Zarathustra Rocks !

This is my 3rd time reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friederich Nietzsche.

The first time I was a wannabee-Nihilist lefty art student in my 20’s and I liked it right away – but didn’t read it all, nor did I read too carefully.

The second time I read T.S.Z. was about 4 years later. That time I read it as it deserves to be read: in a cave in a desert canyon with nearby views across vast arid zones, after hitch-hiking the western U.S. for many months alone.

This time, the third time, I read it as a tired, tax-paying citizen of a failing republic with a wife and family. I found so many pearls of wisdom in this crazy text. Surely one can also find fault with it and note pathetic aspects in it… but upon this reading I encountered the wellsprings of poetry; along with mockery of poetic self-pity.  I found crazy humor, delusions of cosmic grandeur, venomous resentment, psychotic pride, peaceful humility, transcendent wit, and similar precious things that make life a nightmarish delight. Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a great read – for none and all …


PS: I think Kaufmann translation is the best.

Hot Noon Sleeps on the Meadows


O happiness! O happiness! Would you sing, 0 my soul? You are lying in the grass. But this is the secret solemn hour when no shepherd plays his pipe. Refrain! Hot noon sleeps on the meadows. Do not sing! Still! The world is perfect. Do not sing, you winged one in the grass, 0 my soul – do not even whisper! Behold still! – the old noon sleeps, his mouth moves: is he not just now drinking a drop of happiness, an old brown drop of golden happiness, golden wine? It slips over him, his happiness laughs. Thus laughs a god. Still!

“O happiness, how little is sufficient for happiness!” Thus I spoke once and seemed clever to myself. But it was a blasphemy: that I have learned now. Clever fools speak better. Precisely the least, the softest. lightest, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a breeze, a moment’s glance – it is little that makes the best happiness. Still!

What happened to me? Listen! Did time perhaps fly away? Do I not fall? Did I not fall – listen! – into the well of eternity? What is happening to me? Still!  I have been stung, alas – in the heart? In the heart! Oh break, break, heart, after such happiness, after such a sting. How? Did not the world become perfect just now? Round and ripe? Oh, the golden round ring where may it fly? Shall I run after it? Quick! Still! (And here Zarathustra stretched and felt that he was asleep.)

“Up!” he said to himself; “you sleeper! You noon napper! Well, get up, old legs! It is time and overtime; many a good stretch of road still lies ahead of you. Now you have slept out-how long? Half an eternity! Well! Up with you now, my old heart! After such a sleep, how long will it take you to – wake it off?” (But then he fell asleep again, and his soul spoke against him and resisted and lay down again. ) “Leave me alone! Still! Did not the world become perfect just now? Oh, the golden round ball!”

“Get up!” said Zarathustra, “you little thief, you lazy little thief of time! What? Still stretching, yawning, sighing, falling into deep wells? Who are you? 0 my soul!” (At this point he was startled, for a sunbeam fell from the sky onto his face.) “0 heaven over me!” he said, sighing, and sat up. “You are looking on? You are listening to my strange soul? When will you drink this drop of dew which has fallen upon all earthly things? When will you drink this strange soul? When, well of eternity? Cheerful, dreadful abyss of noon! When will you drink my soul back into yourself?”

Thus spoke Zarathustra, and he got up from his resting place at the tree as from a strange drunkenness; and behold, the sun still stood straight over his head. But from this one might justly conclude that Zarathustra had not slept long.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Walter Kaufmann translation from

Zarathustra’s Noon


And Zarathustra ran and ran and did not find anybody any more, and he was alone and found himself again and again, and he enjoyed and quaffed his solitude and thought of good things for hours. But around the hour of noon, when the sun stood straight over Zarathustra’s head, he came to an old crooked and knotty tree that was embraced, and hidden from itself, by the rich love of a grapevine; and yellow grapes hung from it in abundance, inviting the wanderer. Then he felt the desire to quench a slight thirst and to break off a grape; but even as he was stretching out his arm to do so, he felt a still greater desire for something else: namely, to lie down beside the tree at the perfect noon hour, and to sleep.

This Zarathustra did; and as soon as he lay on the ground in the stillness and secrecy of the many-hued grass, he forgot his slight thirst and fell asleep. For, as Zarathustra’s proverb says, one thing is more necessary than another. Only his eyes remained open: for they did not tire of seeing and praising the tree and the love of the grapevine. Falling asleep, however, Zarathustra spoke thus to his heart:

Still! Still! Did not the world become perfect just now? What is happening to me? As a delicate wind dances unseen on an inlaid sea, light, feather-light, thus sleep dances on me. My eyes he does not close, my soul he leaves awake. Light he is, verily, featherlight. He persuades me, I know not how. He touches me inwardly with caressing hands, he conquers me. Yes, he conquers me and makes my soul stretch out: how she is becoming long and tired, my strange soul! Did the eve of a seventh day come to her at noon? Has she already roamed happily among good and ripe things too long? She stretches out long, long-longer. She lies still, my strange soul. Too much that is good has she tasted; this golden sadness oppresses her, she makes a wry mouth.

Like a ship that has sailed into its stillest cove – now it leans against the earth, tired of the long voyages and the uncertain seas. Is not the earth more faithful? The way such a ship lies close to, and nestles to, the land – it is enough if a spider spins its thread to it from the land: no stronger ropes are needed now. Like such a tired ship in the stillest cove, I too rest now near the earth, faithful, trusting, waiting, tied to it with the softest threads.

 Thus Spoke Zarathustra: Part IV
Walter Kaufmann translation from

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