THE HOSTESS' DAUGHTER
Three students had cross'd o'er the Rhine's dark tide;
At the door of a hostel they turned aside.
"Hast thou, Dame hostess, good ale and wine?
And where is thy daughter, so sweet and fine?"
"My ale and wine are cool and clear;
On her death-bed lieth my daughter dear."
And when to the chamber they made their way,
In a sable coffin the damsel lay.
The first — the veil from her face he took,
And gazed upon her with mournful look:
"Alas! fair maiden — didst thou still live,
To thee my love would I henceforth give!"
To second — he lightly replaced the shroud,
Then round he turned him, and wept aloud:
"Thou liest, alas! on thy death-bed here;
I loved thee fondly for many a year!"
The third — he lifted again the veil,
And gently he kissed those lips so pale:
"I love thee now, as I loved of yore,
And thus will I love thee forevermore!"
-trans. W.W. Skeat
-German title: Der Wirtin Töchterlein.
(Illustration is Carl Philipp Fohr, Knights before a Charcoal Burner's Hut, 1816.)