Nietzsche’s poem “From High Mountains”

Friedrich Nietzsche
“From High Mountains: Aftersong”

O noon of life! O time to celebrate!
O summer garden!
Restlessly happy and expectant, standing,
Watching all day and night, for friends I wait: Where are you, friends? Come! It is time! It’s late!

The glacier’s gray adorned itself for you
Today with roses,
The brook seeks you, and full of longing rises
The wind, the cloud, into the vaulting blue
To look for you from dizzy bird’s-eye view.

Higher than mine no table has been set:
Who lives so near
The stars or dread abysses half as sheer?
My realm, like none, is almost infinite,
And my sweet honey—who has tasted it?—

—There you are, friends! —Alas, the man you sought
You do not find here?
You hesitate, amazed? Anger were kinder!
I—changed so much? A different face and gait?
And what I am—for you, friends, I am not?

Am I another? Self-estranged? From me—
Did I elude?
A wrestler who too oft himself subdued?
Straining against his strength too frequently,
Wounded and stopped by his own victory?

I sought where cutting winds are at their worst?
I learned to dwell
Where no one lives, in bleakest polar hell,
Unlearned mankind and god, prayer and curse?
Became a ghost that wanders over glaciers?

—My ancient friends! Alas! You show the shock
Of love and fear!
No, leave! Do not be wroth! You—can’t live here—
Here, among distant fields of ice and rock—
Here one must be a hunter, chamois-like.

A wicked archer I’ve become. —The ends
Of my bow kiss;
Only the strongest bends his bow like this.
No arrow strikes like that which my bow sends:
Away from here—for your own good, my friends!—

You leave?—My heart: no heart has borne worse hunger,-
Your hope stayed strong:
Don’t shut your gates; new friends may come along.
Let old ones go. Don’t be a memory-monger!
Once you were young—now you are even younger.

What once tied us together, one hope’s bond—
Who reads the signs
Love once inscribed on it, the pallid lines?
To parchment I compare it that the hand
Is loath to touch—discolored, dark, and burnt.

No longer friends—there is no word for those
It is a wraith
That knocks at night and tries to rouse my faith,
And looks at me and says: “Once friendship was—”
—O wilted word, once fragrant as the rose.
Youth’s longing misconceived inconstancy.

Those whom I deemed
Changed to my kin, the friends of whom I dreamed,
Have aged and lost our old affinity:
One has to change to stay akin to me.
O noon of life! Our second youthful state!

O summer garden!
Restlessly happy and expectant, standing,

Looking all day and night, for friends I wait:
For new friends! Come! It’s time! It’s late!

* *

This song is over-longing’s dulcet cry
Died in my mouth:
A wizard did it, friend in time of drought,
The friend of noon—no, do not ask me who—
At noon it was that one turned into two—

Sure of our victory, we celebrate
The least of feasts:
Friend Zarathustra came, the guest of guests!
The world now laughs, rent are the drapes of fright,
The wedding is at hand of dark and light—

* * *

[More of Nietzsche’s poetry here.]

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