Monthly Archives: August 2022

Odd poem: ‘Zarathustra’s Roundelay’ by Friedrich Nietzsche

O man! Attend!
What does deep midnight’s voice contend?
‘I slept my sleep,
‘And now awake at dreaming’s end:
‘The world is deep,
‘And deeper than day can comprehend.
‘Deep is its woe,
‘Joy—deeper than heart’s agony:
‘Woe says: Fade! Go!
‘But all joy wants eternity,
‘Wants deep, deep, deep eternity!’

*****

The above is the R.J. Hollingdale translation of Zarathustra’s Rundgesang from the German original of Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra.

O Mensch! Gib acht!
Was spricht die tiefe Mitternacht?
»Ich schlief, ich schlief—,
Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht:—
Die Welt ist tief,
Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.
Tief ist ihr Weh—,
Lust—tiefer noch als Herzeleid:
Weh spricht: Vergeh!
Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit—,
—will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!«

Photo: “Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘Hoy no somos el mismo hombre de ayer y mañana volveremos a ser otro.’” by Antonio Marín Segovia is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Odd poem: ‘We Dance For Laughter’ by Albert Einstein

We dance for laughter,
we dance for tears,
we dance for madness,
we dance for fears,
we dance for hopes,
we dance for screams,
we are the dancers,
we create the dreams.

*****

I can’t find anyone other than Einstein credited with this verse, but I also can’t find the source for it. Regardless, Einstein had an appropriate attitude for studying the universe: look at it and ourselves in the spirit of dance, learning, dreaming and creativity.

Photo: “Aðstæður til náms” by sfjalar is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Short poem: ‘Loss’

Which is the worst –
Is it the loss, or memory of loss,
Or loss of memory? Who gives a toss
When the brain’s banks have burst
And all we valued yesterday
Is washed away?

*****

The above is a short poem, semi-formal (i.e. it’s in iambics, it rhymes, but it lacks formal structure) published in this month’s Snakeskin No. 298. I like semi-formal because it allows natural expression in a way that formal structure often prevents. Contrast these examples from Matthew Arnold of the formal (from The Scholar-Gipsy) and semi-formal (from A Summer Night):

Thee at the ferry Oxford riders blithe,
Returning home on summer-nights, have met
Crossing the stripling Thames at Bab-lock-hithe,
Trailing in the cool stream thy fingers wet…

The inversions of adjectives and phrases were used to fit rhyme and metre to line length. Drop the line length requirements and, even retaining the “thee”s and “thou”s, the expression is more naturally conversational:

And the rest, a few,
Escape their prison and depart
On the wide ocean of life anew.
There the freed prisoner, where’er his heart
Listeth will sail…

Poor Matthew Arnold! With his father a famous Headmaster and himself an Inspector of Schools, there is a sad irony in so much of his poetry being about escaping the tedium of regimented Victorian life.

Photo: “Müllhaufen Villa V R s 1000 s” by rosalux-stiftung is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Epigram: ‘Many Why’s’

Many “Why?”s
Make one wise.

*****

This epigram was recently published in The Asses of Parnassus. Thanks, Brooke Clark, for hosting “lots of poems for people with short attention spans.”

Photo: “WHY?” by annnna_ is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.