The Peacock and the Buffalo: The Poetry of Nietzsche – Preface to the First Edition

peacockThey learned their vanity from the sea: is the sea not the peacock of peacocks?

Even before the ugliest of all buffaloes does it spread its tail, never becoming tired of its lace-fan of silver and silk.

Disdainfully the buffalo glances, its soul near to the sand, closer still to the thicket, nearest, however, to the swamp.

 What is beauty, sea and peacock-splendor to it!  This parable I speak to poets.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Werke in Zwei Banden, I, p. 633

Nietzsche is a poet by instinct – he is driven to it.  And, it does not seem to be merely vanity that compels his voice, but an irrepressible desire to express his life and fate – intimately and symbolically – to disclose his truths and delusions.  He told us, after all, that honesty is our youngest virtue.  His first poems are naive compositions of feeling, often troubled, surrounding events such as his father’s death and his departure from Pforta, exposing, in a raw and deep effluence, his youthful turmoil.  He strikes one at times as a Romantic in manner of Hölderlin’s Hyperion or Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, who can see all too clearly the tragic destination of his life.

To read the rest of this piece, please visit: Preface to the First Edition

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