THE INTOXICATED SONG

[THE NIGHT-WANDERER'S or THE SLEEPWALKER'S SONG]

(From Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

 

1

Meanwhile, however, one after another had stepped outdoors into the open and into the cool, reflective night; but Zarathustra himself led the ugliest man being by the hand, to show him his night world and the big round moon and the silver waterfalls near his cave. There at last they all stood together, nothing but old people, but with comforted, brave hearts and inwardly amazed that they felt so good on earth; but the mystery of the night came closer and closer to their hearts. And Zarathustra thought again to himself: “Oh, how well I like them now, these Higher Men!” But he did not say it aloud, for he respected their happiness and their silence. 

But then something happened that was the most amazing thing of that amazing long day: the ugliest man began once more and for the last time to gurgle and to snort, and when he had managed to put it in words, behold, a question leaped round and ready from his mouth, a good, deep, clear question, which moved the hearts of all who were listening to him. 

“My friends, all of you,” spoke the ugliest man, “what do you think? For the sake of this day, am satisfied for the first time that I have lived my entire life.

“And it’s still not enough for me to attest as much as I do. It’s worth it to live on earth: one day, one festival with Zarathustra taught me to love the earth. 

“‘Was that—life?’ I will say to death. ‘Very well! One More Time! [Once More]!’ 

“My friends, what do you think? Do you not want to say to death, as I do: ‘Was that—life?’ For Zarathustra’s sake, very well! One More Time!

 Thus spoke the ugliest man; but it was not long before midnight. And what do you think happened then? As soon as the Higher Men had heard his question, all at once they became aware of their transformation and convalescence, and of who gave it to them. Then they rushed toward Zarathustra, thanking, honoring, caressing him, kissing his hands, each in his own manner; such that some laughed, some wept. But the old prophet [soothsayer] danced with joy; and even if, as some chroniclers opine, he was full of sweet wine at the time, then he was certainly even more full of sweet life and he had renounced all weariness. There are even some who say that the ass also danced then; not for nothing, after all, had the ugliest man earlier given it wine to drink. Now this may have happened thus or otherwise, and if in truth on that evening the ass did not dance, then clearly even greater and rarer wonders took place there, than the dancing of an ass would have been. In sum, as Zarathustra’s saying goes: “What does it matter?” 

 

2

 

However, as this went on with the ugliest man, Zarathustra stood there like one intoxicated: his tongue slurred, his feet faltered. And who could even guess what thoughts were speeding then through Zarathustra’s soul? Visibly, however, his spirit receded and flew ahead and was in remote distances and at the same time “upon a high ridge,” as it is written, “between two seas, between the past and the future, wandering as a heavy cloud.” Gradually, however, as the Higher Men held him in their arms, he came to himself a bit and used his hands to fend away the throng of the revering and the worrying; yet he did not speak. All at once though he quickly turned his head, because he seemed to hear something: then he put his finger to his lips and said: “Come!”

And immediately it became still and mysterious all around; but from the depths the sound of a bell rose slowly. Zarathustra listened for it, as did the Higher Men; then he put his finger to his lips once more and said again: “Come! Come! Midnight approaches!” and his voice had altered. But still he did not stir from his place: then it grew even more still and mysterious, and everything listened, even the ass, and Zarathustra’s animals of honor, the eagle and the serpent, and likewise the cave of Zarathustra and the big cool moon and the night itself. Zarathustra, however, put his hand to his lips for the third time and said: “Come! Come! Come! Let us wander now! The hour has come: let us wander into the night! ” 

 

3

 

You Higher Men, it is going on midnight; I want to whisper something in your ears, like that old bell whispers it into my ear—as secretly, as terribly, as cordially as that midnight bell, which has experienced more than any one man, says it to me. It has already counted the painful heartbeats of your fathers. Ah! Ah! how it sighs! how in dreams it laughs! The ancient, deep, deep midnight! 

Still! Still! Here things are heard that by day may not be said; but now, in the cool air, when the clamour of your hearts, too,  has grown still—now it speaks, now it is heard, now it creeps into nocturnal, over-wakeful souls. Ah! Ah! how it sighs! how in dreams it laughs! Do you not hear how secretly, fearfully, cordially it speaks to you—the ancient, deep, deep midnight? 

O Man, Attend [Take Care]!

 

4

 

Woe is me! Where has time fled? Did I not sink into deep wells? The world is asleep. Ah! Ah! The dog howls, the moon is shining. I would sooner die, die, rather than tell you what my midnight-heart is now thinking right now. 

Now I am dead. It is finished. Spider, why do you spin your web around me? Do you want blood? Ah! Ah! The dew is falling, the hour has come—the hour that chills and freezes me, that asks and asks and asks: “Who has heart enough for it? Who shall be the master of the world? Who will say: thus you shall flow, you great and little streams!” The hour approaches: O man, you Higher Man, attend! This speech [discourse] is for delicate ears, for your ears: What does deep midnight’s voice declare [contend]?

 

5

 

I am carried away, my soul dances. Day’s task! Day’s task! Who shall be master of the world? 

The moon is cool, the wind falls silent. Ah! Ah! Have you flown high enough? You have danced: but a leg is no wing.

You good dancers, now all joy is over: wine has become resin, every cup has become brittle, the graves mutter.

You have not flown high enough; now the graves mutter: “Redeem the dead! Why does the night last so long? Does the moon not intoxicate us?”

You Higher Men, redeem the graves, awaken the corpses! Alas, why does the worm still burrow? It approaches, the hour approaches; the bell booms, the heart still drones, the woodworm, the heart’s worm, still burrows. Alas! The world is deep!

 

6

 

Sweet lyre! Sweet lyre! Your sound, your intoxicated ominous sound, delights me!—from how long ago, from how far away does your sound come to me, from afar, from pools of love!

You ancient bell, you sweet lyre! Every pain has torn at your heart, the pain of a father, the pain of our fathers, the pain of our forefathers; your speech has grown ripe, ripe like golden autumn and afternoons, like my hermit’s heart—now you speak: the world itself has grown ripe, the grapes turn brown, now they want to die, to die of happiness. You Higher Men, do you not smell it? A fragrance is secretly welling up, a scent and aroma of eternity, a fragrance of roseate bliss, a brown, golden wine fragrance of ancient happiness, of intoxicated, midnight’s dying happiness, which sings: The world is deepdeeper than day can comprehend!

 

7

 

Let me be! Let me be! I am too pure for you. Do not touch me! Has my world not just become perfect? My skin is too pure for your hands. Let me be, you stupid, dull, stifling day! Is midnight not brighter? The purest shall be master of the world; the least known, the strongest, the midnight-souled, who are brighter and deeper than any day. 

O day, do you grope for me? Do you feel for my happiness? Do you think me rich, solitary, a buried treasure, a chamber of gold?

O world, do you desire me? Do you think me worldly? Do you think me spiritual? Do you think me divine? But day and world, you are too crude; have cleverer hands, reach out for deeper happiness, for deeper unhappiness, reach out for some god—do not reach for me: my unhappiness, my happiness is deep, you strange day, but I am yet no god, no divine Hell: deep is its woe

 

8

 

God’s woe is deeper, you strange world! Reach out for God’s woe, not for me! What am I? An intoxicated, sweet lyre—a midnight lyre, a guttural bell that nobody understands, but that must speak before the deaf, you Higher Men! For you do not understand me! 

Gone! Gone! Oh youth! Oh noontide! Oh afternoon! Now evening’s come and night and midnight—the dog howls, the wind: is not the wind a dog? It whimpers, it yelps, it howls. Ah! Ah! how it sighs! how it laughs, how it rasps and gasps, the midnight hour! 

How it speaks soberly now, this intoxicated poet! Perhaps it has overdrunk its drunkenness? Perhaps it has grown over-wakeful? Perhaps it ruminates upon its woe in dreams, the ancient, deep midnight hour, and still more upon its joy. For joy, though woe be deep: Joy is deeper than heart’s agony

 

9

 

You grapevine! Why do you praise me! I cut you! I am cruel, you bleed; what does your praise of my intoxicated cruelty mean? 

“What has become perfect, all that is ripe—wants to die!” —thus you speak. Blessed, blessed be the vintner’s knife! But all that is unripe wants to live: alas! 

Woe entreats: Fade! Be gone, woe! But all that suffers wants to live, that it may grow ripe and joyous and passionate, passionate for remoter, higher, brighter things. “I want heirs”—thus speaks all that suffers; “I want children, I do not want myself.” 

Joy, however, does not want heirs or children—joy wants itself, wants eternity, wants recurrence, wants everything eternally the same. 

Woe says: “Break, bleed, heart! Wander, legs! Wings, fly! Upward! Upward, pain!” Very well! Come on! my old heart! Woe implores: “Fade! Go! 

 

10

 

You Higher Men, what do you think? Am I a prophet? A dreamer? A drunkard? A dream interpreter? A midnight bell? A drop of dew? A fragrance and scent of eternity? Do you not hear it? Do you not smell it? My world has just become perfect; midnight is also noonday; woe is also joy; a curse is also a blessing; night is also a sun—be gone, or else you will learn: a wise man is also a fool. 

Have you ever said Yes to a single joy? O my friends, then you said Yes to all woe as well. All things are chained and entangled together, all things are in love; if you ever wanted one thing twice, if you ever said, “You please me, happiness. Abide, moment!” then you wanted everything to return! You wanted everything anew, everything eternal, everything chained, entangled together, everything in love—O that is how you loved the world, you everlasting ones, loved it eternally and for all time; and you say even to woe: “Go, but return!” For all joy wantseternity!

 

 

11

 

All joy wants the eternity of all things, wants honey, wants resin, wants intoxicated midnight, wants graves, wants the solace of graveside tears, wants gilded sunset glow.

What does joy not want? It is thirstier, warmer, hungrier, more fearful, more secret than all woe; it wants itself, it bites into itself, the will of the ring wrestles within it; it wants love, it wants hatred, it is superabundant, bestows, throws away, begs for someone to take it, thanks the taker, it would like to be hated. So rich is its joy that it thirsts for woe, for Hell, for hatred, for disgrace, for the lame, for the world—for it knows, oh it knows this world! 

You Higher Men, joy longs for you, joy the intractable blissful one—for your woe, your failures! All eternal joy longs for failures.

For all joy wants itself, hence it also wants the heart’s agony! O happiness! O woe! O break, my heart! You Higher Men, learn this, learn that joy wants eternity—Joy wants the eternity of all things, wants deep, deep, deep eternity!

 

12

 

Have you now learned my song? Have you divined what it means, its intent? Very well! Come on! You Higher Men, now sing my roundelay!

Now sing yourselves the song whose name is “One More Time” [“Once More”], whose meaning is “To all eternity!”—sing, you Higher Men, Zarathustra’s roundelay! 

 

O Man, Attend!

What does the deep midnight’s voice declare [contend]? 

“I slept my sleep, 

And now awake at dreaming’s end:

The world is deep,

Deeper than the day can comprehend.

Deep is its woe;

Joy—deeper than heart’s agony:

Woe implores: Fade! Go!

But all joy wants eternity,

Wants deep, deep, deep eternity.” 

 

 

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 This penultimate chapter from Thus Spoke Zarathustra is transcribed by the Gypsy Scholar from two (sometimes three) different translations of the book in an effort to get the best rendering of the sense of the meaning conveyed; thus the bracketed alternate words when the option was equally meaningful (as in “deep midnight’s voice declare [contend]”) The variations of words in each text were numerous; indeed even the chapter titles varied, such as “Intoxicated Song,” “Drunken Song”, “Nightwanderer’s Song”. My optimum choice here would have been “The Nightwanderer’s Intoxicated Song”.