Above Coblentz, where the Rhine flows
through hills covered with vineyards, there is a steep rock, around which
many a legend has been woven -- the Lorelei Rock. The boatman gazes up
at its gigantic summit with awful reverence when his boat glides over the
waters at twilight.
Ronald was a proud youth and the boldest
warrior at the court of his father, the Palatinate Count. He heard of this
divine, enchanting creature, and his heart burned with the desire to behold
her. Before having seen the waternymph, he felt drawn to her by an irresistible
power.Under the pretence of hunting, he left the court, and succeeded in
getting an old sailor to row
Like chattering children the restless
waves whisper round the rock, telling wonderful tales of its doings. Above
on its gray head, the legend relates that a beautiful but false nymph,
clothed in white with a wreath of stars in her flowing hair, used
to sit and sing sweet songs, until a sad tragedy drove her forever away.
Long, long ago, when night in her dark
garment descended from the hills, and her silent comrade, the pale moon,
cast a silver bridge over the deep green steam, the soft voice of a woman
was heard from the rock, and a creature of divine beauty was seen on its
summit. Her copper locks flowed like a queenly mantle from her graceful
shoulders, covering her snow white
raiment so that her tenderly-formed
body appeared like a cloud of light.
Woe to the boatman who passed the rock at
the close of day! As of old, men were fascinated by the heavenly song of
the Grecian hero, so was the unhappy voyager allured by this Being
to sweet forgetfulness, his eyes, even his soul, would be dazzled,
and he could no longer steer clear of reefs and cliffs, and this beautiful
siren only drew him to an early graved.
Forgetting all else, he would steer
towards her, already dreaming of having reached her; but the jealous
waves would round his boat and at last dash him treacherously against the
rocks. The roaring waters of the Rhine would drown the cries of agony of
the victim would never be seen again.
But the virgin to whom no one had ever approached,
continued every night to sing soft and low, till darkness vanished in the
first rays of light, and the great star of day drove the gray mists from
him to the rock. Twilight was brooding
over the valley of the Rhine when the boat approached the gigantic cliff;
the departing sun had long sunk below the mountains, and now night was
creeping on in silence; the evening star was twinkling in the deep blue
firmament. Was it his protecting-angel who had placed it there as a warning
to the deluded young man?
He gazed at it in rapture for some time,
until a low cry from the old man at his side interrupted him. "The Lorelei!"
whispered he, startled, "do you see her -- the enchantress?" The
only answer was a soft murmur which escaped from the youth. With wide-open
eyes he looked up and lo!, there she was. Yes, this was she, this wonderful
creature! A glorious picture in a dark
frame. Yes, that was her copper hair,
and those were her flowing white garments.
She was hovering up above on the rocks
combing her beautiful hair; rays of light surrounded her graceful head,
charms in spite of the night and the
distance, and as he gazed, her lips opened, and a song thrilled through
the silence, soft and plaintive like the sweet notes of a nightingale on
a still summer evening.
From her height she looked down into the hazy
distance and cast at the youth a rapturous look which ran down into his
soul, thrilling his whole frame. His eyes were fixed on the features of
this celestial being where he read the sweet story of love...Rocks, stream,
glorious night, all melted into a mist before his eyes, he saw nothing
but the figure above, nothing but her
radiant eyes. The boat crept along,
too slowly for him, he could no longer remain in it, and if
his ear did not deceive him, this creature
seemed to whisper his name with unutterable sweetness, and calling to her,
he dashed into the water. A death-like cry echoed from the rocks...and
the waves sighed and washed over the unhappy youth's corpse.
The old boatman moaned and crossed himself,
and as he did so, lightning tore the clouds asunder, and the loud peal
of thunder was heard over the mountains. Then the waves whisperedgently
below, and again from the heights above, sad and dying away, sounded the
The sad news was soon brought to the Palatinate
Count, who was overpowered with grief and anger. He ordered the false
enchantress to be delivered up to him,
dead or alive.
The next day a boat sailed down the Rhine,
manned by four hardy bold warriors. The leader looked up sternly
at the great rocks which seemed to be smiling silently down at him. He
had asked permission to dash the diabolical seducer from the top of the
rocks into the foaming whirlpool below, where she would find a certain
death, and the Count had readily agreed to this plan of revenge.
The first shades of twilight were gliding
softly over the mountains and hills. The rock was surrounded by armed men,
and leader, followed by some daring comrades, was climbing up the
side of the mountain, the top of which was veiled in a golden mist, which
the men thought were the last rays of sunset. It was a bright gleam of
light enshrouding the nymph who appeared on the rocks, dreamily combing
her copper hair. She then took a string of pearls from her bosom, and with
her slender white hand bound them round her forehead. She cast a mocking
glance at the threatening men approaching her.
"What are the weak sons of the earth
seeking up here on the heights?" said she, moving her rosy lips scornfully.
"You sorceress!" cried the leader, enraged, adding with a contemptuous
smile, "You! We shall dash you down into the river below!"
An echoing laugh was heard over the
mountain. "Oh! The Rhine will come himself to fetch me!" cried the Maiden.
Then, bending her lovely body over the
precipice yawning below, she tore the jewels from her forehead, hurling
them triumphantly into the waters, while in a low sweet voice she
"Haste thee, haste thee, oh father
dear! Send forth thy steeds from the waters clear. I will ride with
the waves and the wind!"
Then a storm burst forth, the Rhine
rose, covering its banks with foam. Two gigantic billows like snow-white
steeds rose out of the depths, and carried the nymph down into the rushing
The terrified messengers returned to
the Count, bringing him the tidings of this wonderful event. Ronald, whose
body a chance wave had washed up on the banks of the river, was deeply
mourned throughout the country.
From this time forth, the Lorelei was
never seen again. Only when night sheds her dark shadow on the hills, and
the pale moon weaves a silver bridge over the deep green stream, then the
voice of a woman, soft and low, is heard echoing from the heights of the
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