Philosophers (3)


Twilight of the gods;
philosophising with a hammer,
“6,000 feet beyond man and time”.
Thunder and lightning,
Wagner, Valhalla;
blonde beasts unleashed,
storm troopers, war crimes. . .

Whenever I look at photos of Nietzsche,
these alarming images fill the air.
A whiff of cordite, a sense of danger;
I feel I should cry “Beware!  Beware!
The grotesque moustache, the maniacal glare!”

But these wild fancies only mislead;
best to banish them, best just to read.
The photos distract from what he wrote;
his writings are the true antidote.

Perceptive analysis, much good sense;
even the travestied “Ubermensch”.
But I still recoil, feel abhorrence,
for that strange conception “Eternal Recurrence”.

His aphorisms perplex, delight, confound;
at times ludicrous, at times profound.
Read him!  Enjoy his zest, his vigour.
But don’t expect logic, coherence, or rigour.

I was pondering upon which philosopher to write about next, in my ongoing series of poems on philosophers, when I came across a couple of photographs of Friedrich Nietzsche.  The famous lines from Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” sprang to mind: “. . . Beware! Beware!/His flashing eyes, his floating hair. . . ”  I knew, immediately, that I could modify the lines and use them in a poem about Nietzsche.  I realized it would be impossible to discuss any of Nietzsche’s philosophical ideas, in a brief poem, so all I’ve tried to do is to convey a vivid sense of the feelings and images I experience when reading Nietzsche.


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