THE SONG OF MELANCHOLY

 

(From Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

 

 

1

 

ZARATHUSTRA was standing near the door of his cave as he spoke this discourse; with the final words, however, he escaped from his guests and fled for a short while into the open air.

'Oh pure odours around me,' he exclaimed, 'oh blissful stillness around me I But where are my animals? Come here, come here, my eagle and my serpent!

'Tell me, my animals: all these Higher Men—do they perhaps not smell well? Oh pure odours around me! Only now do I know and feel how I love you animals. '

And Zarathustra said once more: 'I love you, mine animals!' The eagle, however, and the serpent pressed close to him when he said these words, and looked up at him. In this attitude were they all three silent together, and sniffed and sipped the good air with one another. For the air here outside was better than with the Higher Men.

 

 

2

 

Hardly had Zarathustra left his cave, however, when the old sorcerer got up, looked cunningly around, and said: He has gone out!

And already, you Higher Men—if I may tickle you with this name of praise and flattery, as he does—already my evil spirit of deceit and sorcery attacks me, my melancholy devil, who is an adversary of this Zarathustra from the very heart: forgive him for it! Now he insists on working charms before you, now he has his hour; I wrestle in vain with this evil spirit.

To all of you, whatever honours you may bestow upon yourselves with words, whether you call yourselves' the free spirits' or 'the truthful' or' the penitents of the spirit' or 'the unfettered' or 'the great desirers', to all of you, like me, suffer from the great disgust, for whom the old God has died and as yet no new God lies in cradles and swaddling clothes—to all of you is my evil spirit and sorcery-devil well-disposed.

I know you, Higher Men, I know him—I also know this demon whom I love despite myself, this Zarathustra: he himself often seems to me like the beautiful mask of a saint, like a strange, new masquerade in which my evil spirit, the melancholy devil, takes pleasure—I love Zarathustra, so I often think, for the sake of my evil spirit.

But already he is attacking me and compelling me, this spirit of melancholy, this evening-twilight devil: and truly, you Higher Men, he has a desire—just open your eyes!—he has a desire to come naked,  whether as man or woman I do not yet know: but he is coming, he is compelling me, alas! Open your senses!

Day is fading away, now evening is coming to all things, even to the best things; listen now, and see, you Higher Men, what devil, whether man or woman, this spirit of evening melancholy is!

 

Thus spoke the old sorcerer, looked cunningly around and then seized his harp.

 

 

3

 

When the air grows clear,

When the dew's comfort

Rains down upon the earth,

Invisible and unheard —

For dew the comforter

Wears tender shoes like all that gently comforts:

Do you then remember, do you, hot heart,

How once you thirsted

For heavenly tears and dew showers,

Thirsted, scorched and weary,

While on yellow grassy paths

Wicked evening sunlight-glances

Ran about you through dark trees,

Blinding, glowing sunlight-glances, malicious?

 

'The wooer of truth? You?' — so they jeered —

'No! Only a poet!

An animal, cunning, preying, creeping,

That has to lie,

That knowingly, wilfully has to lie:

Lusting for prey,

Motley-masked,

A mask to itself,

A prey to itself —

That — the wooer of truth?

No! Only a fool! Only a poet!

Only speaking motley,

Crying out of fools-masks,

Stalking around on deceitful word-bridges,

On motley rainbows,

Between a false heaven

And a false earth,

Soaring, hovering about —

Only a fool! Only a poet!

 

That — the wooer of truth?

Not still, stiff, smooth, cold,

Become an image,

Become a god's statue,

Not set up before temples,

A god's watchman:

No! enemy to such statues of truth,

More at home in any wilderness than before temples,

Full of cat's wantonness,

Leaping through every window,

Swiftly! into every chance,

Sniffing out every jungle,

Sniffing with greedy longing,

That you may run,

Sinfully-healthy and motley and fair,

In jungles among motley-speckled beasts of prey,

Run with lustful lips,

Happily jeering, happily hellish, happily blood-thirsty,

Preying, creeping, lying:

 

Or like the eagle staring

Long, long into abysses,

Into its abysses:

Oh how they circle down,

Under and in,

Into ever deeper depths!

Then,

Suddenly, with straight aim,

Quivering flight,

They pounce on lambs,

Headlong down, ravenous,

 

Lusting for lambs,

Angry at all lamb-souls,

Fiercely angry at all that look

Sheepish, lamb-eyed, curly-woolled,

Grey with lamb-sheep kindliness!

 

Thus,

Eaglelike, pantherlike,

Are the poet's desires,

Are your desires under a thousand masks,

You fooll You poet!

 

You saw man

As God and sheep:

To rend the God in man

As the sheep in man,

And in rending to laugh

 

That, that is your blessedness!

A panther's and eagle's blessedness!

A poet's and fool's blessedness!'

 

When the air grows clear,

When the moon's sickle

Creeps along, green,

Envious, in the purple twilight:

Enemy to day,

With every step secretly

Sickling down

The hanging rose-gardens,

Until they sink,

Sink down, pale, down to night:

 

So sank I once

From my delusion of truth,

From my daytime longings,

Weary of day, sick with light,

Sank downwards, down to evening, down to shadows:

Scorched and thirsty

With one truth:

Do you remember, do you, hot heart,

How you thirsted then?

That I am banished

From all truth,

Only a fool!

Only a poet!