The Poet's Call

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The Poet's Call  (1910)  by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by [[Author:Paul V. Cohn and Maude D. Petre|Paul V. Cohn and Maude D. Petre]]
Songs of Prince Free-as-a-Bird
German Original published 1887 as part of the second edition of The Joyful Wisdom ('La Gaya Scienza'). This translation published in 1910 as part of Oscar Levy's The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche volume 10.
THE POET'S CALL.

As 'neath a shady tree I sat
 After long toil to take my pleasure,
I heard a tapping "pit-a-pat"
 Beat prettily in rhythmic measure.
Tho' first I scowled, my face set hard,
 The sound at length my sense entrapping
Forced me to speak like any bard,
 And keep true time unto the tapping.
 
As I made verses, never stopping,
 Each syllable the bird went after,
Keeping in time with dainty hopping!
 I burst into unmeasured laughter!
What, you a poet? You a poet?
 Can your brains truly so addled be?
"Yes, yes, good sir, you are a poet,"
 Chirped out the pecker, mocking me.

What doth me to these woods entice?
 The chance to give some thief a trouncing?
A saw, an image? Ha, in a trice
 My rhyme is on it, swiftly pouncing!
All things that creep or crawl the poet
 Weaves in his word-loom cunningly.
"Yes, yes, good sir, you are a poet,"
 Chirped out the pecker, mocking me.

Like to an arrow, methinks, a verse is,
 See how it quivers, pricks and smarts
When shot full straight (no tender mercies!)
 Into the reptile's nobler parts!

Wretches, you die at the hand of the poet,
 Or stagger like men that have drunk too free.
"Yes, yes, good sir, you are a poet,"
 Chirped out the pecker, mocking me.

So they go hurrying, stanzas malign,
 Drunken words—what a clattering, banging!—
Till the whole company, line on line,
 All on the rhythmic chain are hanging.
Has he really a cruel heart, your poet?
 Are there fiends who rejoice, the slaughter to see?
"Yes, yes, good sir, you are a poet,"
 Chirped out the pecker, mocking me.

So you jest at me, bird, with your scornful graces?
 So sore indeed is the plight of my head?
And my heart, you say, in yet sorrier case is?
 Beware! for my wrath is a thing to dread!
Yet e'en in the hour of his wrath the poet
 Rhymes you and sings with the selfsame glee.
"Yes, yes, good sir, you are a poet,"
 Chirped out the pecker, mocking me.



This is a translation and has a separate copyright status from the original text. The license for the translation applies to this edition only.
Original:
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
 
Translation:
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).