Arnon Grunberg



At least two dozen times I must have passed Sankt Goar in my youth.
In that time the trains between the Netherlands and Switzerland followed the Rhine closely.
On the other side of Sankt Goar is the famous cliff located on which the Lorelei was sitting and singing.
The German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine wrote about it (the first stanzas in the translation of A.Z. Foreman): "I know not if there is a reason Why I am so sad at heart.
A legend of bygone ages Haunts me and will not depart.

The air is cool under nightfall.
The calm Rhine courses its way.
The peak of the mountain is sparkling
With evening's final ray.

The fairest of maidens is sitting
So marvelous up there,
Her golden jewels are shining,
She's combing her golden hair."

The golden hair is coming back in the famous poem "Todesfue" by Paul Celan:

Part of this poem In the translation by Foreman:

"Black milk of daybreak we drink it come evening
we drink it come midday come morning we drink it come night
we drink it and drink it
we spade out a grave in the air there it won't feel so tight
A man lives at home who plays with the vipers he writes
he writes in the German-born nightfall
the gold of your hair Margarete"

In German:

"Schwarze Milch der Frühe wir trinken sie abends
wir trinken sie mittags und morgens wir trinken sie nachts
wir trinken und trinken
wir schaufeln ein Grab in den Lüften da liegt man nicht eng
Ein Mann wohnt im Haus der spielt mit den Schlangen der schreibt
der schreibt wenn es dunkelt nach Deutschland
dein goldenes Haar Margarete"

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