XXXIII. THE GRAVE-SONG
by Friedrich Nietzsche
Yonder is the grave-island, the silent isle; yonder also are the graves of
my youth. There will I carry an evergreen wreath of life.
Resolving thus in my heart, did I sail over the sea.--
Oh, ye sights and scenes of my youth! Oh, all ye gleams of love, ye divine
fleeting gleams! How could ye perish so soon for me! I think of you to-
day as my dead ones.
From you, my dearest dead ones, come unto me a sweet savour, heart-
opening and melting. Verily, it convulses and opens the heart of the
Still am I the richest and most to be envied--I, the lonesomest one! For I
HAVE POSSESSED you, and ye possess me still. Tell me: to whom has there
ever fallen such rosy apples from the tree as have fallen unto me?
Still am I your love's heir and heritage, blooming to your memory with
many-hued, wild-growing virtues, O ye dearest ones!
Ah, we were made to remain nigh unto each other, ye kindly strange marvels;
and not like timid birds did ye come to me and my longing--nay, but as
trusting ones to a trusting one!
Yea, made for faithfulness, like me, and for fond eternities, must I now
name you by your faithlessness, ye divine glances and fleeting gleams: no
other name have I yet learnt.
Verily, too early did ye die for me, ye fugitives. Yet did ye not flee
from me, nor did I flee from you: innocent are we to each other in our
To kill ME, did they strangle you, ye singing birds of my hopes! Yea, at
you, ye dearest ones, did malice ever shoot its arrows--to hit my heart!
And they hit it! Because ye were always my dearest, my possession and my
possessedness: ON THAT ACCOUNT had ye to die young, and far too early!
At my most vulnerable point did they shoot the arrow--namely, at you, whose
skin is like down--or more like the smile that dies at a glance!
But this word will I say unto mine enemies: What is all manslaughter in
comparison with what ye have done unto me!
Worse evil did ye do unto me than all manslaughter; the irretrievable did
ye take from me:--thus do I speak unto you, mine enemies!
Slew ye not my youth's visions and dearest marvels! My playmates took ye
from me, the blessed spirits! To their memory do I deposit this wreath and
This curse upon you, mine enemies! Have ye not made mine eternal short, as
a tone dies away in a cold night! Scarcely, as the twinkle of divine
eyes, did it come to me--as a fleeting gleam!
Thus spake once in a happy hour my purity: Divine shall everything be
Then did ye haunt me with foul phantoms; ah, where has that happy hour
All days shall be holy unto me--so spake once the wisdom of my youth:
verily, the language of a joyous wisdom!
But then did ye enemies steal my nights, and sold them to sleepless
torture: ah, where has that joyous wisdom now fled?
Once did I long for happy auspices: then did ye lead an owl-monster across
my path, an adverse sign. Ah, where did my tender longing then flee?
All loathing did I once vow to renounce: then did ye change my nigh ones
and nearest ones into ulcerations. Ah, where did my noblest vow then
As a blind one did I once walk in blessed ways: then did ye cast filth on
the blind one's course: and now is he disgusted with the old footpath.
And when I performed my hardest task, and celebrated the triumph of my
victories, then did ye make those who loved me call out that I then grieved
Verily, it was always your doing: ye embittered to me my best honey, and
the diligence of my best bees.
To my charity have ye ever sent the most impudent beggars; around my
sympathy have ye ever crowded the incurably shameless. Thus have ye
wounded the faith of my virtue.
And when I offered my holiest as a sacrifice, immediately did your piety
put its fatter gifts beside it: so that my holiest suffocated in the fumes
of your fat.
And once did I want to dance as I had never yet danced: beyond all heavens
did I want to dance. Then did ye seduce my favourite minstrel.
And now has he struck up an awful, melancholy air; alas, he tooted as a
mournful horn to mine ear!
Murderous minstrel, instrument of evil, most innocent instrument! Already
did I stand prepared for the best dance: then did you slay my rapture
with your tones!
Only in the dance do I know how to speak the parable of the highest
things:--and now has my grandest parable remained unspoken in my limbs!
Unspoken and unrealised has my highest hope remained! And there have
perished for me all the visions and consolations of my youth!
How did I ever bear it? How did I survive and surmount such wounds? How
did my soul rise again out of those sepulchres?
Yea, something invulnerable, unburiable is with me, something that would
rend rocks asunder: it is called MY WILL. Silently does it proceed, and
unchanged throughout the years.
Its course will it go upon my feet, mine old Will; hard of heart is its
nature and invulnerable.
Invulnerable am I only in my heel. Ever live you there, and are like
yourself, you most patient one! Ever have you burst all shackles of the
In you still lives also the unrealisedness of my youth; and as life and
youth sits you here hopeful on the yellow ruins of graves.
Yea, you are still for me the demolisher of all graves: Hail to thee, my
Will! And only where there are graves are there resurrections.--
Thus sang Zarathustra.
the first thought of Zarathustra