The little mermaid 1

Ursula (Karen L. Robu) persuades Ariel (Desi Oakley) to give up her voice for legs


Ariel (Sierra Boggess) surrenders her voice to Ursula (Sherie Rene Scott)

"Poor Unfortunate Souls" is a song from the Walt Disney Pictures animated film The Little Mermaid. Written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken and performed by Pat Carroll, it is sung to Ariel by Ursula. In a style that combines Broadway Theatre with Burlesque, Ursula uses it to seduce Ariel into trading her voice for the chance to temporarily become human and be with Prince Eric.


[URSULA, spoken]
My dear, sweet child--it's what I live for: to help unfortunate merfolk like yourself.
Poor souls with no one else to turn to. . .

I admit that in the past I've been a nasty
They weren't kidding when they called me, well, a witch
But you'll find that nowadays
I've mended all my ways
Repented, seen the light, and made a switch
True? Yes.

And I fortunately know a little magic
It's a talent that I always have possessed
And here lately, please don't laugh
I use it on behalf
Of the miserable, the lonely, and depressed

Poor unfortunate souls
In pain, in need
This one longing to be thinner
That one wants to get the girl
And do I help them?
Yes, indeed!

Those poor unfortunate souls
So sad, so true
They come flocking to my cauldron
Crying, "Spells, Ursula, please!"
And I help them
Yes I do!

Now, it's happened once or twice
Someone couldn't pay the price
And I'm afraid I had to rake 'em 'cross the coals
Yes, I've had the odd complaint
But on the whole I've been a saint
To those poor unfortunate souls

[URSULA, spoken]
Here's my best offer, babykins. I know a spell that will turn you into a human for three days. Now, it's got a procedural clause, sort of a "squid pro quo." Before the sun sets on the third day, you've got to get dear ol' princey to kiss you. If you do, you'll stay human forever.

[ARIEL, spoken]
And if I don't?

[URSULA, spoken]
Nothing drastic, darling, I'm sure. . . Oh, look--small print: "Your soul is mine forever, and you're doomed to spend eternity in my watery, hell-soaked lair." Lawyers! Don't you just love 'em? Of course, there is one more thing. . . my fee.

[ARIEL, spoken]
But I don't have anything!

[URSULA, spoken]
I'm not askin' for much, Only. . . your voice.

[ARIEL, spoken]
My voice? But if I give away my voice, how can I ever--

You'll have your looks. . . your pretty face. . . and don't underestimate the power of body language!

The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yet on land it's much preferred for ladies not to say a word
And after all, dear, what is idle prattle for?

Come on, they're not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who's withdrawn
It's she who holds her tongue who gets a man

Come on you poor unfortunate soul
Go ahead!
Make your choice!
I'm a very busy woman
And I haven't got all day
It won't cost much
Just your voice!

You poor unfortunate soul
It's sad, but true
If you want to cross the bridge, my sweet
You've got the pay the toll
Take a gulp and take a breath
Go ahead and sign the scroll!
Flotsam, Jetsam--now I've got her, boys
The boss is on a roll
You poor unfortunate soul!

Beluga, sevruga, come winds of the Caspian Sea. . .
Larynxes, glaucitis, ad max laryngitis, la voce to me!

Now, sing! Sing your voice over to me!

Ah-ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah-ah...

Sing and keep singing!

. . .ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah-ah....

Now swim, swim, swim! Swim for your life, human child!
Ha ha ha. . .


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The reprise was sung by Ursula to King Triton to force him into taking Ariel's place in the agreement.



"Brother darling! You're right on cue."

"Give Ariel back to me!"

"Not on your life!"

It so happens that your daughter signed a contract,


Even drew a little heart above the "i"
Is it binding? Goodness, yes!
Unbreakable, unless...


"There is a little somethin' we could try."

"Go on."

Perhaps we can arrange a sort of tradeoff,


Maybe swap your daughter's soul for, say, your own
Sign the scroll and set her free
Or else she comes with me
To suffer through eternity alone...

"The mute little hatchling, drowning in her own sorrow, with no voice left to cry out your name... Well? I'm waiting."

"It's not my soul you're after-it's my power."

"Which would you rather be?"
"The King of the Sea... or a father to his little girl?"
"Finally! The oceans belong to me!"

And now you poor unfortunate soul!
Time's up! You're through!
Now the power of Poseidon
Has been once again made whole
All the magic of the trident
And the shell in my control!
And now dark shall reign forever
Over ocean, sea and shoal!

Now see for yourselves how banishment feels!

You poor unfortunate soul!