The Lorelei
by Heinrich Heine

I cannot tell why this imagined
Sorrow has fallen on me
The ghost of an unburied legend
That will not let me be.

The air is cool, and twilight
Flows from the quiet Rhine;
A mountain alone in the high light
Catches the faltering shire

One rosy peak half gleaming
Reveals, enthroned in air,
A goddess lost in dreaming
Who combs her golden hair.

With a golden comb she is combing
Her hair as she sings a song;
Heard and reheard in the gloaming
It hurries the night along.

The boatman has heard what has bound him
In throes of a strange, wild love.
He is blind to the reefs that surround him,
Who sees but the vision above.

And lo, the wild waters are springing -
The boat and the boatman are gone...
Then silence. And this with her singing,
The Lorelei has done.


I don't know much about German folklore, so I can't tell you anything about the Lorelei. But she seems to be a siren, no? You know, those beautiful, mysterious women who have nothing to do all day except to lure unsuspecting seamen to their death? :) In Ancient Greece, they're sea nymphs who hang around rocks waiting for aforesaid unsuspecting seamen to come by, such as the hero Odysseus who tied himself to the mast of his ship in order not to be tempted by their song. My memory gets hazy at this point, but wasn't he like the only one who had heard the siren song and lived to talk about it? I think the sirens dashed themselves against the rocks and killed themselves out of frustration. Or something like that, I can't remember. :P

If you know anything about the folklore surrounding the Lorelei, do tell me. I hardly know anything about German folklore ('cept for kobolds and gnomes and - Teutonic knights? vaguely) so I'll be glad to know more.

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