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Lorelei by Sylvia Plath

I recently discovered that Sylvia Plath wrote a poem called Lorelei. How is that for a Black, White & Read connection!?


A little backstory before you read the poem on the origin of the name Lorelei/Lorelai. The Lorelei is actually a large rock that sits on the eastern bank of the Rhine river (at the narrowest point). A very strong current and rocks below the waterline have caused many sailors to crash amongst her rocks. In addition, this hazardous rock has sparked forklore of a water sprite, also named Lorelei. In the tale, Lorelei sits on the cliffs above the Rhine, combing her hair and unwittingly distracting shipmen with her beauty and song. Her siren song causes these sailors to shipwreck upon the Lorelei rock. Read more about the origin of the name and where it appears in works of art, music and literature here.

lorelei statue.jpg

And with that long-winded explanation, I present to you Lorelei by Sylvia Plath (part of the collection The Colossus and Other Poems). Lorelei 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.

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