[Nietzsche]Welt-Klugheit[Poetry]

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Arjen
 
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 10:26 am
While reading Nietzsche's 'La Gaya Scienza' (I just got started) I came across this friendliest little poem. Apparently it is an evaluation of how children (he himself?) view the world, set out against how others view the world. I wanted to share this one with all of you.

Welt-Klugheit
Bleib nicht auf ebnem Feld!
Steig nicht zu hoch hinaus!




Below you will find an attempt of mine at a comprehensive translation for those of you who do not read German. It was somewhat difficult for me to translate German into English because my native language is Dutch. I tried bypassing the Duch in my mind.
Anyway, I hope you will like it and I hope my translation is at least adaequate.

World-Wisdom
Do not stay on like fields!
Do not fly to high!
The world is most beautifull to behold
From half height.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 11:23 am
@Arjen,
Here is Walter Kaufmann's translation of the same poem.

Worldly Wisdom

Do not stay in the field!
Nor climb out of sight.
The best view of the world
Is from a medium height.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 11:58 am
@Theaetetus,
I don't think I did too bad then. Smile Which translation do you like better and what do you think Nietzsche ment to say with it?
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 03:14 pm
@Arjen,
I liked Kaufmann's better, but that could just be due to the fact that he translated most of Nietzsche's work. I do commend you on your translation though.

I think what he was trying to say with the poem is that a life in the public eye or a life in obscurity are not the healthy ways to live. Finding balance between the two is worldly wisdom that everyone should live by.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 04:57 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
I liked Kaufmann's better, but that could just be due to the fact that he translated most of Nietzsche's work. I do commend you on your translation though.

Yes, he does use more 'normal' words I think. His words seem less 'forced' so to speak.

Quote:

I think what he was trying to say with the poem is that a life in the public eye or a life in obscurity are not the healthy ways to live. Finding balance between the two is worldly wisdom that everyone should live by.

I have the idea that Kaufmann's translation led you astray in this case.

Perhaps I should translate the German sentence by sentence so I can show you what I did and why I think Kaufmann's translation is incorrect. After that I think we should get back to what Nietzsche ment by it.

Quote:

Bleib nicht auf ebnem Feld!

Ebnen means level, same, known. The term 'beaten path' comes to mind. Literally Nietzsche is saying not to stay in the fields that you/everybody know(s).

Quote:

Steig nicht zu hoch hinaus!

I would like to say that I had forgot the word 'nicht' (which means not, denial, reversal). I have added it now.

On this line Kaufmann and I agree. It is about not rising above what is around you; keeping sight of what takes place.

Quote:



On this line Kaufmann and I agree as well. It states that the world is most beautifull, best seen. In the next sentence a clarification of when is given.

Quote:



Kauffmann and I sort of agree here too. It is about medium, half. The word 'halber' means the half of something. To me the height of a youg child come to mind.

When it comes to meaning I think it is about Nietzsche's idea on how to live ones life. Try to look around (into other 'fields'), try to see what is around you (and not ponder about things more beautifull; aesthetical ideals). And this is embodied in how children live (the way the world is viewed from medium height); a 'real' living is known by children who are not lured into a comfortable life or into aesthetical fictions, but simply 'live'. This seems much more inline with Nietzsche's philosophies than the mediocre idea you are proposing (Which seems to 'flow' from Kaufmann's translation. I do not think it is what he ment though).

That is why I think it is the nicest of poems. He states his philosophy in a way which I have never seen him do in his best known works; there he rages and roars (so to speak Smile ). It is as if he is showing the child within himself, or telling us to find our child inside ourselves to me. What do you think?
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 05:35 pm
@Arjen,
I agree that my interpretation is based on what Kaufmann translated, but I wouldn't necessarily call it "mediocre". I was also considering that Nietzsche was kind of a recluse when he was a prolific writer. He lived in obscurity out of the public eye which also appears in Thus Spoke and probably other works I haven't read yet.

I just as easily could have said that the poem is not about joining the herd mentality, but also avoiding alienating elitism.

There are many different interpretations of the meaning Nietzsche may have intended, but with many great poems the interpretations are left to the subjective realm. The sign of a great poem is not the universal meaning but the multiplicity of the possible interpretations. This poem is obviously about balance between two contradictions, but as to the rest of it there are many different meaning one could get out of the words and what is written in between. Thus, Nietzsche was a Taoist whether he knew so or not, but that is for a different topic some time later when I start studying more of his work.

I don't think Nietzsche necessarily rages and roars all the time. He does so when it is proper. When it is necessary and proper to be poetic he does so.

Thanks for explaining the German. I know absolutely no German so I am force to listen to the "expert" translators.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 03:08 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
I agree that my interpretation is based on what Kaufmann translated, but I wouldn't necessarily call it "mediocre".

I was referring to this part of your post:
Quote:

I think what he was trying to say with the poem is that a life in the public eye or a life in obscurity are not the healthy ways to live. Finding balance between the two is worldly wisdom that everyone should live by.

It is as if you are referring to Aristotle's work: mesotes. That is why I used the word mediocre. I do not Think Nietzsche would ever mean that. He always points to living; responding to what is happening instead of keeping yourself in check by aesthetical ideals (like mesotes).

Quote:

I was also considering that Nietzsche was kind of a recluse when he was a prolific writer. He lived in obscurity out of the public eye which also appears in Thus Spoke and probably other works I haven't read yet.

I think that means merely not getting involved in matters of state and trying to live as life is.

Quote:

I just as easily could have said that the poem is not about joining the herd mentality, but also avoiding alienating elitism.

Allright, that I can agree on.

Quote:

There are many different interpretations of the meaning Nietzsche may have intended, but with many great poems the interpretations are left to the subjective realm. The sign of a great poem is not the universal meaning but the multiplicity of the possible interpretations. This poem is obviously about balance between two contradictions, but as to the rest of it there are many different meaning one could get out of the words and what is written in between. Thus, Nietzsche was a Taoist whether he knew so or not, but that is for a different topic some time later when I start studying more of his work.

Perhaps studying his work would be a good idea. I am having the definate idea that you are comparing him to Aristotle. He is nothing like Aristotle. He is beyond the kind of judgements Aristotle makes.

Quote:

I don't think Nietzsche necessarily rages and roars all the time. He does so when it is proper. When it is necessary and proper to be poetic he does so.
Quote:

Thanks for explaining the German. I know absolutely no German so I am force to listen to the "expert" translators.

Well, I am no expert or anything. My father is half German, but neither that, nor the language itself, has played an active part in my life.

Anyway, it was nice hearing your views on the matter. Thanks for that.
 
ltdaleadergt
 
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 09:17 am
@Arjen,
Indeed world looks like a better place in half height Sad
 
Arjen
 
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 10:18 am
@ltdaleadergt,
<daleader> wrote:
Indeed world looks like a better place in half height Sad

Why is that to you?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 10:16 am
@Arjen,
I thought of this when reading the discussion, although I don't want to imply a connexion, or that every poem must be taken as expressing his philosophy:


"THREE metamorphoses of the spirit do I designate to you: how the spirit becometh a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child."

"
Innocence is the child, and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self-rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yea."


Zarthustra, I,1
The Three Metamorphoses
 
Arjen
 
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 02:29 pm
@jgweed,
I think that little poem has been added. This is what the German version says:

Also Sprach Zarathustra wrote:

Von den drei Verwandlungen

Drei Verwandlungen nenne ich euch des Geistes: wie der Geist zum

Unschuld ist das Kind und Vergessen, ein Neubeginnen, ein Spiel, ein
aus sich rollendes Rad, eine erste Bewegung, ein heiliges Ja-sagen.
 
 

 
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