【P4C14】The Song of Melancholy


When Zarathustra spoke these sayings, he stood nigh to the entrance of his cave; with the last words, however, he slipped away from his guests, and fled for a little while into the open air.

“O pure odours around me,” cried he, “O blessed stillness around me! But where are my animals? Here, here, my eagle and my serpent!

Tell me, my animals: these higher men, all of them- do they perhaps not smell well? O pure odours around me! Now only do I know and feel how I love you, my animals.”

-And Zarathustra said once more: “I love you, my animals!” The eagle, however, and the serpent pressed close to him when he spoke these words, and looked up to him. In this attitude were they all three silent together, and sniffed and sipped the good air with one another. For the air here outside was better than with the higher men.


Hardly, however, had Zarathustra left the cave when the old magician got up, looked cunningly about him, and said: “He is gone!

And already, you higher men- let me tickle you with this complimentary and flattering name, as he himself does- already does my evil spirit of deceit and magic attack me, my melancholy devil,

-Which is an adversary to this Zarathustra from the very heart: forgive it for this! Now does it wish to beseech before you, it has just its hour; in vain do I struggle with this evil spirit.

To all of you, whatever honors you like to assume in your names, whether you call yourselves ‘the free spirits’ or ‘the conscientious,’ or ‘the penitents of the spirit,’ or ‘the unfettered,’ or ‘the great longers,’-

-To all of you, who like me suffer from the great loathing, to whom the old God has died, and as yet no new God lies in cradles and swaddling clothes- to all of you is my evil spirit and magic-devil favorable.

I know you, you higher men, I know him,- I know also this fiend whom I love in spite of me, this Zarathustra: he himself often seems to me like the beautiful mask of a saint,

-Like a new strange mummery in which my evil spirit, the melancholy devil, delights:- I love Zarathustra, so does it often seem to me, for the sake of my evil spirit.-

But already does it attack me and constrain me, this spirit of melancholy, this evening-twilight devil: and verily, you higher men, it has a longing-

-Open your eyes!- it has a longing to come naked, whether male or female, I do not yet know: but it comes, it constrains me, alas! open your wits!

The day dies out, to all things comes now the evening, also to the best things; hear now, and see, you higher men, what devil- man or womanthis spirit of evening-melancholy is!”

Thus spoke the old magician, looked cunningly about him, and then seized his harp.


In evening’s limpid air,

What time the dew’s soothings To the earth downpour, Invisibly and unheardFor tender shoe-gear wear The soothing dews, like all that’s kind-gentle-:

Bethinkst you then, bethinkst you, burning heart, How once you thirstedest For heaven’s kindly teardrops and dew’s down-droppings, All singed and weary thirstedest, What time on yellow grass-pathways Wicked, occidental sunny glances Through sombre trees about you sported, Blindingly sunny glow-glances, gladly-hurting?

“Of truth the wooer? You?”- so taunted they”No! Merely poet!

A brute insidious, plundering, grovelling, That ayou must lie, That wittingly, wilfully, ayou must lie:

For booty lusting, Motley masked, Self-hidden, shrouded, Himself his bootyHe- of truth the wooer?

No! Mere fool! Mere poet!

Just motley speaking, From mask of fool confusedly shouting, Circumambling on fabricated word-bridges, On motley rainbow-arches, ‘Twixt the spurious heavenly, And spurious earthly,

Round us roving, round us soaring,Mere fool! Mere poet!

He- of truth the wooer?

Not still, stiff, smooth and cold, Become an image, A godlike statue, Set up in front of temples, As a God’s own door-guard:

No! hostile to all such truthfulness-statues, In every desert homelier than at temples, With cattish wantonness, Through every window leaping Quickly into chances, Every wild forest a-sniffing, Greedily-longingly, sniffing, That you, in wild forests, ‘Mong the motley-speckled fierce creatures, Shouldest rove, sinful-sound and fine-colored, With longing lips smacking, Blessedly mocking, blessedly hellish, blessedly blood-thirsty, Robbing, skulking, lying- roving:Or to eagles like which fixedly, Long adown the precipice look, Adown their precipice:- Oh, how they whirl down now, Thereunder, therein, To ever deeper profoundness whirling!Then, Sudden, With aim aright, With quivering flight, On lambkins pouncing,

Headlong down, sore-hungry, For lambkins longing, Fierce ‘gainst all lamb-spirits, Furious-fierce all that look Sheeplike, or lambeyed, or crisp-woolly,

-Grey, with lambsheep kindliness!

Even thus, Eaglelike, pantherlike, Are the poet’s desires, Are your own desires ‘neath a thousand guises. You fool! you poet!

You who all mankind viewedSo God, as sheep-:

The God to rend within mankind, As the sheep in mankind, And in rending laughingThat, that is your own blessedness!

Of a panther and eagle- blessedness!

Of a poet and fool- the blessedness!- In evening’s limpid air, What time the moon’s sickle, Green, ‘twixt the purple-glowings, And jealous, steal’th forth:

-Of day the foe, With every step in secret, The rosy garland-hammocks Downsickling, till they’ve sunken Down nightwards, faded, downsunken:Thus had I sunken one day From mine own truth-insanity, From mine own fervid day-longings, Of day aweary, sick of sunshine,

-Sunk downwards, evenwards, shadowwards: By one sole trueness All scorched and thirsty:

-Bethinkst you still, bethinkst you, burning heart, How then you thirstedest?That I should banned be From all the trueness!

Mere fool! Mere poet!