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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 Right Word

By Adelheid von Stolterfoth (1800–1875)

Translated by A. Baskerville

DEEP ’neath the Rhine’s green billow

A golden treasure lies,

Knew’st thou the spell of magic

’T would at thy voice arise;

That magic word which holdeth,

With but a single sound,

The mighty torrent’s surges,

As if in fetters bound.

Deep in the valley buried

A sword all-conquering lies,

And he who can possess it

Against the world may rise.

One word must first be spoken,

The earth then opes, and lo!

From out her rocky chambers

The steel will brightly glow.

And there on yonder mountains,

Deep in the shaft profound,

By dwarfs and gnomes well guarded,

There may a key be found;

It opens every portal,

Forever ’t is thy own,

Know’st thou ’mong words unnumbered

That one right word alone.

How have I mused already

In vain so long, so long,

Till, word by word commencing,

It ended in a song!

But still as yet lie hidden

That treasure, key, and sword,

And what I sang so often

Was never the right word.