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Little Thumb

2006-07-08 17:49

  Her beauty was her undoing. Lorelei was not willfully seductive, but men could not resist her charms, and she could not resist their advances. She was bringing scandal and disgrace to the respectable town of Bacharach-on-the-Rhine.

  There was even talk that she must be a witch or a woman possessed of the devil. The bishop, however, would not hear of an execution without due process, and he summoned her to his court. His questions were at first stern and severe. Her answers were simple and sincere. The bishop's severity, his piety, and his priesthood, however, did not prevail, and in the end he pronounced her free of all guilt.

  “I cannot continue like this!” she cried. “My eyes are the destruction of every man who looks into them. I have loved only one man, and he abandoned me and left for a distant land. Please let me die!”

  But the good bishop could not bring himself to pronounce a death sentence. Instead, he proposed that she dedicate herself to God, and called three knights to accompany her to the convent. Arrangements were made forthwith, and the three knights were soon underway with their beautiful ward.

  When their path led them past a high cliff overlooking the Rhine, Lorelei had one last request of her escorts. “Please,” she said, “let me climb the cliff and have one last look into the Rhine.” Unable to deny her this wish, the three knights tethered their horses, and the four of them climbed to the top of the cliff.

  Standing at the edge of the precipice, Lorelei said, “See that boat on the Rhine. The boatman is my lover!” And with no further warning, she jumped from the cliff into the Rhine.

  The three knights also met their death there, without a priest and without a grave.

  Who is the singer of this song?

  A boatman on the Rhine,And we always hear the echo Of the Three-Knight-Stone:

  Lorelei

  As though there were three of us.

  Germany Retold from the ballad “Lore Lay” by Clemens Brentano (1801)。 The spelling “Lorelei” was used by poets Joseph von Eichendorff, Heinrich Heine, and others. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html

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