Monday, 19 March 2012

The Lorelei (Heinrich Heine)

Poem by the 19th century German poet Heinrich Heine, later set to music by Clara Schumann, translated here into English by Mark Twain, followed by a video of the art of Albert Pinkham Ryder, born 155 years ago today, accompanied by composition "The Cloudy Road" of Yoko Kanno, also born on this day. The painting on the right meanwhile is "Calypso's Isle" by Herbert Draper.

The Beautiful Lorelei
I cannot divine what it meaneth,
This haunting nameless pain:
A tale of the bygone ages
Keeps brooding through my brain:

The faint air cools in the gloaming,
And peaceful flows the Rhine,
The thirsty summits are drinking
The sunset's flooding wine;

The loveliest maiden is sitting
High-throned in yon blue air,
Her golden jewels are shining,
She combs her golden hair:

She combs with comb that is golden,
And sings a weird refrain
That steeps in a deadly enchantment
The listener's ravished brain:

The doomed in his drifting shallop,
Is tranced with the sad sweet tone,
He sees not the yawing breakers,
He sees but the maid alone:

The pitiless billows engulf him!-
So perish sailor and bark;
And this, with her baleful singing,
Is the Lorelei's gruesome work.
Translation by Mark Twain

Thanks to Jon, a choral rendition:


  1. Lovely stuff, Okei. I particularly like the piano music.

    It took a bit of finding but here is choral a version of Die Lorelei I had before I got married . . .

  2. Thanks Arjuna, and thank you Jon! Piano music is by Yoko Kanno born yesterday, lol... (a few years ago). I look forward to taking a listen... there's also a version I linked to right at the beginning of the blog, so I'm wondering if it's the same/similar.

  3. No, the version in your link is very different in tone and melody, Okei. More fierce.

  4. Ah, lovely! I discovered your version is a folk melody composed by Friedrich Silcher. Very moving...

    What other music did you have played?

    A portrait of Silcher from 1822, author unknown (according to wiki, strange that it's unknown).

  5. I found another poem that the painter Ryder was inspired by was Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner", excerpt below...


    All in a hot and copper sky,
    The bloody sun, at noon,
    Right up above the mast did stand,
    No bigger than the moon.

    Day after day, day after day,
    We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
    As idle as a painted ship
    Upon a painted ocean.

    Water, water, every where,
    And all the boards did shrink;
    Water, water, every where,
    Nor any drop to drink.


  6. I can't really remember much of the disc, Okei. I know Ich Hatt Einen Kamaraden was on it but I can't find an adequate version on Youtube. I have a passion for male voice choirs and this German one was excellent.

  7. Some of the old Giles cartoons were also inspired by the Ancient Mariner :-))

    I remember a disgruntled wife calling memebrs of the Royal Yacht Squadron, "Slimy things that crawl with legs upon a slimy sea." :-)))

  8. Lol, that's funny!

    And thanks for sharing.


  9. Lovely post and video, Okei...