I would like to comment upon the first line of the poem as I have translated it: "Human being, listen!" I am aware that the language I have used is not idiomatic and is rather awkward. But I had trouble finding something better. In the translation of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" by Walter Kaufmann, which I read in my youth, the first line of the poem is rendered "O man, attend!" This would be excellent if "man" meant "mankind"---but in actual fact "Mensch" is singular, not plural. If Nietzsche intended to speak to a single man (as opposed to a woman) he would have written "O Mann, Gib Acht!" Neither "Mann" in German nor "man" in English is appropriate, for by using the word "Mensch" Nietzsche indicated that his reader could be a woman or even a child. One approach would, therefore, be to write "O man, woman, or child, listen!" That is actually an accurate translation but it deviates from the cadence of the original by adding too many words. Still another tactic would be to retain the German word "Mensch" because it is found in Yiddish also, and should be familiar to most Americans who have (for example) seen movies about New York City and its Jewish population. For this reason "mensch" could almost be considered an English word. Then for the first line we could write "Listen, mensch!" or, to follow Kaufmann's example, "O mensch, attend!" I will let you, the reader, decide which of these alternative translations is best---personally, I think I am not satisfied with anything I have tried.
O Mensch! Gib acht (Übersetzung auf Englisch)
O Mensch! Gib acht
O Mensch! Gib acht!
Was spricht die tiefe Mitternacht?
„Ich schlief, ich schlief -,
Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht: -
Die Welt ist tief,
Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.
Tief ist ihr Weh -,
Lust - tiefer noch als Herzeleid:
Weh spricht: Vergeh!
Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit -
- will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!“
Übersetzung auf EnglischEnglisch
Human being, listen!
Human being, listen!
What does the deep midnight say?
"I slept, I slept,
I awoke from a deep dream:
The world is profound,
and deeper than the day has realized.
Its misery is deep,
Joy is deeper still than the heart's sorrow.
Misery says: just die!
But all joy desires eternity,
wants deep, deep eternity!"
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Übersetzungen von „O Mensch! Gib acht“
Friedrich Nietzsche: Top 3
|1.||O Mensch! Gib acht|
|3.||An die Melancholie|
I cannot claim to have produced an excellent poem in English, but I did make it interesting in a few places by using different words than those that are found in the usual translations. "Mensch" really does mean "human being" rather than "man". I think that "misery" is better than "woe" for the German "Weh", and "just die" has more impact than "go" for the German "vergeh". I wanted to be unconventional, and maybe I did something good.