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The LiederNet Archive
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Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten

Language: German (Deutsch)

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.


List of language codes

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"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]


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

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

Last modified: 2019-04-23 10:44:37
Line count: 24
Word count: 117

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     - Emily Ezust

The lorelei

Language: English after the German (Deutsch)

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 a 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 yawning 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.

Twain modestly says: "If I were at home, no doubt I could get a translation of this poem, but I am abroad and can't; therefore I will make a translation myself. It may not be a good one, for poetry is out of my line, but it will serve my purpose -- which is, to give the un-German young girl a jingle of words to hang the tune on until she can get hold of a good version, made by some one who is a poet and knows how to convey a poetical thought from one language to another."

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]


Based on
  • a text in German (Deutsch) by Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856), no title, appears in Buch der Lieder, in Die Heimkehr, no. 2 DUT FIN FRE GRE HUN ITA POR SPA
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Konstantin Julius Becker, Jakob Blied, Ingeborg Bronsart von Schellendorf, Christian Bruhn, Carl Debrois van Bruyck , Jeannette Antonie Bürde, née Milder, G. Burwig, John Driscoll, Louis Ehlert, Richard Farber, Zdenko Antonín Václav Fibich, Edmund von Freyhold, Niels Wilhelm Gade, Ferdinand Gleich, Ulf A. Grahn, J. Grill, Christian Friedrich Grimmer, Gustav Adolf Heinze, Richard Heinze, Peter Janssens, Moritz Kässmayer, Al. Kern, Hermann Kestner, Wilhelm Killmayer, Johanna Kinkel, née Mockel, Joseph Klein, E. Klitzsch, Friedrich Wilhelm Kücken, Franz Paul Lachner, Franz Liszt, O. Lübbert, Hermann von Maltzan, Carl Ludwig Amand Mangold, Alfred Michow, Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Müller, Emil Naumann, J. W. Nedelmann, Joseph Netzer, Carl Oberthür, W. Prischpiczek, Heinrich Proch, Joachim Raff, Otto Reutter, Georg Rösser, Karl Friedrich Rungenhagen, Louis Schlottmann, Ruth Schonthal, Ferdinand Schultz, Dr., Friedrich August Schulz, Clara Schumann, née Wieck, Friedrich Silcher, Rudi Spring, Wilhelm Steifensand, Emil Steinkühler, Julius Stern, Reinhold Stöckhardt, Richard Thiele, Otto Tiehsen, Albert Karl Tottmann, Walter Trautner, Anton Urspruch, Johann Vesque von Püttlingen, Th. Werner, Paul Widemann, August Daniel Ferdinand Victor Wilhelmj, Gotthard Wöhler. Go to the text.

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

    [ None yet in the database ]

Text added to the website: 2012-09-02 00:00:00.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:05:02
Line count: 24
Word count: 131