The Song of Melancholy
“The day is fading away, evening is now coming to all things, even to the best things:
hear then and see, you higher men, what kind of devil, whether man or woman, this spirit of evening melancholy is!”
Thus spoke the old magician, looked around cunningly, and then reached for his harp.
In dim, de-lighted air
When the dew’s comfort is beginning
To well down to the earth,
Unseen, unheard —
For tender is the footwear of
The comforter dew, as of all that gently comfort —
Do you remember then, remember, hot heart,
How you thirsted once
For heavenly tears and dripping dew,
Thirsting, scorched and weary,
While on yellow paths in the grass
The glances of the evening sun were running
Maliciously around you through black trees —
Blinding, glowing glances of the sun, mocking your pain?
“Suitor of truth?” they mocked me; “you?
No! Only poet!
An animal, cunning, preying, prowling,
That must lie,
That must knowingly, willingly lie:
Lusting for prey,
A mask for itself,
Prey for itself —
This, the suitor of truth?
No! Only fool! Only poet!
Only speaking colorfully,
Only screaming colorfully out of fools’ masks,
Climbing around on mendacious word bridges,
On colorful rainbows,
Between false heavens
And false earths, Roaming, hovering —
Only fool! Only poet!
This—the suitor of truth?
Not still, stiff, smooth, cold,
Become a statue,
A pillar of God,
Not placed before temples,
A god’s gate guard —
No! an enemy of all such truth statues,
More at home in any desert than before temples,
Full of cats’ prankishness,
Leaping through every window —
Swish! into every chance,
Sniffing for every jungle,
Eagerly, longingly sniffing:
That in jungles
Among colorfully speckled beasts of prey
You might roam, sinfully sound and colorful, beautiful
With lusting lips,
Blissfully mocking, blissfully hellish, blissfully bloodthirsty —
Preying, prowling, peering —
Or like the eagle that gazes long,
Long with fixed eyes into abysses,
His own abysses —
Oh, how they wind downward,
Lower and lower
And into ever deeper depths!—
Suddenly, straight as sight
In brandished flight,
Pounce on lambs,
Abruptly down, hot-hungry,
Lusting for lambs,
Hating all lamb souls,
Grimly hating whatever looks
Sheepish, lamb-eyed, curly-wooled,
Gray, with lambs’ and sheeps’ goodwill.
Are the poet’s longings,
Are your longings under a thousand masks,
You fool! You poet!
You that have seen man
As god and sheep:
Tearing to pieces the god in man
No less than the sheep in man,
And laughing while tearing —
This, this is your bliss!
A panther’s and eagle’s bliss!
A poet’s and fool’s bliss!”
In dim, de-lighted air
When the moon’s sickle is beginning
To creep, green between crimson
Hating the day,
Secretly step for step
Scything at sloping rose meads
Till they sink and, ashen,
Drown in night—
Thus I myself once sank
Out of my truth-madness,
Out of my day-longings,
Weary of day, sick from the light—
Sank downward, evening-ward, shadow-ward,
Burned by one truth,
Do you remember still, remember, hot heart,
How you thirsted?
That I be banished
From all truth,