THREE fellows were marching over the Rhine,
They stopped where they saw the hostess’ sign.
“Dear hostess, have you good beer and wine?
Where have you your daughter so fair and fine?”
“My beer is good, my wine is clear,
My daughter is lying upon the bier.”
Now into the chamber she led the way,
There in a black coffin the maiden lay.
The first man drew the veil aside,
And full of sorrow the maid espied.
“Ah, beautiful maiden, if thou couldst live!
To thee alone my love I would give!”
The second laid back the veil again,
And turned away and wept in pain.
“Oh, why must thou lie upon the bier!
Alas, I have loved thee for many a year.”
The third man lifted again the veil,
And kissed her upon the lips so pale:
“I loved thee always, I love thee to-day,
And I will love thee forever and aye.”
Written 1808. Translation by Margarete Münsterberg, first printed 1916.