Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Germany
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII.  1876–79.
 
Rhine, the River
The Nibelungen Hoard
From the Nibelungenlied
 
Translated by W. N. Lettsom

AND now the men of Kriemhild before the mountain stood,
And some too of her kinsmen; the hoard, as best they could,
Down to the sea they carried: there in good barks ’t was laid,
Thence o’er the waves, and lastly up the Rhine conveyed.
 
The tale of that same treasure might well your wonder raise;        5
’T was much as twelve huge wagons in four whole nights and days
Could carry from the mountain down to the salt-sea bay,
If to and fro each wagon thrice journeyed every day.
 
It was made up of nothing but precious stones and gold;
Were all the world bought from it, and down the value told,        10
Not a mark the less thereafter were left, than erst was scored.
Good reason sure had Hagan to covet such a hoard.
 
And thereamong was lying the wishing-rod of gold,
Which whoso could discover, might in subjection hold
All this wide world as master, with all that dwell therein.        15
There came to Worms with Gernot full many of Albric’s kin.
*        *        *        *        *
When they had brought the treasure thence to King Gunther’s land,
And had their charge delivered into fair Kriemhild’s hand,
Crammed were the towers and chambers wherein the same they stored.
Ne’er told was tale of riches to match this boundless hoard.
*        *        *        *        *
        20
Now she had gained possession, so liberal was the dame,
That foreign knights unnumbered into the country came.
All praised her generous virtues, and owned they ne’er had seen
Lady so open-handed as this fair widowed queen.
 
To rich and poor together began she now to give;        25
Thereat observed Sir Hagan, “If she should chance to live
Some little season longer, so many should we see
Won over to her service, that ill for us ’t would be.”
 
Thereto made answer Gunther, “The hoard is hers alone;
How can I check her giving? she gives but from her own.        30
Scarce could I gain forgiveness for my offence of old.
I care not how she scatters her jewels and her ruddy gold.”
*        *        *        *        *
Then said the good Sir Gernot, “Ere this pernicious mine
Confound us any further, better beneath the Rhine
Sink it altogether, and tell no mortal where.”        35
Then sadly went fair Kriemhild to her brother Giselher.
 
She wept and said, “Dear brother, pray take some thought of me;
Of my person and possessions thou shouldst the guardian be.”
Then spake he to his sister, “I will, whate’er betide,
Soon as we come back hither, for now we hence must ride.”        40
 
King Gunther and his kinsmen they forthwith left the land.
The very best among them he took to form his band.
There stayed behind but Hagan; fierce hate and malice still
He bore the weeping Kriemhild, and sought to work her ill.
 
Ere back the king came thither, impatient of delay        45
Hagan seized the treasure, and bore it thence away.
Into the Rhine at Lochheim the whole at once threw he!
Henceforth he thought t’ enjoy it, but that was ne’er to be.
 
He nevermore could get it for all his vain desire;
So fortune oft the traitor cheats of his treason’s hire.        50
Alone he hoped to use it as long as he should live,
But neither himself could profit, nor to another give.
 
 
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