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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.


From the German. The Happiest Land

  • The first ten of the following poems are all from the volume Voices of the Night, into which they were brought for the most part from Hyperion. The winter of 1836, spent by Mr. Longfellow in Germany, appears to have been the time when most of his translations from German poetry were made.

  • THERE sat one day in quiet,

    By an alehouse on the Rhine,

    Four hale and hearty fellows,

    And drank the precious wine.

    The landlord’s daughter filled their cups,

    Around the rustic board;

    Then sat they all so calm and still,

    And spake not one rude word.

    But when the maid departed,

    A Swabian raised his hand,

    And cried, all hot and flushed with wine,

    “Long live the Swabian land!

    “The greatest kingdom upon earth

    Cannot with that compare;

    With all the stout and hardy men

    And the nut-brown maidens there.”

    “Ha!” cried a Saxon, laughing,

    And dashed his beard with wine;

    “I had rather live in Lapland,

    Than that Swabian land of thine!

    “The goodliest land on all this earth,

    It is the Saxon land!

    There have I as many maidens

    As fingers on this hand!”

    “Hold your tongues! both Swabian and Saxon!”

    A bold Bohemian cries;

    “If there’s a heaven upon this earth,

    In Bohemia it lies.

    “There the tailor blows the flute,

    And the cobbler blows the horn,

    And the miner blows the bugle,

    Over mountain gorge and bourn.”


    And then the landlord’s daughter

    Up to heaven raised her hand,

    And said, “Ye may no more contend,—

    There lies the happiest land!”