From the Heights


From the Heights is Nietzsche's poem excerpted from the end of his novel, Beyond Good and Evil (1886), translated by L.A. Magnus.
An illustration for the story From the Heights by the author Friedrich Nietzsche
Zarathustra, an Iranian prophet in ancient Persia
An illustration for the story From the Heights by the author Friedrich Nietzsche
Zarathustra, an Iranian prophet in ancient Persia
An illustration for the story From the Heights by the author Friedrich Nietzsche

     MIDDAY of Life! Oh, season of delight!
                      My summer's park!
     Uneaseful joy to look, to lurk, to hark—
     I peer for friends, am ready day and night,—
     Where linger ye, my friends? The time is right!


     Is not the glacier's grey today for you
     The brooklet seeks you, wind, cloud, with longing thread
     And thrust themselves yet higher to the blue,
     To spy for you from farthest eagle's view.


     My table was spread out for you on high—
                      Who dwelleth so
     Star-near, so near the grisly pit below?—
     My realm—what realm hath wider boundary?
     My honey—who hath sipped its fragrancy?


     Friends, ye are there! Woe me,—yet I am not
                        He whom ye seek?
     Ye stare and stop—better your wrath could speak!
     I am not I? Hand, gait, face, changed? And what
     I am, to you my friends, now am I not?


     Am I an other? Strange am I to Me?
                      Yet from Me sprung?
     A wrestler, by himself too oft self-wrung?
     Hindering too oft my own self's potency,
     Wounded and hampered by self-victory?


     I sought where-so the wind blows keenest. There
                     I learned to dwell
     Where no man dwells, on lonesome ice-lorn fell,
     And unlearned Man and God and curse and prayer?
     Became a ghost haunting the glaciers bare?


     Ye, my old friends! Look! Ye turn pale, filled o'er
                      With love and fear!
     Go! Yet not in wrath. Ye could ne'er live here.
     Here in the farthest realm of ice and scaur,
     A huntsman must one be, like chamois soar.


     An evil huntsman was I? See how taut
                    My bow was bent!
     Strongest was he by whom such bolt were sent—
     Woe now! That arrow is with peril fraught,
     Perilous as none.—Have yon safe home ye sought!


     Ye go! Thou didst endure enough, oh, heart;—
                     Strong was thy hope;
     Unto new friends thy portals widely ope,
     Let old ones be. Bid memory depart!
     Wast thou young then, now—better young thou art!


     What linked us once together, one hope's tie—
                    (Who now doth con
     Those lines, now fading, Love once wrote thereon?)—
     Is like a parchment, which the hand is shy
     To touch—like crackling leaves, all seared, all dry.


     Oh! Friends no more! They are—what name for those?—
                           Friends' phantom-flight
     Knocking at my heart's window-pane at night,
     Gazing on me, that speaks "We were" and goes,—
     Oh, withered words, once fragrant as the rose!


     Pinings of youth that might not understand!
                       For which I pined,
     Which I deemed changed with me, kin of my kind:
     But they grew old, and thus were doomed and banned:
     None but new kith are native of my land!


     Midday of life! My second youth's delight!
                       My summer's park!
     Unrestful joy to long, to lurk, to hark!
     I peer for friends!—am ready day and night,
     For my new friends. Come! Come! The time is right!


     This song is done,—the sweet sad cry of rue
                       Sang out its end;
     A wizard wrought it, he the timely friend,
     The midday-friend,—no, do not ask me who;
     At midday 'twas, when one became as two.


     We keep our Feast of Feasts, sure of our bourne,
                      Our aims self-same:
     The Guest of Guests, friend Zarathustra, came!
     The world now laughs, the grisly veil was torn,
     And Light and Dark were one that wedding-morn.

From the Heights was featured as The Short Story of the Day on Tue, Oct 15, 2019


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