CLICK TO HEAR MELODY
THE
A Legend from the
Rhine River Valley
J.W. Waterhouse
I wish I knew the meaning,
A sadness has fallen on me.
The ghost of an ancient legend
That will not let me be.
The air is cool in the twilight
And gently flows the Rhine;
A mountain peak in the setting sun
Catches the faltering shine.

The highest peak still gleaming
Reveals enthroned in the air,
A Siren lost in her dreaming
Combing her golden hair.
With golden combs she caresses
Her hair as she sings her song;
Echoing through the gloaming
Filled with a magic so strong.

The boatman has heard, it has bound him
In throes of desire and love.
He's blind to the reefs that surround him,
He sees but the Maiden above.
And now the wild waters awaken
Then boat and the boatman are gone.
And this is what with her singing,
The Lorelei has done.
By Heinrich Heine (1798-1856)
written in 1823


Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
Daß ich so traurig bin,
Ein Märchen aus uralten Zeiten,
Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.
Die Luft ist kühl und es dunkelt,
Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;
Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt,
Im Abendsonnenschein.

Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
Dort oben wunderbar,
Ihr gold'nes Geschmeide blitzet,
Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar,
Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme,
Und singt ein Lied dabei;
Das hat eine wundersame,
Gewalt'ge Melodei.

Den Schiffer im kleinen Kahne,
Ergreift's mit wildem Weh;
Er sieht nicht die Felsenriffe,
Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh'.
Ich glaube die Wellen verschlingen
Am Ende noch Schiffer und Kahn,
Und das hat mit ihrem Singen,
Die Lorelei getan.
encyclopedia.com entry for Lorelei:
Pronounced as: lôrli, Ger. lorli, cliff, 433 ft (132 m) high, on the right bank of
the Rhine River, near St. Goarshausen, W. Germany, about midway between
Koblenz and Bingen. There the Rhine forms a dangerous narrow, and in
German legend a fairy similar to the Greek sirens lived on the rock and by
her singing lured the sailors to their death.  Heinrich Heine's poem,
Die
Lorelei
, is world famous. The rock has sometimes been identified as the
place where the hoard of the Nibelungs is hidden under the Rhine.
Heinrich Heine's poem was set to music
by Friedrich Silcher in 1838.  Click the
picture above to hear it.
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It's easy to see how ships could have trouble navigating
this stretch of the Rhine River, especially on a foggy
night.  The rock to the right is the Lorelei.
This is a photo I took, out of a moving car,
on a foggy day, in the Summer of 1983.
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