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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

IO2                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

It is a rhymed poem, however, Das trunkne L*ied from Also sprach
Zarathustra^ which is most quoted; and here the rhymes are neces-
sary, for they echo the twelve strokes of midnight:

OhMensch! Gib achtl

Was spricht die tiefe Mitternacht?

'Ich schlief, ich schliej'-,

Aus tie/em Traum bin ich envacht: -

Die Welt ist fief,

Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.

Tiefistibr Web-,

'Lust- tiefer noch als Her^eleid:

Weh spricht: Vergeh!

Doch alle Lust mil Emgkeit -,

- will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!*

Out of its context the poem is cryptic. Midnight is symbolical; it
stands for every moment which is between the past and the future
- which is true of every moment. The 'deep dream' is the dark
mysticism of religion. *Weh9 is the pessimistic conception of life
which seeks Nirwana; but joy knows that it is ever mate to suffer-
ing, arid accepts suffering for the sake of eternity, wills the eternal
recurrence.

Not the originality of Nietzsche's ideas but the lyric power with
which he makes them his own and the fact that they constitute a
doctrine directly opposite to the doctrines of Christianity and
democracy explain their immense influence on literature after 1890.
Indeed the literal originality of these ideas, which have passed as
more or less commonplace into the common heritage of mankind,
may well be questioned. Ubermensch as a word has been traced back
to 1527, was a favourite with Herder, and is used sarcastically by
Goethe in line 490 of Faust and in the dedication to his poems;
and its doctrinal significance was taught in ancient Greece by the
sophists. Die ewige Wiederkehr is the palingenesis of the Pythagor-
eans, Heraclitus, and the Stoics, and is originally a religious tenet
of the Babylonians. Nietzsche's ethical teaching itself finds a paral-
lel in that of a contemporary philosopher whose writings have
good literary qualities - EUGEN DUHRING* (1833-1921), who bids
man cast off the Jew-Christian conception of life as slavery and to

1 Der Wert des Lebens (1865); Sache, Leben undFeinde (1882); Wirklichkeits-
philosophie (1895); Wajfen, Kapital und Arbeit (1906); Soyiah Rettunff