Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Photo of Loreley from Wikipedia
When I looked for some information on the Loreley Rock in the Rhine Gorge for my last post, I was surprised by the amount of art that it has inspired. Here is a sampling:

by Sylvia Plath, American poet,1960
(Note: This poem seems to foreshadow Plath's death by suicide in 1963)

It is no night to drown in:
Lorelei by British painter John William Waterhouse, 1900
A full moon, river lapsing
Black beneath bland mirror-sheen,

The blue water-mists dropping
Scrim after scrim like fishnets
Though fishermen are sleeping,

The massive castle turrets
Doubling themselves in a glass
All stillness. Yet these shapes float

Up toward me, troubling the face
Of quiet. From the nadir
They rise, their limbs ponderous

With richness, hair heavier
Than sculptured marble. They sing
Of a world more full and clear

Than can be. Sisters, your song
Bears a burden too weighty
For the whorled ear's listening

Here, in a well-steered country,
Under a balanced ruler.
Deranging by harmony

Beyond the mundane order,
Your voices lay siege. You lodge
On the pitched reefs of nightmare,

Promising sure harborage;
By day, descant from borders
Of hebetude, from the ledge

Also of high windows. Worse
Even than your maddening
Song, your silence. At the source

Of your ice-hearted calling --
Drunkenness of the great depths.
O river, I see drifting

Deep in your flux of silver
Those great goddesses of peace.
Stone, stone, ferry me down there.


by Heinrich Heine, German poet, 1823

Eduard Jakob von Steinle, The Lorelei, 1864
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.

Loreley, J. M W. Turner,  English Romantic landscape painter, 1817

Another Loreley, J. M W. Turner, 1817


  1. The pictures of Loreley were much more interesting than the rock itself. I think the actual rock was the most disappointing thing on our trip after the build-up it got. It would have been nice to see some big dangerous looking rocks in the river or a rock that looked like a mermaid, or some battered bodies hanging from hooks on the side of the cliff (remember the hanging hand in the cathedral in Prague). A big dud as far as I was concerned.

    1. But I do like your post!

    2. What? You didn't see Loreley sitting there combing her hair? You didn't hear her singing? You must have been sleeping.

    3. No, I was very much looking for a beautiful mermaid and all I saw was a non-descript hill.

  2. hey hey hey hey ehey ehey eheyh hey hehehehehehehehehehehe

    1. sorry that was my crazy cousin who like to be random, but anyway i like this poem it really effects me and also the post is awesome.

  3. I am with Bob--your post is more interesting that the rock. I guess it's like when we take visitors to our local sights, because -- gee -- that's all we've got. And the folks around there have their Loreley rock. Those poets will write about anything, won't they? J/K