About a life devoted to the love for Folklore, Mythology, Legends and.....Art

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tell me a story; The Selkie

The following story was presented to me as a ballad. Although I do not want to fill the entire book with ballads or poems I am glad to make an exception for this one as it is so true to the original story.
This ballad reflects the style of old, a ballad sung at the hearth. And thus this one is more then perfect for a folk-tale book, as you have to keep in mind; these stories were passed on as music and poems as well.

The ballad's writer; Kiera Tauro first heard of this story in the beautiful Irish film; the Secret of Roan Inish. Kiera herself is from Canada but her mother hails from Ireland and as she grew up with many a story from her mother's motherland the story of the Selkie was one to return now and then. Perhaps even more then the other tales this one was often on her mind. "I had wanted to try my hand at writing a version of the myth for ages," Kiera told me "and when I had to write a ballad for a creative writing class at school this was the first thing that came to mind". And thus she transcribed it into this ballad which I hope all of you will enjoy.

NOTE: would you also like to see your story get illustrated? please check out my previous blog post here and read the guidelines.

(Please, click picture for bigger and better view)

Story Title: The Selkie
Submitted by: Kiera Tauro
Country: Canada

Walking on an island, on a day both bright and clear
He spied a creature on the rocks and quickly wandered near.
The seal had not yet seen him and he saw it shed its skin
And like butterflies from the cocoon, a lady stood within.

The skin it lay abandoned like yesterday’s disguise,
And careful not to startle he stood and met her eyes –
As black as the ocean and as wild as the sea,
Full of wonder, like a curious child she gazed back at me.

A whisper brought him closer and a touch to her side
Their voices rose and fell, matching the pounding of the tide.
Conversation faded and love grew in its place,
She said “I must go,” with a smile upon her face.

“I will meet you on the morrow, but to the sea I must go.”
And skin in hand, the lady left for the water down below.
He came back every morning and she left him every night,
But soon he had an idea that would keep her in his sight.

Reluctant to consider it, but more to see her leave
The skin would be stolen, was the plan he would weave.
“For without the skin she could not go back to the sea,
And thus would be content to stay ashore with me.”

And so one day while she slept, her head against his chest
He slipped out from beneath her and stole it from her breast.
Carefully it was hidden and he was back afore she woke,
But soon her eyes had opened and softly she spoke:

“My skin you have stolen, and the sea that was my life,
I am damned to live on land, and this can only lead to strife.”
The days seemed to last forever, and she wandered as if lost,
But she vowed to find her skin, no matter what the cost.

Long she searched to no avail and soon she gave up hope,
For without the comfort of the waves she found she could not cope.
Little more than a shadow she sat above the tide,
Watching the place once called home as quietly she cried.

Her silence did not please him and he loved her less each day,
His beautiful wild selkie girl had begun to fade away.
Not a word was spoken but still she seemed to plead
For the skin long since taken, for his avarice to recede.

And though he loved her less, he refused to let her go,
For she was his and did not belong to the sea down below.
The seasons kept on changing, and all fondness seemed to fade,
When the lady heard a whisper coming from the glade,

The forest spirit had seen her and noticed her distress,
And knew that to make her smile, her skin she must possess.
So he had searched and he had found the skin that she had worn,
And presenting it to her, he saw that she did no longer mourn.

Eyes aglow, a whispered thanks, and quickly she did go,
As she often did in dreams, to the sea down below.
Never thinking to return and never looking back,
She slipped between the waves into water deep and black.

It wasn’t until she was gone that he finally he saw,
As wonderful as it had seemed, his plan possessed a flaw.
He had loved her because she was beautiful and because she was free,
But the only lover that she could know was the loveless sea.

More of Kiera's poems and photographs can be found on Deviant Art.
Also, you can read more about the Selkie here.


  1. When i was a young girl i had a book with stories and drawings about elves and faeries and magic and there also was the story of the selkie.
    What a beautiful poem Kiera wrote and your art is great as ever. :-)

  2. Thank you Monica!And indeed the poem is beautiful, isn't it? I am so glad she gave me permission to publish it.

  3. Beautiful poem, i am fascinated by selkies, i absolutely love your illustrations too. thank you for visiting my faerietale of inspiration blog x

  4. Your welcome and thank you for visiting my blog as well!