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.