mountain and began to go down. 
His soul within him called out to him: “I have lived with you for all these years and have been your servant. Don’t send me away from you now! What wrong have I done to you.”
The young fisherman laughed and said: You have done me no wrong but I have no need of you. Go wherever you wish, but don’t trouble me, form y love is calling me. After the fisherman stood on the sang with his back to the moon. And he took the little knife out of its case of snae-sin and cut away the shadow from his feet. After rose up and stood in front of him. The fisherman drew back and put away the knife. He was afraid. “Go” he said. “And don’t let me see your face again and he jumped into the sea and the little Mermaid came to meet him. After it went away weeping.
After one year, the soul came down to the sea-share and called to the young fisherman and he came out of the sea and said: “Why do you call to me.” 
The soul answered: Come nearer so that I may speak to you for I have seen wonderful things. So the fisherman come near and listened. 
The soul said to him: “When I left you I travelled to the East. From the East comes every thing that is wise; from the East comes all wisdom. I came to the garden of its god. Priests dressed in yellow moved silently among the garden trees. In the garden there was a rose-red house in which the good lived. After I went into the house but there was no god

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This classic mermaid story was written as a reaction to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid". In Andersen's mermaid story the mermaid longs for a soul, here a fisherman longs to rid himself of his soul for the love of a mermaid. Andersen's mermaid story is strongly Christian in it's outlook and philosophy, Wilde's is delightfully pagan.

Here is a brief synopsis:

A young fisherman fell in love with a mermaid and wanted to join her in her land beneath the sea. The mermaid told him he could not be with her because he had a soul and she did not. The fisherman swore to get rid of his soul for the mermaid's love.
He visited a young witch who lived in the mountains. She gave him a magic knife and told him to stand with the moon behind him and use it to cut the soul from his feet. She said, "The shadow of the body is the body of the soul."

As the fisherman cut the soul from his feet the soul begged him not to separate them. When the fisherman refused the soul asked that he also cut out his heart and give it to the soul. "With what should I love my love if I gave thee my heart? " the fisherman asked. When he was free from his soul the fisherman left to join his mermaid under the sea. The soul, before he departed, told the fisherman that he would return after a year and call to him.

The soul returned the next year and the year after that. Each time he offered the fisherman some marvelous treasure he had found in exchange for joining with him again. Each time the fisherman told him "love is greater." The third year the soul offered to take the fisherman to a maiden who danced beautifully with naked feet. The fisherman remembered that the mermaid had no feet and could not dance. He agreed to join again with his soul provided that he could return within a day to his little mermaid.

The soul, however, had tricked the fisherman. There was no dancing girl with naked feet. The fisherman, when he realized this, tried to cut his soul from his feet with the magic knife but it did not work. The soul said that a man may separate his body from his soul only once in his life, never twice. The soul had rejoined the body of the fisherman, but he could not enter his heart because it was too full of love for the mermaid.

The fisherman mourned his lost mermaid for years. One day her dead body washed up on the shore, and the tritons of the sea came to kill the fisherman for deserting her. Just before he died his heart broke and the soul entered it. Finally, they were truly one.


The entire mermaid story can be read at the Classic Reader website. I strongly recommend that you do since the story is full of so many beautiful things that I cannot include here.


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