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Die Lorelei

Time Frame

3 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size



Milton Beck


The student will use a traditional German folksong to:

  • Learn Vocabulary
  • Relate to Geography
  • Identify a Historical Time Period

Note: This can be an Internet activity.


Internet resources: Text and audio recording of Die Lorelei Map and photo of Loreley location Information about author and composer English translation of German text

Background for Teachers

Die Lorelei is a well-known and often performed German folksong. The words were written by the exceptional German poet Heinrich Heine (1799-1856) and first published 1827 in Buch der Lieder (Book of Songs), his 'most famous collection of lyrics' which were 'chiefly inspired by his unrequited love for his Uncle's daughter, Amalie.' Heine's poetry has 'natural rhythm and melodic charm,' and Die Lorelei 'achieved the simplicity and depth of folk poetry.' The music was composed by Friedrich Silcher (1789-1860), a composer, poet, music teacher, publisher, and choral director noted for his encouragement of German folksong singing.

Die Lorelei (Loreley Rock), located near St. Goarshausen (between Bingen and Koblenz), rises ruggedly and steeply to a height of 133 meters (399 feet) above the surface of the Rhein River. The stoney ridges, projections, and shallows combined with a strong river current makes this a dangerous place. The Rhein is a major inland waterway, and over the centuries numerous boatmen, especially the unattentive, have lost their lives here.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will learn to understand the meaning of Die Lorelei.

Instructional Procedures


Imagine a man guiding a small boat in the fast-moving Rhine river past treacherous rocks. Add a view of a golden-haired maiden combing her hair on a rocky ledge high above the water. She awaits the return of her knight from battle.

Provide text and play audio recording of Die Lorelei.

Request students to read poem and list unfamiliar words.

Have students read poem aloud and discuss its meaning one line at a time.

Show map of Germany and identify the location of Loreley Rock.


Have each student do the following:

  1. Select a favorite folksong from his or her own culture.
  2. Prepare a short report which includes the origin (author, composer, and setting) and cultural significance of the song.
  3. Share the report and song with the class.

Assessment Plan

    Part 1.

      Have each small group of students complete the following Cloze test:

      Die Lorelei

      Ich ________ nicht, was soll es bedeuten, daß ich so traurig bin,
      ein ______________ aus uralten Zeiten, das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.
      Die Luft ist ________ und es dunkelt, und ruhig fließt der Rhein,
      der Gipfel des ____________ funkelt im Abendsonnenschein.

      Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet dort ________ wunderbar,
      ihr goldnes Geschmeide blitzet, sie kämmt ihr ________________ Haar.
      Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme und singt ein Lied __________;
      das hat eine wundersame, gewalt'ge ______________.

      Den ________________ im kleinen Schiffe ergreift es mit wildem Weh;
      er ____________ nicht die Felsenriffe, er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh.
      Ich glaube, die Wellen ________________________ am Ende Schiffer und Kahn;
      und das hat mit __________ Singen die Lorelei getan.


      Correct word (correct form) - 2 points
      Correct word, but incorrect form - 1 point

      Total possible: 24 points

    Part 2.

      Die Lorelei is written from the perspective of a person observing both the maiden and the boatman. Ask each student to answer (in English) one of the following two questions:

      1. How would the maiden describe her actions and those of the boatman ?
      2. How would the boatman describe his actions and those of the maiden ?

      Also ask each student to describe (in German) the location and height of Loreley Rock.


(See references, Links (in Procedure Steps), )

Reinhardt, Kurt F. Germany: 2000 Years (F. Ungar, New York, 1961) 580-583

Created: 08/30/1999
Updated: 02/05/2018