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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Greediness Punished
By Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866)
 
Translation of Charles Timothy Brooks

IT was the cloister Grabow, in the land of Usédom;
For years had God’s free goodness to fill its larder come:
            They might have been contented!
 
Along the shore came swimming, to give the monks good cheer
Who dwelt within the cloister, two fishes every year:        5
            They might have been contented!
 
Two sturgeons—two great fat ones—and then this law was set,
That one of them should yearly be taken in a net:
            They might have been contented!
 
The other swam away then until next year came round,        10
Then with a new companion he punctually was found:
            They might have been contented!
 
So then again they caught one, and served him in the dish,
And regularly caught they, year in, year out, a fish:
            They might have been contented!        15
 
One year, the time appointed two such great fishes brought,
The question was a hard one, which of them should be caught:
            They might have been contented!
 
They caught them both together, but every greedy wight
Just spoiled his stomach by it; it served the gluttons right:        20
            They might have been contented!
 
This was the least of sorrows: hear how the cup ran o’er!
Henceforward to the cloister no fish came swimming more:
            They might have been contented!
 
So long had God supplied them of his free grace alone,        25
That now it is denied them, the fault is all their own:
            They might have been contented!
 
 
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