by Heinrich Heine
I don’t know what it could mean,
that I’m so sad: I find,
A fairy-tale, from times unseen,
Won’t vanish from my mind.
The air is cool and it darkens,
And quiet flows the Rhine:
The tops of the mountains sparkle,
In evening’s after-shine.
The loveliest of maidens,
She’s wonderful, sits there,
Her golden jewels glisten,
She combs her (shining) hair.
She combs it with a comb of gold,
And sings a song as well:
Its strangeness too is old
And casts a powerful spell.
It grips the boatman in his boat
With a wild pang of woe:
He only looks up to the heights,
Can’t see the rocks below.
I believe the waves swallowed
The boat and its boatman,
That’s what, by her singing,
The Lorelei has done.
by Sylvia Plath
It is no night to drown in:
A full moon, river lapsing
Black beneath bland mirror-sheen,
The blue water-mists dropping
Scrim after scrim like fishnets
Though fishermen are sleeping,
The massive castle turrets
Doubling themselves in a glass
All stillness. Yet these shapes float
Up toward me, troubling the face
Of quiet. From the nadir
They rise, their limbs ponderous
With richness, hair heavier
Than sculptured marble. They sing
Of a world more full and clear
Than can be. Sisters, your song
Bears a burden too weighty
For the whorled ear's listening
Here, in a well-steered country,
Under a balanced ruler.
Deranging by harmony
Beyond the mundane order,
Your voices lay siege. You lodge
On the pitched reefs of nightmare,
Promising sure harborage;
By day, descant from borders
Of hebetude, from the ledge
Also of high windows. Worse
Even than your maddening
Song, your silence. At the source
Of your ice-hearted calling --
Drunkenness of the great depths.
O river, I see drifting
Deep in your flux of silver
Those great goddesses of peace.
Stone, stone, ferry me down there.
by Orphan Veli
She must just have left the sea.
Her hair and lips
Smelled of the sea till morning.
Her rising and falling breast was like the sea.
I knew she was poor -
But you can't talk of poverty all the time.
Gently, next to my ear
She sang songs of love.
Who knows what she has learned and experienced
In her life fighting the sea.
Patching fish nets, casting fish nets, gathering fish nets,
To remind me of spiny fish
Her hands touched my hands.
That night I saw; I saw it in her eyes;
How lovely the sea has risen in the open sea.
Her hair taught me about waves;
I tossed and tossed around dreams.
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