Zarathustra's roundelay

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Zarathustra's Roundelay is a poem that figures as a central motif in the 1883-1885 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche. The roundelay first appears in "Chapter 59: The Second Dance-Song", as a psychological revelation that precedes "Chapter 60: The Seven Seals", a conclusion and affirmation of Zarathustra's middle-aged philosophical ventures. Then, in the second last chapter, "The Drunken Song", Zarathustra elaborates upon and explains his roundelay, revealing its connection to the Eternal Recurrence.

The German original[edit]

Zarathustra's Rundgesang

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!«

English translations[edit]

There are a number of different English translations:

Thomas Common

O man! Take heed!
What saith deep midnight's voice indeed?
"I slept my sleep—
"From deepest dream I've woke and plead:—
"The world is deep,
"And deeper than the day could read.
"Deep is its woe—
"Joy—deeper still than grief can be:
"Woe saith: Hence! Go!
"But joys all want eternity—
"Want deep profound eternity!"

Alexander Tille, revised

O man! Take heed!
What saith deep midnight, indeed?
"I lay asleep, asleep—
I waked from my deep dream.
The world is deep,
And deeper than even day may dream.
Deep is its woe—
Joy— deeper yet than woe is she:
Saith woe: 'Hence! Go!'
Yet joy would have eternity,
—Profound, profound eternity!"

Walter Kaufmann

O man, take care!
What does the deep midnight declare?
"I was asleep—
From a deep dream I woke and swear:
The world is deep,
Deeper than day had been aware.
Deep is its woe;
Joy—deeper yet than agony:
Woe implores: Go!
But all joy wants eternity—
Wants deep, wants deep eternity."

R. J. Hollingdale

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!'

Adrian Del Caro

Oh mankind, pray!
What does deep midnight have to say?
"From sleep, from sleep—
From deepest dream I made my way:—
The world is deep,
And deeper than the grasp of day.
Deep is its pain—,
Joy—deeper still than misery:
Pain says: Refrain!
Yet all joy wants eternity—
—Wants deep, wants deep eternity."

Translations in other languages[edit]

A number of significant translations have also been made in other languages:

Henri Albert – French

Ô homme prends garde !
Que dit minuit profond ?
« J’ai dormi, j’ai dormi –,
D’un rêve profond je me suis éveillé : –
Le monde est profond,
Et plus profond que ne pensait le jour.
Profonde est sa douleur –,
La joie – plus profonde que l’affliction.
La douleur dit : Passe et finis !
Mais toute joie veut l’éternité –
– veut la profonde éternité ! »

Unidentified translator[1] – Spanish

¡Oh hombre! ¡Presta atención!
¿Qué dice la profunda medianoche?
«Yo dormía, dormía -,
De un profundo soñar me he despertado: -
El mundo es profundo,
Y más profundo de lo que el día ha pensado.
Profundo es su dolor -,
El placer - es aún más profundo que el sufrimiento:
El dolor dice: ¡Pasa!
Mas todo placer quiere eternidad -,
¡quiere profunda, profunda eternidad!»

W. A. Verloren van Themaat – Esperanto

Atentu! Homo!
Kion diras la noktmeza fono?
„Dorm' min inundis –
Post sonĝprofundo per mi tagis: –
La mond' profundas
Pli ol la tag' imagis.
Profunda esata ĝia ve' –,
Ĝoj' – pli profunda ol tristeco:
Ve' diras: Al pere'!
Sed ĉiu ĝojo volas eternecon –
– profundan, fundan eternecon!“

Cultural impact[edit]

The roundelay was used as the text for the 4th movement (originally titled "What Man Tells Me") of Gustav Mahler's 1895 3rd Symphony. It was also used as the text of the fourth and final movement of Lukas Foss' 1960 Time Cycle.

The text slightly edited appears also in track of Dany Lemon - The Poem.

External links[edit]