Jeremy Ganem

Woodcut of John Davidson. 1902. Robert Bryden.

When the barbarians come John,
We will meet them at the gates
Of the city we no longer live
In & we will give them flowers
John, flowers of the world-flower
John, burning flowers: gold &
Savage flowers John, savage
As your dream of England John,
Savage as the blank verse of your
Dreams John.

When the barbarians come John,
We will marry them & be new
Tribes & tribulations, new
Empires of nothing John, as you
Knew then always even as you
Died John, even as the barbarians
Come again for us in your after-
Life John, even when the fisher-
King found you in Mount’s Bay
John, & we wept.

When the barbarians came John
To dream of the £20 note that
We might receive if we had news
Of you, of your disappearing
Will John, the great will of a lost
Century given to you by
Zarathustra & your own
Implacable desire to
Testify John! To testify
Again & again until your voice died.

For when the barbarians come John
They will come bearing your body
As a testament to the fallen
Will John, to the fallen will of the
Great World-Flower that blooms
Upon the Great World-Tree of your
Infinite Will John, & we the
Barbarians will come John
To the gates of another lost
Empire & the gates will be cold.

Jeremy Ganem © 2016

Friedrich Nietzsche. Photograph from the series “Der kranke Nietzsche“ ("The ill Nietzsche"). 1899. Hans Olde.

You do not look well old friend
Of murderers & pariah
Dogs that scream on the streets
Of Berlin in the long night

Of the last century. Coming down
From the mountains you beat
The ground with your crooked
Staff & rage against things

As they are: imbecilic, raw,
& afraid. You made many
Things up—tore down idols
Just because you could,

Even if you once had loved
Them. You were the last
Decadent & the first as well,
For as you said many times,

Everything repeats, even this
Strain, this song, this light
Burning away your name
As you look out of eyes that

Are nearly dead. Always you were
Nearly dead, even with your sword,
Your mustache, your imperious
Gaze backward & forward—imperial

& reckless as your verse, as all
The books you vomited out of
The blackest lung of the Dead God’s
Dead soul. The Spirit that you

Hated probably crept up upon
You in the end Friedrich, as
You turned away, only to bury
Your head in the rotted cloth

Of the rank pillow & weep, to
Weep once again.

Jeremy Ganem © 2016