by Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)
Translation © by Walter Meyer

Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): DUT ENG FIN FRE GRE HUN POR SPA
Ich weiß nicht, was [soll es]1 bedeuten
Daß ich so traurig bin;
Ein Märchen aus [alten]2 Zeiten
Das [kommt]3 mir nicht aus dem Sinn.

Die Luft ist kühl und es dunkelt,
Und ruhig [fließt]4 der Rhein;
[Der Gipfel des Berges]5 funkelt
Im Abendsonnenschein.

Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
Dort oben wunderbar,
Ihr goldnes Geschmeide blitzet
Sie kämmt [ihr goldenes]6 Haar.

Sie kämmt es mit [goldenem]7 Kamme
Und singt ein Lied dabei;
Das hat eine wundersame
Gewaltige Melodei.

Den Schiffer im kleinen [Schiffe]8
Ergreift es mit wildem Weh,
Er [schaut]9 nicht die Felsenriffe,
Er [schaut nur hinauf]10 in die Höh.

Ich glaube, die Wellen verschlingen
Am Ende Schiffer und Kahn;
Und das hat mit ihrem Singen
Die [Lorelei]11 getan.

R. Schonthal sets stanza 1

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Liszt: "soll's"
2 Fibich: "uralten"
3 Fibich: "geht"
4 Bürde: "fliesset"
5 Fibich: "Des Berges Gipfel"
6 Bürde: "das gold'ne"
7 Liszt: "gold'nem"
8 Bürde: "Kahne"
9 Fibich: "sieht"
10 Fibich: "sieht nur nach ihr"
11 Bürde: "Loreley"

Authorship

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Walter Meyer) , no title, copyright © 1995, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emma Lazarus) , appears in Poems and Ballads of Heinrich Heine, first published 1881
  • ENG English [singable] (Arthur Westbrook) , "The Loreley"
  • ENG English [singable] (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) , "The lorelei", appears in A Tramp Abroad, Volume 1, Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, p. 123-4, first published 1880
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Erkki Pullinen) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GRE Greek (Ελληνικά) [singable] (Christakis Poumbouris) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • HUN Hungarian (Magyar) (Tamás Rédey) , "Lorelei", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • POR Portuguese (Português) (Margarida Moreno) , "A Loreley", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Alfredo García) , "Lorelei", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]
I'm looking in vain for the reason
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
I'm looking in vain for the reason
That I am so sad and distressed;
A tale known for many a season
Will not allow me to rest.

Cool is the air in the twilight
And quietly flows the Rhine;
The mountain top glows with a highlight
From the evening sun's last shine.

The fairest of maiden's reposing
So wonderously up there.
Her golden treasure disclosing;
She's combing her golden hair.

She combs it with comb of gold
And meanwhile sings a song
With melody strangely bold
And overpoweringly strong.

The boatman in his small craft
Is seized with longings, and sighs.
He sees not the rocks fore and aft;
He looks only up towards the skies.

I fear that the waves shall be flinging
Both vessel and man to their end;
That must have been what with her singing
The Lorelei did intend.

About the headline (FAQ)

Translation of title "Lorelei" = "Lorelei"

Authorship

  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 1995 by Walter Meyer, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.
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