Published Works | Idylls from Messina | Text© The Nietzsche Channel


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Idylls from Messina.


Prince Freebird.

I cling to a crooked branch today
High above hillock and sea:
A bird invited me here to stay —
I flew to him and now while away
As my little wings beat.

The white sea is fast asleep,
I put to bed my every pain and hurt.
I've forgotten aims and harbors deep,
Forgotten fear, praise, and penalty:
Now I fly to every bird.

Just step after step—that is no existence!
Such a pace is tiring and unrefined!
The winds lift me way up without resistance;
I love it: on wings gliding to the distance
I leave all birds behind.

Reason?—that is bad business:
Reason and tongue stumble just the same!
Flight teaches me a new art—yes,
I learn a more beautiful business,
Song, joke and the melody-game.

To think in solitude—that is swell.
To sing in solitude—that is dumb!
Gather round me and be still
You dear fine birds, don't be shrill,
And listen to the way it's sung!

*       *

The Little Brig Called "The Little Angel." 1

Little Angel: so I'm called—
Now a ship, but once a maiden,
Oh, still very much a maiden!
For my fine little steering wheel
Always whirls for the sake of love.

Little Angel: so I'm called—
Bedecked with a hundred little flags
And the most handsome captain,
Who, just like the little flag out front,
Puffs up at my helm.

Little Angel: so I'm called—
Wherever a little flame
Burns for me, I run like a covetous
Little lamb along my way:
I was always such a little lamb.

Little Angel: so I'm called—
Do you really think that I can bark
Like a little dog and that my little mouth
Can spew forth steam and fire?
Oh, mine is a devil's mouth!

Little Angel: so I'm called—
Once I spoke a wicked word
That made my lover flee
So fast to his former home:
Yes, he died from this little word!

Little Angel: so I'm called—
Hardly heard, I ran aground upon
A small reef and broke a little rib,
So that my soul ran off:
Yes, it left through this little rib!

Little Angel: so I'm called—
My soul, like a little kitten,
Made one, two, three, four, five little leaps,
Swung itself onto the little ship—
Yes, it has quick little paws.

Little Angel: so I'm called—
Now a ship, but once a maiden,
Oh, still very much a maiden!
For my fine little steering wheel
Always whirls for the sake of love.

*       *

Song of a Goatherder.
(To my neighbor Theocritus of Syracusa.)

Here I lie, sick to my stomach —
Eaten by bugs.
And over there still light and noise:
I hear them dancing.

At this hour, she wanted
To sneak off with me:
Like a dog I wait —
But no sign comes!

She swore on the cross!
How could she lie?
Or does she run after everyone,
Just like my goats?

Where's her silken skirt?
Ah, my pride —
Does it still live as many a ram
In these woods?

How curled and poisonous love
Makes one in the waiting —
Like toadstools, in the stifling night,
Growing in the garden.

Love consumes me
Like a seventh hell —
I eat almost nothing,
Onions, farewell!

Into the sea the moon wanes,
The stars fade away,
Along comes the gray day —
I would like to die.

*       *

The Little Witch.

As long as I'm still pretty,
It's still worth being pious.
One knows, God loves a woman,
A pretty one to boot.
He will surely forgive
The dutiful monk
That he, like many a monk,
Likes to be with me.

No gray church father!
No, still young and usually blushing,
Often like the graying tomcat
Rife with jealousy and want!
He doesn't love the aged,
I don't love old men:
How whimsical and wise
Is God's design!

The church knows how to live,
It tries the heart and face.
That's the way he sees me and forgives—
Indeed, who does not forgive me!
One lisps with a little whisper,
One curtsies and departs
And with a new little sin
One wipes away the old.

Praise be to God on earth,
Who loves pretty maidens
And gladly forgives himself
Affairs of the heart!
As long as I'm still pretty,
It's still worth being pious:
When I'm an old wobbly woman
May the devil take me!

*       *

The Nocturnal Mystery.

Last night, while everyone slept,
Hardly a breath of wavering
Wind ran through the lanes,
Yet my pillow gave me no comfort,
Nor poppy, nor what otherwise
Makes for deep sleep—a good conscience.

Finally I fought off sleep
And ran to the strand.
It was moonlit and mild — I met
Man and boat upon warm sand,
Both sleepy, shepherd and sheep: —
Sleepily the boat left the land.

One hour, possibly even two,
Or was it a year?— then suddenly
My mind and thoughts sank
Into an endless ennui,
And a boundless abyss
Opened up: — then it was over!

Morning came: upon the black deep
A boat rests and rests — —
What happened? was the cry, then soon
That of a hundred — what was there? Blood? —
Nothing happened! We slept, one and
All — oh, so well! so well!

*       *

"Pious, charitable, most loving one." 2
(On the Holy Field.)

O maiden, with your lamb,
One with soft curly fleece,
Light and flame are
In both your eyes,
You charming playful creature,
You darling near or far,
So pious, so kindhearted,
Most loving one!

What broke your chain so soon?
Who has made you so distraught?
And dear you, who has
Not loved you enough? —
You are silent—yet your kind
Eyes are close to tears:
You are silent—and will die from longing,
Most loving one?

*       *


O wonder! Does he still fly?
He soars and his wings are still!
What lifts and carries him up?
What are his goal and course and aid now?

He flies up high—even the heavens
Now praise the victorious flier:
Now still, at rest he glides,
Forgetting victory and the victor.

Like a star and eternity
He lives now in heights that life avoids,
Even feels sorry for envy —:
And high fly all who merely see him soaring!

O albatross!
I'm swept up to the heights by an eternal instinct!
I thought of you: then tear
After tear began to flow—yes, I love you!

*       *


Murmuring to myself, when
Under dark trees I took a seat,
I heard ticking, a faint ticking then,
Delicate, as a measure and a beat.
I got angry, grimaced a bit,
There was nothing I could do,
Until I, just like a poet,
Spoke in that ticktock, too.

I kept making verses, yet
Syllable by syllable out they sprung,
I had to laugh suddenly—laughter let
Out fifteen minutes long.
You a poet? You a poet?
Are you so sick in the head? —
"Yes, sir! You are a poet!"
— Thus the woodpecker said.

1. A ship that was christened "Angiolina," in memory of a lovesick girl who leapt to her death into the sea.
2. At the Campo Santo di Staglieno—a cemetery in Staglieno, near Genoa—a tombstone is carved with the image of a girl and her lamb, along with the inscription "Pia, caritatevole, amorosissima."

Published Works | Idylls from Messina | Text© The Nietzsche Channel