Seegespenst Loreley (Doktor, sind Sie des Teufels?)
Update for Seraphine:
One of my favourite songs. Reminds me of a girlfriend when I was young. My mum went to see the statue of the Lorelei on her rock in the Rhine.
She said It’s a bit pornographic. Then again, I don’t suppose you would crash your ship for a nice girl in sensible shoes.
Tommy Tipitcup on The Pogues: Lorelei, 2010.
X. An Apparition in the sea
I however lay on the edge of the vessel,
And gazed with dreamy eyes
Down into the glass-clear water.
And gazed deeper and deeper,
Deep down into the bottom of the sea.
At first like a twilight mist,
Then gradually more distinctly colored,
Domes of churches and towers arose,
And at last, as clear as sunshine, a whole city,
An antique Netherland city,
Enlivened with people.
Grave men, with black mantles,
And white ruffs, and chains of honor,
And long swords and long faces,
Strode over the swarming market-place,
Toward the court-house with its high steps,
Where the stone effigies of emperors
Kept guard with scepter and sword.
Nearby, past long rows of houses,
Past casements like polished mirrors,
And pyramidal, clipped lindens,
Wandered, in rustling silks, the young maidens,
With slender forms, and flower-faces
Decently encircled by their black hoods,
And their waving golden hair.
Motley-clad folk in Spanish garb
Strut past and salute each other.
In brown, old-fashioned attire.
Missal and rosary in hand,
Hasten with tripping steps
Toward the great cathedral,
Drawn thither by the chiming bells,
And by the deep-voiced tones of the organ.
And the far-off chimes smite me also
With mysterious awe.
Insatiable yearning, profound sadness
Steal into my heart,
Into my scarcely-healed heart.
I feel as if its wounds
Were kissed open by beloved lips,
And began to bleed afresh,
With hot, red drops,
That fall long and slowly,
On an old house below there
In the deep of the sea; —
On an old high-gabled house,
Sadly deserted by all living creatures,
Save that in the lower window
Sits a maiden,
Her head resting on her arms,
Like a poor, forsaken child,
And I know thee, thou poor, forsaken child.
Deep down, deep as the sea,
Thou hiddest thyself from me,
In a childish freak,
And never couldst rise again.
And thou sat’st a stranger among strangers,
Through long ages,
Whilst I, my soul full of grief, —
I sought thee over the whole earth.
Forever I sought thee,
Thou found at last!
I have found thee, and I see once more
Thy sweet face,
The wise, loyal eyes,
The darling smile,
And never again will I leave thee,
And I come down to thee now,
And with wide-stretched arms,
I leap down upon thy breast.
But just at the right moment
The captain seized me by the foot,
And drew me from the edge of the vessel,
And cried with a peevish laugh,
“Doctor, are you possessed by the devil?”
Heinrich Heine: Lorelei, from: Buch der Lieder, 1825. Translation by Emma Lazarus:
The cool air darkens, and listen,
How softly flows the Rhine!
The mountain peaks still glisten
Where the evening sunbeams shine.
The fairest maid sits dreaming
In radiant beauty there.
Her gold and her jewels are gleaming,
She combeth her golden hair.
With a golden comb she is combing;
A wondrous song sings she.
The music quaint in the gloaming,
Hath a powerful melody.
It thrills with a passionate yearning
The boatman below in the night.
He heeds not the rocky reef’s warning,
He gazes alone in the height.
I think that the waters swallowed
The boat and the boatman anon.
And this, with her singing unhallowed,
The Lorelei hath done.
Images: Tim Walker: Stairway featuring Lily Cole via SNRE Unique, ca. 2011;
Amy Ballinger: Passage, July 4th, 2010;
Ernst Härter: Loreleybrunnen. Heinrich-Heine-Denkmal in Bronx, New York, missioned by Kaiserin Elisabeth von Österreich, 1888.
Soundtrack: The Pogues: Lorelei, from: Peace and Love, 1989.