XXXII. THE DANCE-SONG
by Friedrich Nietzsche
One evening went Zarathustra and his disciples through the forest; and when
he sought for a well, lo, he lighted upon a green meadow peacefully
surrounded with trees and bushes, where maidens were dancing together. As
soon as the maidens recognised Zarathustra, they ceased dancing;
Zarathustra, however, approached them with friendly mein and spoke these
Cease not your dancing, ye lovely maidens! No game-spoiler hath come to
you with evil eye, no enemy of maidens.
God's advocate am I with the devil: he, however, is the spirit of gravity.
How could I, ye light-footed ones, be hostile to divine dances? Or to
maidens' feet with fine ankles?
To be sure, I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not
afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.
And even the little God may he find, who is dearest to maidens: beside the
well lies he quietly, with closed eyes.
Verily, in broad daylight did he fall asleep, the sluggard! Had he perhaps
chased butterflies too much?
Upbraid me not, ye beautiful dancers, when I chasten the little God
somewhat! He will cry, certainly, and weep--but he is laughable even when
And with tears in his eyes shall he ask you for a dance; and I myself will
sing a song to his dance:
A dance-song and satire on the spirit of gravity my supremest, powerfulest
devil, who is said to be lord of the world.--
And this is the song that Zarathustra sang when Cupid and the maidens
Of late did I gaze into thine eye, O Life! And into the unfathomable did I
there seem to sink.
But thou pulled me out with a golden angle; derisively did you laugh
when I called thee unfathomable.
Such is the language of all fish, said you; what THEY do not fathom
But changeable am I only, and wild, and altogether a woman, and no virtuous
Though I be called by you men the profound one, or the faithful one,
the eternal one, the mysterious one.
But ye men endow us always with your own virtues--alas, ye virtuous ones!
Thus did she laugh, the unbelievable one; but never do I believe her and
her laughter, when she speaks evil of herself.
And when I talked face to face with my wild Wisdom, she said to me angrily:
You will, you crave, you love; on that account alone do you
Then had I almost answered indignantly and told the truth to the angry one;
and one cannot answer more indignantly than when one tells the truth to
For thus do things stand with us three. In my heart do I love only Life--
and verily, most when I hate her!
But that I am fond of Wisdom, and often too fond, is because she reminds
me very strongly of Life!
She has her eye, her laugh, and even her golden angle-rod: am I
responsible for it that both are so alike?
And when once Life asked me: Who is she then, this Wisdom?--then said I
eagerly: Ah, yes! Wisdom!
One thirsts for her and is not satisfied, one looks through veils, one
grasps through nets.
Is she beautiful? What do I know! But the oldest carps are still lured by
Changeable is she, and wayward; often have I seen her bite her lip, and
pass the comb against the grain of her hair.
Perhaps she is wicked and false, and altogether a woman; but when she
speaks ill of herself, just then does she seduce most.
When I had said this unto Life, then laughed she maliciously, and shut her
eyes. Of whom do you speak? said she. Perhaps of me?
And if you were right--is it proper to say THAT in such wise to my face!
But now, pray, speak also of thy Wisdom!
Ah, and now hast you again opened your eyes, O beloved Life! And into
the unfathomable have I again seemed to sink.--
Thus sang Zarathustra. But when the dance was over and the maidens had
departed, he became sad.
The sun has been long set, said he at last, the meadow is damp, and
from the forest comes coolness.
An unknown presence is about me, and gazes thoughtfully. What! You
livet still, Zarathustra?
Why? Wherefore? Whereby? Whither? Where? How? Is it not folly still
Ah, my friends; the evening is it which thus interrogates in me. Forgive
me my sadness!
Evening has come on: forgive me that evening has come on!
Thus sang Zarathustra.
the first thought of Zarathustra