【P4C19】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 closer and closer 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 to him.

“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 my entire life.

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, has taught me to love the earth.

‘Was that- life?’ will I say to death. ‘Well! Once more!’

My friends, what think ye? Will you not, like me, say to death: ‘Was that- life? For the sake of Zarathustra, well! Once more!’”- -

Thus spoke 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, honoring, 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 aphorism of Zarathustra says: “What does 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 stands written, “‘twixt two seas,

-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 honoring 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 said: “Come!”

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!


You higher men, it is getting on to midnight: then will I say something into your ears, as that old clock-bell says it into my ear,-

-As mysteriously, as frightfully, and as cordially as that midnight clock-bell speaks it to me, which has experienced more than one man:

-Which has already counted the smarting throbbings of your fathers’ hearts- ah! ah! how it sighs! how it laughs in its dream! the old, deep, deep midnight!

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 has become still,-

-Now does it speak, now is it heard, now does it steal into overwakeful, nocturnal souls: ah! ah! how the midnight sighs! how it laughs in its dream!

-Hear you not how it mysteriously, frightfully, and cordially speaks to you, the old deep, deep midnight?

O man, take heed!


Woe to me! Where has time gone? Have I not sunk into deep wells? The world sleeps-

Ah! Ah! The dog howls, the moon shins. Rather will I die, rather will I die, than say to you what my midnight-heart now thinks.

Already have I died. It is all over. Spider, why spin you around me? Will you have blood? Ah! Ah! The dew falls, the hour comes-

-The hour in which I frost and freeze, which asks and asks and asks: “Who has sufficient courage for it?

-Who is to be master of the world? Who is going to say: Thus shall you flow, you great and small streams!”

-The hour approaches: O man, you higher man, take heed! this talk is for fine ears, for your ears- what says deep midnight’s voice indeed?


It carries me away, my soul dances. Day’s-work! Day’s-work! Who is to be master of the world?

The moon is cool, the wind is still. Ah! Ah! Have you already flown high enough? You have danced: a leg, nevertheless, is not a wing.

You good dancers, now is all delight over: wine has become lees, every cup has become brittle, the sepulchres mutter.

You have not flown high enough: now do the sepulchres mutter: “Free the dead! Why is it so long night? does not the moon make us drunken?”

You higher men, free the sepulchres, awaken the corpses! Ah, why does the worm still burrow? There approaches, there approaches, the hour,-

-There booms the clock-bell, there thrills still the heart, there burrows still the wood-worm, the heart-worm. Ah! Ah! The world is deep!


Sweet lyre! Sweet lyre! I love your tone, your drunken, ranunculine tone!- how long, how far has come to me your tone, from the distance, from the ponds of love!

You old clock-bell, you sweet lyre! Every pain has torn your heart, father-pain, fathers’-pain, forefathers’-pain; your speech has become ripe,-

-Ripe like the golden autumn and the afternoon, like my hermit heartnow say you: The world itself has become ripe, the grape turns brown,

-Now does it wish to die, to die of happiness. You higher men, do you not feel it? There wells up mysteriously an odour,

-A perfume and odour of eternity, a rosy-blessed, brown, gold-wineodour of old happiness.

-Of drunken midnight-death happiness, which sings: the world is deep, and deeper than the day could read!


Leave me alone! Leave me alone! I am too pure for you. Touch me not! has not my world just now become perfect?

My skin is too pure for your hands. Leave me alone, you 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, you grope for me? you feel for my happiness? For you am I rich, lonesome, a treasure-pit, a gold chamber?

O world, you want me? Am I worldly for you? Am I spiritual for you? Am I divine for you? But day and world, you are too coarse,-

-Have cleverer hands, grasp after deeper happiness, after deeper unhappiness, grasp after some God; grasp not after me:

-My unhappiness, my happiness is deep, you strange day, but yet am I no God, no God’s-hell: deep is its woe.


God’s woe is deeper, you 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 understands, but which must speak before deaf ones, you higher men! For you do not understand me!

Gone! Gone! O youth! O noontide! O afternoon! Now have come evening and night and midnight,- the dog howls, the wind:

-Is the wind not a dog? It whines, it barks, it howls. Ah! Ah! how she sighs! how she laughs, how she wheezes and pants, the midnight!

How she just now speaks soberly, this drunken poetess! has she perhaps overdrunk her drunkenness? has she become overawake? does she ruminate?

-Her woe does 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.


You grape-vine! Why do you praise me? Have I not cut you! I am cruel, you bleedest-: what means your praise of my drunken cruelty?

“Whatever has become perfect, everything mature- wants to die!” so say you. Blessed, blessed be the vintner’s knife! But everything immature wants to live: alas!

Woe says: “Hence! Go! Away, you woe!” But everything that suffers wants to live, that it may become mature and lively and longing,

-Longing for the further, the higher, the brighter. “I want heirs,” so says everything that suffers, “I want children, I do not want myself,”-

Joy, however, does not want heirs, it does not want children,- joy wants itself, it wants eternity, it wants recurrence, it wants everything eternally-like-itself.

Woe says: “Break, bleed, you heart! Wander, you leg! you wing, fly! Onward! upward! you pain!” Well! Cheer up! O my old heart: Woe says: “Hence! Go!”


You 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 you it not? Smell you it not? Just now has 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 you will learn that a sage is also a fool.

Said you ever Yes to one joy? O my friends, then said you Yes also to all woe. All things are enlinked, enlaced and enamoured,-

-Wanted you ever once to come twice; said you ever: “You please me, happiness! Instant! Moment!” then wanted you all to come back again!

-All anew, all eternal, all enlinked, enlaced and enamoured, Oh, then did you love the world,-

-You eternal ones, you love it eternally and for all time: and also to woe do you say: Hence! Go! but come back! For joys all want- eternity!


All joy wants the eternity of all things, it wants honey, it wants lees, it wants drunken midnight, it wants graves, it wants grave-tears’ consolation, it wants gilded evening-red-

-What does not joy want! it is thirstier, heartier, hungrier, more frightful, more mysterious, than all woe: it wants itself, it bites into itself, the ring’s will wriths in it,-

-It wants love, it wants hate, it is over-rich, it gives, it throws away, it begs for some one to take from it, it thanks the taker, it would rather be hated,-

-So rich is joy that it thirsts for woe, for hell, for hate, for shame, for the lame, for the world,- for this world, Oh, you know it indeed!

You higher men, for you does it long, this joy, this irrepressible, blessed joy- for your woe, you failures! For failures, longs all eternal joy.

For joys all want themselves, therefore do they also want grief! O happiness, O pain! Oh break, you heart! You higher men, do learn it, that joys want eternity.

-Joys want the eternity of all things, they want deep, profound eternity!


Have you now learned my song? Have you divined what it would say? Well! Cheer up! You higher men, sing now my roundelay!

Sing now yourselves the song, the name of which is “Once more,” the signification of which is “To all eternity!”- sing, you higher men, Zarathustra’s roundelay!

O man! Take heed!

What says deep midnight’s voice indeed?

“I slept my sleep-, “From deepest dream I’ve woke, and plead:”The world is deep, “And deeper than the day could read.

“Deep is its woe-, “Joy- deeper still than grief can be:

“Woe says: Hence! Go!

“But joys all want eternity-, “-Want deep, profound eternity!”