Ecce Homo

Page 27 of 30

[1] Translated by Herman Scheffauer.

[2] Translated by Herman Scheffauer.

[3] This poem was written on the betrothal of one of Nietzsche's Ble friends.—TR.

[4] Translated by Herman Scheffauer.

[5] Campo Santo di Staglieno is the cemetery of Staglieno, near Genoa. The poem was inspired by the sight of a girl with a lamb on the tombstone, with the words underneath— "Pia, caritatevole, amorosissima."

[6] Published by Nietzsche himself. The poem was inspired by a ship that was christened Angiolina, in memory of a love-sick girl who leapt into the sea.—TR.

[7] See above, p. 157. Both poems were inspired by the same tombstone.—TR.

[8] The Genoese is Nietzsche himself, who lived a great part of his life at Genoa.—TR.

[9] Translated by Herman Scheffauer.



He who cannot laugh at this had better not start reading;

For if he read and do not laugh, physic he'll be needing!


With jesters it is good to jest:
Who likes to tickle, is tickled best.


I dearly love the living word,
That flies to you like a merry bird,
Ready with pleasant nod to greet,
E'en in misfortune welcome, sweet,
Yet it has blood, can pant you deep:
Then to the dove's ear it will creep:
And curl itself, or start for flight—
Whate'er it does, it brings delight.

Yet tender doth the word remain,
[Pg 166]Soon it is ill, soon well again:
So if its little life you'd spare,
O grasp it lightly and with care,
Nor heavy hand upon it lay,
For e'en a cruel glance would slay!
There it would lie, unsouled, poor thing!
All stark, all formless, and all cold,
Its little body changed and battered,
By death and dying rudely shattered.

A dead word is a hateful thing,
A barren, rattling, ting-ting-ting.
A curse on ugly trades I cry
That doom all little words to die!


A Book

You'll ne'er go on nor yet go back?
Is e'en for chamois here no track?

So here I wait and firmly clasp
What eye and hand will let me grasp!

Five-foot-broad ledge, red morning's breath,
And under me—world, man, and death!


This is no book—for such, who looks?
Coffins and shrouds, naught else, are books!
What's dead and gone they make their prey,
[Pg 167]Yet in my book lives fresh To-day.

This is no book—for such, who looks?
Who cares for coffins, shrouds, and spooks?
This is a promise, an act of will,
A last bridge-breaking, for good or ill;
A wind from sea, an anchor light,
A whirr of wheels, a steering right.
The cannon roars, white smokes its flame,
The sea—the monster—laughs and scents its game.


He who has much to tell, keeps much
Silent and unavowed.
He who with lightning-flash would touch
Must long remain a cloud!


Is this your Book of Sacred Lore,
For blessing, cursing, and such uses?—
Come, come now: at the very door
God some one else's wife seduces?


"O Peuple des meillures Tartuffes,
To you I'm true, I wis."
He spoke, but in the swiftest skiff
[Pg 168]Went to Cosmopolis.


A fool this honest Britisher
Was not ... But a Philosopher!
As that you really rate him?
Set Darwin up by Goethe's side?
But majesty you thus deride—
Genii majestatem!


(Toast Question of a Water-Drinker)

What you have builded, yonder inn,
O'ertops all houses high:
The posset you have brewed therein
The world will ne'er drink dry.
The bird that once appeared on earth
As phnix, is your, guest.
The mouse that gave a mountain birth
Is you yourself confessed!
You're all and naught, you're inn and wine,
You're phnix, mountain, mouse.
Back to yourself to come you pine
Or fly from out your house.
Downward from every height you've sunk,
And in the depths still shine:
The drunkenness of all the drunk,
[Pg 169]Why do you ask for—wine?


Of "All in One" a fervent devotee
Amore Dei, of reasoned piety,
Doff shoes! A land thrice holy this must be!—
Yet underneath this love there sate
A torch of vengeance, burning secretly
The Hebrew God was gnawed by Hebrew hate.
Hermit! Do I aright interpret thee?


That which he taught, has had its day,
That which he lived, shall live for aye:
Look at the man! No bondsman he!
Nor e'er to mortal bowed his knee!


O You who chafe at every fetter's link,
A restless spirit, never free:
Who, though victorious aye, in bonds still cowered,
Disgusted more and more, and flayed and scoured,
Till from each cup of balm you poison drink,
Alas! and by the Cross all helpless sink,
You too, you too, among the overpowered!

For long I watched this play so weirdly shaped,
Breathing an air of prison, vault, and dread,
With churchly fragrance, clouds of incense spread,
And yet I found all strange/in terror gaped.
But now I throw my fool's cap o'er my head,
[Pg 170]For I escaped!


All that my eagle e'er saw clear,
I see and feel in heart to-day
(Although my hope was wan and gray)
Thy song like arrow pierced mine ear,
A balm to touch, a balm to hear,
As down from heaven it winged its way.

So now for lands of southern fire
To happy isles where Grecian nymphs hold sport!
Thither now turn the ship's desire—
No ship e'er sped to fairer port.


A riddle here—can you the answer scent?
"When man discovers, woman must invent."——


You stole, your eye's not clear to-day.
You only stole a thought, sir? nay,
Why be so rudely modest, pray?
Here, take another handful—stay,
Take all I have, you swine—you may
Eat till your filth is purged away.


Be of good cheer,
Friend Yorick! If this thought gives pain,
[Pg 171]As now it does, I fear,
Is it not "God"? And though in error lain,
'Tis but your own dear child,
Your flesh and blood,
That tortures you and gives you pain,
Your little rogue and do-no-good,
See if the rod will change its mood!

In brief, friend Yorick, leave that drear
Philosophy—and let me now
Whisper one word as medicine,
My own prescription, in your ear,
My remedy against such spleen—
"Who loves his God, chastises him, I ween,"


I should be wise to suit my mood,
Not at the beck of other men:
God made as stupid as he could
The world—well, let me praise him then.

And if I make not straight my track,
But, far as may be, wind and bend,
That's how the sage begins his tack,
And that is how the fool will—end.

*    *    *    *    *

The world stands never still,
Night loves the glowing day—
Sweet sounds to ear "I will!"
[Pg 172]And sweeter still "I may!"


Addressing me most bashfully,
A woman to-day said this:
"What would you be like in ecstasy,
If sober you feel such bliss?"


Laughter is a serious art.
I would do it better daily.
Did I well to-day or no?
Came the spark right from the heart?
Little use though head wag gaily,
If the heart contain no glow.

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