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Beyond Good and Evil | Study Guide

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

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Beyond Good and Evil | From High Mountains: Aftersong | Summary

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Summary

The final part of Beyond Good and Evil is a poem expressing his loneliness as he waits for kindred spirits to join him in the high mountains of his philosophical thoughts. "Higher than mine no table has been set," he says, "My realm, like none, is almost infinite." When his old friends arrive, they do not recognize him at first. That is because he has perhaps "become a ghost that wanders over glaciers." He tells these old friends they can leave, since they can't live with him among the "ice and rock," where he has learned to bend a bow and strike with an arrow that no one else can send. The poet does not shut his gate, however, hoping "new friends may come along." While the poet was once young, he has grown younger, while the friends of old have aged "and lost our old affinity: /One has to change to stay akin to me." He continues to wait for new friends, who still have not arrived. Finally, "one turned into two," and they celebrate with a feast. "Friend Zarathustra" has arrived, "the guest of guests! ... The wedding is at hand of dark and light."

Analysis

In this epilogue of sorts Nietzsche, the speaker of the poem, casts himself in the role of the overman. He has come by his truths honestly, through pain and suffering, and he is like a ghost who has been wandering among glaciers. His quest for knowledge, however, has made him younger, while his old friends have grown old because they have stayed in one place. He, on the other hand has kept moving mentally, unafraid of new ideas and insight. He has grown strong enough to bend the bow and send the arrow, which he spoke about in the prologue, into the future where the arrow has finally hit its target. The profound loneliness that Nietzsche has felt in being a thinker ahead of his time comes through in the poem, even if it is not equal to his prose writing in terms of sophistication, style, or profundity. Still, it is straight from the heart. Nietzsche was not wrong to think he was a philosopher of the future, only appreciated after his death. In the poem, he imagines his kindred spirit as Zarathustra, a Beloved of sorts, and also the sage of his previous book. No longer alone, he and Zarathustra together await the marriage of dark and light, and the dawning of the era beyond good and evil.

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