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To Melancholy - 1871

Translation by The Nietzsche Channel

Don't blame me, Melancholy,
That I sharpen my pen to praise you,
Not that I, head bowed to my knee,
Sit hermitlike on a tree stump, hewn.
You often saw me thus, just yesterday,
In the heat of the radiant morning sun:
A vulture cried greedily in the valley,
Dreaming of its staked and rotting carrion.
You failed, wild bird, although
I rested mummy-like on my seat!
You missed my eye, roving to and fro,
Blissfully proud in the morning heat.
And though it did not attain your height,
Nor billowing clouds reach with its kiss,
It sank ever deeper into itself—right
Through its glinting yawning abyss.
Thus I often sat, unsightly,
A crude crooked sacrifice,
Recalling with you, Melancholy,
Penance for the youthful years of life!
Now I sit content, the vulture circling,
Avalanche of rolling thunder apace,
You speak to me, lacking man's deceiving,
Truthfully, yet with an austere face.
Stern goddess, savage and intense,
You, dearest friend, try to advance;
And point to where the vulture descends,
Daring me to deny you amid the rumbling avalanche.
Snarling with a hiss of terrible desire,
Driven by agonizing greed, she sighs!
On her stony bed, seductively, this flower
Yearns for the caress of butterflies.
All of this am I—feeling a shiver—
Seduced butterfly, lonely flower,
The vulture and rushing icy river,
Rumbling storms—all under your power
I bow low, goddess grim,
For your praise, intoning without strife —
Head to my knee—this eerie hymn:
What I thirst after—for life, life, life!
Don't blame me, angry deity,
That you, with delicate rhymes, I adorn.
Trembling at your approach and terrible visage,
As you dawn, an evil face is born.
Here I stammer out songs of praise
In rhythmic forms, and quiver so:
The ink flows, the quill sprays —
Now leave me, goddess—let me go!

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