Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII. 1876–79.

Rhine, the River

The Lorelei

By Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

  • Anonymous translation
  • A witch who, in the form of a lovely maiden, used to place herself on the remarkable rock, called the Lurleyberg, overlooking the Rhine, and, by her magic songs arresting the attention of the boatmen, lured them into the neighboring whirlpool.

  • I KNOW not whence it rises,

    This thought so full of woe;

    But a tale of times departed

    Haunts me, and will not go.

    The air is cool, and it darkens,

    And calmly flows the Rhine,

    The mountain-peaks are sparkling

    In the sunny evening-shine.

    And yonder sits a maiden,

    The fairest of the fair;

    With gold is her garment glittering,

    And she combs her golden hair:

    With a golden comb she combs it;

    And a wild song singeth she,

    That melts the heart with a wondrous

    And powerful melody.

    The boatman feels his bosom

    With a nameless longing move;

    He sees not the gulfs before him,

    His gaze is fixed above,

    Till over boat and boatman

    The Rhine’s deep waters run:

    And this, with her magic singing,

    The Lore-lei has done!