The Dancing Song


Into your eyes I looked recently, 0 life !
And into the unfathomable I then seemed to be sinking.
But you pulled me out with a golden fishing rod;
and you laughed mockingly when I called you unfathomable.

“Thus runs the speech of all fish,” you said; “what they do not fathom is unfathomable. But I am merely changeable and wild and a woman in every way, and not virtuous – even if you men call me profound, faithful, eternal, and mysterious. But you men always present us with your own virtues, 0 you virtuous men.”

Thus she laughed, the incredible one;
but I never believe her and her laughter when she speaks ill of herself.

And when I talked in confidence with my wild wisdom she said to me in anger, “You will, you want, you love — that is the only reason why you praise life.” Then I almost answered wickedly and told the angry woman the truth;
and there is no more wicked answer than telling one’s wisdom the truth.

For thus matters stand among the three of us: Deeply I love only life – and verily, most of all when I hate life. But that I am well disposed toward wisdom, and often too well, that is because she reminds me so much of life. She has her eyes, her laugh, and even her little golden fishing rod: is it my fault that the two look so similar?

And when life once asked me, ”Who is this wisdom?'” I answered fervently, “Oh yes, wisdom! One thirsts after her and is never satisfied; one looks through veils, one grabs through nets. Is she beautiful? How should I know? But even the oldest carps are baited with her. She is changeable and stubborn; often I have seen her bite her lip and comb her hair against the grain. Perhaps she is evil and false and a female in every way; but just when she speaks ill of herself she is most seductive.”

When I said this to life she laughed sarcastically and closed her eyes.” Of whom are you speaking?” she asked; “no doubt, of me. And even if you are right – should that be said to my face? But now speak of your wisdom too.”

Ah, and then you opened your eyes again, 0 beloved life.
And again I seemed to myself to be sinking into the unfathomable.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra , Part II
Walter Kaufmann translation from


The Magician’s Dancing Souls

Juaneco: Ya se ha muerto mi abuelo

Thus sang the magician; and all who were gathered there went unwittingly as birds into the net of his cunning and melancholy lust. Only the conscientious in spirit was not caught: quickly he took the harp away from the magician and cried: “Air! Let in good air! Let in Zarathustra! You are making this cave sultry and poisonous, you wicked old magician. You are seducing us, you false and subtle one, to unknown desires and wildernesses. And beware when such as you start making speeches and fuss about truth! Woe unto all free spirits who do not watch out against such magicians! Then it is over with their freedom: you teach us and lure us back into prisons. You old melancholy devil: out of your lament a bird call lures us; you are like those whose praise of chastity secretly invites to voluptuous delights.” Thus spoke the conscientious man; but the old magician looked around, enjoyed his triumph, and for its sake swallowed the annoyance caused him by the conscientious man. “Be still!” he said in a modest voice; “good songs want to resound well; after good songs one should long keep still. Thus do all these higher men. But perhaps you have understood very little of my song? In you there is little of a magic spirit.” “You praise me by distinguishing me from yourself,” retorted the conscientious man. “Well then! But you others, what do I see? You are all still sitting there with lusting eyes: you free souls, where is your freedom gone? You are almost like men, it seems to me, who have long watched wicked, dancing, naked girls: your souls are dancing too. In you, you higher men, there must be more of what the magician calls his evil spirit of magic and deception: we must be different.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra , Part IV
Walter Kaufmann translation from

Only Fool! Only Poet!

Melancholy Song
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,
Colorfully masked,
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.

Eagle-like, panther-like,
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
Reds, enviously—
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,
And thirsty:
Do you remember still, remember, hot heart,
How you thirsted?
That I be banished
From all truth,
Only fool!
Only poet!

DithyrambThus Spoke Zarathustra , Part IV
Walter Kaufmann translation from

On the Higher Man



It is not enough for me that lightning no longer does any harm. I do not wish to conduct it away: it shall learn to work for me. My wisdom has long gathered like a cloud; it is becoming stiller and darker. Thus does every wisdom that is yet to give birth to lightning bolts. For these men of today I do not wish to be light, or to be called light. These I wish to blind. Lightning of my wisdom! put out their eyes!

Thus Spoke Zarathustra , Part IV
Walter Kaufmann translation from