De-architecting Fenn’s Treasure Poem

Fenn has said, and I believe, that in order to find his hidden treasure, all you need is a copy of the poem he’s written. The poem consists of 6 stanzas, and each Stanza has four lines, like this:


As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answer I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

(Note “John Brown’s” comment below: “You used the version from the web site which is different than the version in the book. Line 19 in the book is “The answers I already know,” while line 19 on his website is: ‘The answer I already know,’. To be more explicit: in the book he uses the plural “answers” and on his website he uses the singular ‘answer.'”)


At the event in Taos, Fenn recited the poem almost entirely from memory. He had to refer to his notes to recall the last stanza.

He also recited parts of two other poems from memory. The first, he said, was from “Alice in Wonderland.” The second was the last stanza from William Ernest Henley’s poem, “Invictus.”

(You can view the entire video of the event here.)

In both cases, the rhyme, meter and structure of the two other poems were exactly the same as Fenn’s treasure poem.

Curiouser and curiouser.

He’s also said, on more than one occasion, that he wrote and refined the poem over a 15 year period, and that he put it together like an architect would have. (Refer to previous posts on video commentary here and here.)

The poem contains 9 sentences. When divided by sentence structure, it looks like this:


  1. As I have gone alone in there and with my treasures bold, I can keep my secret where, and hint of riches new and old.
  2. Begin it where warm waters halt and take it in the canyon down, not far, but too far to walk.
  3. Put in below the home of Brown.
  4. From there it’s no place for the meek, the end is ever drawing nigh; there’ll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high.
  5. If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, look quickly down, your quest to cease, but tarry scant with marvel gaze, just take the chest and go in peace.
  6. So why is it that I must go and leave my trove for all to seek?
  7. The answer I already know, I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.
  8. So hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold.
  9. If you are brave and in the wood I give you title to the gold.

Again, during the event at Moby Dickens in Taos, Fenn said all the clues were contiguous.

The dictionary defines the word as “…being in actual contact :  touching along a boundary or at a point…” But, in Fennspeak, that could mean one or more things. It could mean that it is possible to draw a line from the beginning to the end of the search on a map. Or, that in the field a following clue would be discovered after arriving at the previous clue.

Or, (and this is what I believe) that the clues are in contiguous lines in the poem. Fenn has said that there are nine clues in the poem, and he has, on more than one occasion, said that the first clue is “Begin it where warm waters halt…” If, as he suggests above, they are contiguous, the poem would look like this:


As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

1. Begin it where warm waters halt
2. and take it in the canyon down,
3. not far, but too far to walk.
4. Put in below the home of Brown.
5. From there it’s no place for the meek,
6. the end is ever drawing nigh;
7. there’ll be no paddle up your creek,
8. just heavy loads and water high.
9. If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.


It could be argued, of course, that those are not the nine clues, or that there are more than nine clues, or that the entire poem is one great big metaphysical wonder.

But, I tend to take Fenn at his word when it comes to the poem. He has always treated it with an almost religious respect.

Comments are open. Tell me what you think. And, don’t tell me what you think is only that I’m wrong. Offer an alternative solution.

I’m off this weekend to search in the area depicted in this photo.

Search Solution 2 in New Mexico.

Search solution 2 in New Mexico.

14 thoughts on “De-architecting Fenn’s Treasure Poem

  1. I don’t think that “not far, but too far to walk” is a clue. I kind of like “look quickly down.” One alternative definition of quickly is “without taking pains.” When I read it, it seems like some words are only there to rhyme. Meek is only there to rhyme with creek, which is much more important. Nigh is only there to rhyme with high. HOB is the most important clue because Brown is capitalized. You can guess at that because it is a proper name and then work backwards to find WWWH, which is obviously a riddle.

  2. First of all, the website looks great. Did anyone else think it was strange that he has everything memorized except the end? Also, I believe when you connect the dots it forms some kind of symbol. Possibly an omega.

  3. I have a different take on the architect line, and note: the ‘architect hint’ is not itself a clue… could be just herring of the crimson variety:
    I take his comment “crafted by an architect” literally. An architect literally contributed to the poem. Mull that one over.

    • Absolutely !
      Peter Roget !

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thesaurus

      “The main purpose of such reference works is to help the user “to find the word, or words, by which [an] idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed” – to quote Peter Roget, architect of the best known thesaurus in the English language”

    • I would prefer that, on this site, we don’t make chellenges like ‘mull that one over’ a substitute for a defendable position. If you have an argument to make or an opinion on an idea or concept, you should attempt to make it.

      • Fair enough Toby. Though i’ll say I’m not interested in a defendable position, as that suggests, to my mind, debate; and debate about an unknown (location of hidden treasure) would be an exercise without a goal. I just meant “dear reader, what if that is indeed the case! Imagine that!”
        And yes, I believe within FF’s poem there are quotes from an actual architect (the kind associated with buildings, not the figurative kind), but elaborating before I prove it true or false could be an expensive mistake. 😉

  4. Toby your videos are great, thanks for sharing them with us.

    As far as the meaning of contiguous, Fenn has said the dictionary in an infringement on free speech. I take it to mean consecutive as he said in another video. But since Fenn is not constrained by the dictionary…..who knows.

    • It seems to me that Forrest is more of a fan of a Thesaurus than Dictionary.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thesaurus

      “The main purpose of such reference works is to help the user “to find the word, or words, by which [an] idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed” – to quote Peter Roget, architect of the best known thesaurus in the English language”

      http://thesaurus.com/browse/contiguous

      “Synonyms: abutting, adjoining, approximal, beside, bordering, close, contactual, conterminous, juxtaposed, juxtapositional, meeting, near, near-at-hand, nearby, neighboring, next, next door to, next to, touching”

      Forrest is a very honest man that has to use these obscure words in the circumstance of the treasure hunt to be accurate but not precise.

      Kinda like a politician does in order to get elected.

      Here’s one for you guys.

      “Halt”
      Now Forrest knows darn well people will take that word for granted to mean stop.

      But what are the other meanings ?

      The answers I already know.

      http://thesaurus.com/browse/halt?s=t

      “Synonyms: arrest, break, break-off, close, cutoff, freeze*, grinding halt, impasse, interruption, layoff, letup, pause, screaming halt, screeching halt, stand, standstill, stop, termination “

  5. You used the version from the web site which is different than the version in the book. Line 19 in the book is “The answers I already know,” while line 19 on his website is: “The answer I already know,.” To be more explicit: in the book he uses the plural “answers” and on his website he uses the singular “answer.” I’ve never known what to make of that nor how to interpret his statement that the poem was crafted by an “architect” in light of that. I think of architects as having to take care of every detail down to the last jot while Fenn doesn’t seem to think it isn’t important whether “answer” is plural or singular. Maybe his “architect” statement should be taken with a grain of salt.

    • In my opinion, it is far easier to correct a mistake in the online version (as opposed to an already published book). I’ve assumed the online version is correct and that the error is in the book. I don’t yet know if it has meaning or not.

  6. When Forrest is asked about what the clues are he always starts with “Begin it where warm waters halt”. He says this is the starting point and that it will do no good trying to figure out the rest until you find this correct starting point. It can only be one place and not something ambiguous like hot springs, dams, rivers (remember he uses the word “creek”) or any other idea that could be fit into a hundred possible places. No endeavor can be more important than figuring out the warm waters clue. I used to think it was the NM fishing waters designation but that is also a thought that can take you to too many places. Forrest says if you figure this out correctly it will take you right to the spot without any guess work – his words are “there will be nothing accidental about it.” So, if the poem is a map, as f says it is, and there is nothing tricky about it, the best thing to roll around in your mind is where the heck is that one single place where warm waters halt.

    I believe it is in NM.
    I believe it is fairly near a mountain top.
    I believe the particular mountain is very special to Forrest.
    I believe the warm waters clue means what it says but is also a way of saying something else.
    Could I be wrong? 🙂

    Has anyone seen this blaze? Check it out at

  7. Toby, I like how you broke down the different possibilities.I have always thought that the clues were the 9 sentences.That just seems to make the most sense. At times I do look at different structures and have often wondered if the first stanza(sentence) is a preface that points to a general locale. This is a good topic that should be talked or thought about until it is figured out!

  8. “Contiguous” may blow my favorite solution out of the water. Although each of my clue solutions lead very obviously (at least to me) to the next clue solution, they do not touch each other, as a river touches its bank or HOB being in the canyon.

    I hope he was referring to the clues being contiguous in the poem and not the solutions on the ground.

    Good luck on your search, and thanks for another site to enjoy.

    jdh

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