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.
Question 1: Who is ”I”?
Knowing Fenn’s penchant for misdirection, it is important to consider the less obvious answers, which I have: Fenn’s dad, Skippy, Native Americans as a whole, Chief Joseph, Sacagawea, etc.. I have not been able to make any of these fit the poem or the hints in the books. Since the poem is admittedly about Fenn’s treasure, I am going to lean towards Fenn being the “I” spoken of here. This is the hypothesis I have been testing recently, testing it to the rest of the poem, the books, and Fenn’s own statements.
Question 2: Where is “there”?
Wherever “there” is, the very nature of it is why he can keep his secret:
“Because I have gone alone in there…. I can keep my secret”
Here I have paraphrased lines one and three to make a clear and concise statement. Beginning the poem with the word “As” is awkward, and perhaps the only reason he did it was because the word “Because” (which is the only sensible use of the word “As” in this context) would make the poem more difficult to crack. So, he can keep his secret BECAUSE he went in there alone.
What has Fenn said in his books, interviews or scrapbooks that would shed light on to where this place might be? He mentions where a person can truly keep a secret in his book The Thrill of the Chase:
“Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.”- Forrest Fenn, The Thrill of the Chase, page 133.
Now this is a corruption of the original quote by Ben Franklin: “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Why would Fenn change it? Well, he states in the chapter Gold and More of TTOTC that he is the only one with the secret. To emphasize this point, he changes the “two” to a “one” inferring that the dead guy is the only one 100% capable of keeping a secret. Since Fenn is the only one with the secret, Fenn must be the dead guy (this logic doesn’t work with the Ben Franklin quote, where the one left standing is the living guy, who is perfectly capable of blabbing). So where is “there” then? Well, it could be death, or the grave, I am not sure if it matters which. This brings us to his statement to his friend Ralph Lauren who quipped, “You can’t take it with you”, to which Fenn replied, “Then I’m not going.”-United Hemispheres magazine, January 2012 issue, page 68. Let’s reverse that- Fenn knows he will die, but is determined to take the treasure with him, the secret of the treasure’s location locked forever in his casket. All that will be left after his passing are hints, and from his grave and through his books he will, “hint of riches new and old”, until the treasure is found.
So how does this help us find the treasure? I don’t know yet. There is no indication that anything in the first stanza leads to the treasure. Fenn himself has proclaimed that the first clue is “where warm waters halt” which is in the second stanza. Perhaps this is a big jig saw puzzle, where we figure out one piece at a time until a picture begins to appear. Perhaps this is the first piece. At the very least, if this interpretation is correct, it may keep us out of caves, mines, museums (just kidding, Bob), or other dangerous “in there” places.