The Lorelei and Siren Song

Topics: Folk music, Rhine, Death Pages: 2 (767 words) Published: March 4, 2012
Have you ever thought of a time when a beautiful sound or sight made you lose track of what was going on around you? What do you think about dangerously beautiful music? Is Lorelei only a legend or something more? Close your eyes and imagine this beauty. ‘The Lorelei’, on the bank of the Rhine River, is a large rock that produces an echo. It became associated with a legend about a spirit of a woman who would lure boatmen to their deaths with her beautiful singing, The woman had drowned herself in the river because of an unfaithful lover. Heine’s poem, based on this legend, first appeared in his most famous volume, the ‘Book of Songs’. Like much of his early verse, it was influenced by the Romantic writers’ fascination with folk songs. The poem deals with the theme of unrequited love. While reading it we are lulled into a false sense of security. The outstanding feature of this poem is the turn, i.e. ironic twist, which concludes it. ‘The Lorelei’ has been set to music by more than twenty-five composers. It became so popular that anti-Semitic Nazis, who controlled Germany during 1930s and early 1940s, did not remove it from schoolbooks after they banned Heine’s works because he was Jewish. Instead, editors described it as ‘a popular folk song, author unknown’. The author is best known for his lyrical poems, which brought a new tone of irony and skepticism to German literature. In his time, however, this earned him as much condemnation as praise. As he grew older financial and health problems increasingly burdened him. Sometimes the view is voiced that Heine, unlike his romantic predecessors, restored the original legend. In the poem it is said that there was a beautiful woman, who used to sit and sing from the top of a cliff, which is located on the right bank of the Rhine River. Her singing and her beauty were so seductive thaSt the sailors, who were passing the dangerous cliff, could not take there eyes off of her. Then they and their ships were smashed...
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