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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Translations

PRELUDE

As treasures that men seek,
  Deep-buried in sea-sands,
Vanish if they but speak,
  And elude their eager hands,

So ye escape and slip,
  O songs, and fade away,
When the word is on my lip
  To interpret what ye say.

Were it not better, then,
  To let the treasures rest
Hid from the eyes of men,
  Locked in their iron chest?

I have but marked the place,
  But half the secret told,
That, following this slight trace,
  Others may find the gold.