Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Germany
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII.  1876–79.
Usédom, the Island
Greediness Punished
Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866)
Translated by C. T. 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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