The Gay Science


The Dawn of Day is a yea-saying book, profound but clear and gracious in style. This is true also and in the highest degree of La Gaya Scienza: in almost every sentence of this book profundity and high spirits are delicately combined. A verse which;expresses my gratitude for the most wonderful January in my experience - the whole book is its gift - sufficiently reveals from what depths wisdom has emerged to become "joyful":

You melt the ice around my heart with your flaming spear; with a roar it hastens to empty itself into the sea of its supreme hope; it is ever brighter, ever purer: thus, O beautiful January, does it praise the marvels you accomplish.

Who can have any doubt as to what "supreme hope" means here, once he has caught the gleam of the jeweled beauty of Zarathustra's first words at the close of the fourth book? Or once he has read the granite-like sentences at the end of the third book, where there is the first formulation of a destiny for all ages? The songs of Prince Free-as-a-Bird, written for the most part in Sicily, remind one quite forcibly of that Provencal notion of "La Gaya Scienza," of that union of singer, knight, and free spirit, which distinguishes that wonderfully early culture of the Provencals from all ambiguous cultures. The last poem, "To the Mistral," - an exuberant dance song in which, if you please, morality is freely trodden on - is a perfect Provencalism.

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