Die Lorelei (Stevie Smith)

An antique story comes to me

And fills me with anxiety,

I wonder why I fear so much

What surely has no modern touch?


It is of Germany it speaks

One evening time; the mountain peaks

Are in the sun, but the old Rhine

Flows secretly and does not shine.


There, on a rock majestical,

A girl with smile equivocal

Painted, young and damned and fair

Sits and combs her yellow hair.


With a yellow comb she combs it,

Sings a song, and sometimes moans it,

That has a most pecular turn,

It makes the heart and belly burn.


The sailor sailing, hearing it

Falls at once into a fit,

He does not see the rocky race

His eyes are looking for a face.


The boat strikes hard, as she must do,

And down she goes, and she goes too.

This story brings me so much grief

I know not how to find relief.


Lurks there some meaning underneath?


 (published 1962)

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