(1844 - 1900)
Thus Spake Zarathustra
sublime one saw I today, a solemn one, a penitent of the
spirit: Oh, how my soul laughed at his ugliness! (thus
79.The Drunken Song
MEANWHILE one after another
had gone out into the open air, and into the cool, thoughtful
night; Zarathustra himself, however, led the ugliest man by
the hand, that he might show him his night-world, and the
great round moon, and the silvery water-falls near his cave.
There they at last stood still beside one another; all of
them old people, but with comforted, brave hearts, and astonished
in themselves that it was so well with them on earth; the
mystery of the night, however, came nigher and nigher to their
hearts. And anew Zarathustra thought to himself: "Oh,
how well do they now please me, these higher men!"but
he did not say it aloud, for he respected their happiness
and their silence.Then, however, there happened that which
in this astonishing long day was most astonishing: the ugliest
man began once more and for the last time to gurgle and snort,
and when he had at length found expression, behold! there
sprang a question plump and plain out of his mouth, a good,
deep, clear question, which moved the hearts of all who listened
"My friends, all of you,"
said the ugliest man, "what think ye? For the sake of
this day- I am for the first time content to have lived mine
And that I testify so much
is still not enough for me. It is worth while living on the
earth: one day, one festival with Zarathustra, hath taught
me to love the earth.
'Was that- life?' will I say
unto death. 'Well! Once more!'
My friends, what think ye?
Will ye not, like me, say unto death: 'Was that- life? For
the sake of Zarathustra, well! Once more!'"- Thus spake
the ugliest man; it was not, however, far from midnight. And
what took place then, think ye? As soon as the higher men
heard his question, they became all at once conscious of their
transformation and convalescence, and of him who was the cause
thereof: then did they rush up to Zarathustra, thanking, honouring,
caressing him, and kissing his hands, each in his own peculiar
way; so that some laughed and some wept. The old soothsayer,
however, danced with delight; and though he was then, as some
narrators suppose, full of sweet wine, he was certainly still
fuller of sweet life, and had renounced all weariness. There
are even those who narrate that the ass then danced: for not
in vain had the ugliest man previously given it wine to drink.
That may be the case, or it may be otherwise; and if in truth
the ass did not dance that evening, there nevertheless happened
then greater and rarer wonders than the dancing of an ass
would have been. In short, as the proverb of Zarathustra saith:
"What doth it matter!"
When, however, this took place
with the ugliest man, Zarathustra stood there like one drunken:
his glance dulled, his tongue faltered and his feet staggered.
And who could divine what thoughts then passed through Zarathustra's
soul? Apparently, however, his spirit retreated and fled in
advance and was in remote distances, and as it were "wandering
on high mountain-ridges," as it standeth written, "'twixt
-Wandering 'twixt the past
and the future as a heavy cloud." Gradually, however,
while the higher men held him in their arms, he came back
to himself a little, and resisted with his hands the crowd
of the honouring and caring ones; but he did not speak. All
at once, however, he turned his head quickly, for he seemed
to hear something: then laid he his finger on his mouth and
And immediately it became still
and mysterious round about; from the depth however there came
up slowly the sound of a clock-bell. Zarathustra listened
thereto, like the higher men; then, however, laid he his finger
on his mouth the second time, and said again: "Come!
Come! It is getting on to midnight!"- and his voice had
changed. But still he had not moved from the spot. Then it
became yet stiller and more mysterious, and everything hearkened,
even the ass, and Zarathustra's noble animals, the eagle and
the serpent,- likewise the cave of Zarathustra and the big
cool moon, and the night itself. Zarathustra, however, laid
his hand upon his mouth for the third time, and said:
Come! Come! Come! Let us now
wander! It is the hour: let us wander into the night!
Ye higher men, it is getting
on to midnight: then will I say something into your ears,
as that old clock-bell saith it into mine ear,-As mysteriously,
as frightfully, and as cordially as that midnight clock-bell
speaketh it to me, which hath experienced more than one man:
-Which hath already counted
the smarting throbbings of your fathers' hearts- ah! ah! how
it sigheth! how it laugheth in its dream! the old, deep, deep
Hush! Hush! Then is there many
a thing heard which may not be heard by day; now however,
in the cool air, when even all the tumult of your hearts hath
become still,-Now doth it speak, now is it heard, now doth
it steal into overwakeful, nocturnal souls: ah! ah! how the
midnight sigheth! how it laugheth in its dream!
-Hearest thou not how it mysteriously,
frightfully, and cordially speaketh unto thee, the old deep,
O man, take heed!
Woe to me! Whither hath time
gone? Have I not sunk into deep wells? The world sleepethAh!
Ah! The dog howleth, the moon shineth. Rather will I die,
rather will I die, than say unto you what my midnight-heart
Already have I died. It is
all over. Spider, why spinnest thou around me? Wilt thou have
blood? Ah! Ah! The dew falleth, the hour cometh-The hour in
which I frost and freeze, which asketh and asketh and asketh:
"Who hath sufficient courage for it?
-Who is to be master of the
world? Who is going to say: Thus shall ye flow, ye great and
-The hour approacheth: O man,
thou higher man, take heed! this talk is for fine ears, for
thine ears- what saith deep midnight's voice indeed?
It carrieth me away, my soul
danceth. Day's-work! Day's-work! Who is to be master of the
The moon is cool, the wind
is still. Ah! Ah! Have ye already flown high enough? Ye have
danced: a leg, nevertheless, is not a wing.
Ye good dancers, now is all
delight over: wine hath become lees, every cup hath become
brittle, the sepulchres mutter.
Ye have not flown high enough:
now do the sepulchres mutter: "Free the dead! Why is
it so long night? Doth not the moon make us drunken?"
Ye higher men, free the sepulchres,
awaken the corpses! Ah, why doth the worm still burrow? There
approacheth, there approacheth, the hour,-There boometh the
clock-bell, there thrilleth still the heart, there burroweth
still the wood-worm, the heart-worm. Ah! Ah! The world is
Sweet lyre! Sweet lyre! I love
thy tone, thy drunken, ranunculine tone!- how long, how far
hath come unto me thy tone, from the distance, from the ponds
Thou old clock-bell, thou sweet
lyre! Every pain hath torn thy heart, father-pain, fathers'-pain,
forefathers'-pain; thy speech hath become ripe,-Ripe like
the golden autumn and the afternoon, like mine anchorite heart-
now sayest thou: The world itself hath become ripe, the grape
-Now doth it wish to die, to
die of happiness. Ye higher men, do ye not feel it? There
welleth up mysteriously an odour,
-A perfume and odour of eternity,
a rosy-blessed, brown, gold-wine-odour of old happiness.
-Of drunken midnight-death
happiness, which singeth: the world is deep, and deeper than
the day could read!
Leave me alone! Leave me alone!
I am too pure for thee. Touch me not! Hath not my world just
now become perfect?
My skin is too pure for thy
hands. Leave me alone, thou dull, doltish, stupid day! Is
not the midnight brighter?
The purest are to be masters
of the world, the least known, the strongest, the midnight-souls,
who are brighter and deeper than any day.
O day, thou gropest for me?
Thou feelest for my happiness? For thee am I rich, lonesome,
a treasure-pit, a gold chamber?
O world, thou wantest me? Am
I worldly for thee? Am I spiritual for thee? Am I divine for
thee? But day and world, ye are too coarse,-Have cleverer
hands, grasp after deeper happiness, after deeper unhappiness,
grasp after some God; grasp not after me:
-Mine unhappiness, my happiness
is deep, thou strange day, but yet am I no God, no God's-hell:
deep is its woe.
God's woe is deeper, thou strange
world! Grasp at God's woe, not at me! What am I! A drunken
sweet lyre,-A midnight-lyre, a bell-frog, which no one understandeth,
but which must speak before deaf ones, ye higher men! For
ye do not understand me!
Gone! Gone! O youth! O noontide!
O afternoon! Now have come evening and night and midnight,-
the dog howleth, the wind:
-Is the wind not a dog? It
whineth, it barketh, it howleth. Ah! Ah! how she sigheth!
how she laugheth, how she wheezeth and panteth, the midnight!
How she just now speaketh soberly,
this drunken poetess! hath she perhaps overdrunk her drunkenness?
hath she become overawake? doth she ruminate?
-Her woe doth she ruminate
over, in a dream, the old, deep midnightand still more her
joy. For joy, although woe be deep, joy is deeper still than
grief can be.
Thou grape-vine! Why dost thou
praise me? Have I not cut thee! I am cruel, thou bleedest-:
what meaneth thy praise of my drunken cruelty?
"Whatever hath become
perfect, everything mature- wanteth to die!" so sayest
thou. Blessed, blessed be the vintner's knife! But everything
immature wanteth to live: alas!
Woe saith: "Hence! Go!
Away, thou woe!" But everything that suffereth wanteth
to live, that it may become mature and lively and longing,
-Longing for the further, the
higher, the brighter. "I want heirs," so saith everything
that suffereth, "I want children, I do not want myself,"Joy,
however, doth not want heirs, it doth not want children,-
joy wanteth itself, it wanteth eternity, it wanteth recurrence,
it wanteth everything eternally-like-itself.
Woe saith: "Break, bleed,
thou heart! Wander, thou leg! Thou wing, fly! Onward! upward!
thou pain!" Well! Cheer up! O mine old heart: Woe saith:
Ye higher men, what think ye?
Am I a soothsayer? Or a dreamer? Or a drunkard? Or a dream-reader?
Or a midnight-bell?
Or a drop of dew? Or a fume
and fragrance of eternity? Hear ye it not? Smell ye it not?
Just now hath my world become perfect, midnight is also mid-day,Pain
is also a joy, curse is also a blessing, night is also a sun,-
go away! or ye will learn that a sage is also a fool.
Said ye ever Yea to one joy?
O my friends, then said ye Yea also unto all woe. All things
are enlinked, enlaced and enamoured,-Wanted ye ever once to
come twice; said ye ever: "Thou pleasest me, happiness!
Instant! Moment!" then wanted ye all to come back again!
-All anew, all eternal, all
enlinked, enlaced and enamoured, Oh, then did ye love the
world,-Ye eternal ones, ye love it eternally and for all time:
and also unto woe do ye say: Hence! Go! but come back! For
joys all wanteternity!
All joy wanteth the eternity
of all things, it wanteth honey, it wanteth lees, it wanteth
drunken midnight, it wanteth graves, it wanteth grave-tears'
consolation, it wanteth gilded evening-red-What doth not joy
want! it is thirstier, heartier, hungrier, more frightful,
more mysterious, than all woe: it wanteth itself, it biteth
into itself, the ring's will writheth in it,-It wanteth love,
it wanteth hate, it is over-rich, it bestoweth, it throweth
away, it beggeth for some one to take from it, it thanketh
the taker, it would fain be hated,-So rich is joy that it
thirsteth for woe, for hell, for hate, for shame, for the
lame, for the world,- for this world, Oh, ye know it indeed!
Ye higher men, for you doth
it long, this joy, this irrepressible, blessed joy- for your
woe, ye failures! For failures, longeth all eternal joy.
For joys all want themselves,
therefore do they also want grief! O happiness, O pain! Oh
break, thou heart! Ye higher men, do learn it, that joys want
-Joys want the eternity of
all things, they want deep, profound eternity!
Have ye now learned my song?
Have ye divined what it would say? Well! Cheer up! Ye higher
men, sing now my roundelay!
Sing now yourselves the song,
the name of which is "Once more," the signification
of which is "Unto all eternity!"- sing, ye higher
men, Zarathustra's roundelay!
O man! Take heed!
What saith deep midnight's
"I slept my sleep-,
"From deepest dream I've
woke, and plead:
"The world is deep,
"And deeper than the day
"Deep is its woe-,
"Joy- deeper still than
grief can be:
"Woe saith: Hence! Go!
"But joys all want eternity-,
"-Want deep, profound
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science