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Ouroboros Question


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God is dead ? Nietzsche

Nietzsche is dead ? God

And so the question runs around its head,

To slink down years and prowl from mind to mind.

What rage to thinkers young and old you fed

And bade them peel the everlasting rind!

Now fallen unto me; I saw you from

Afar. No tragic thinker will I be,

Who sought the wise but played in end the dumb

When tangled in your mired philosophy.

It had been said by Socrates that there

Must be an absolute, and therefore you

Must hence exist to guide with hemlock fare

The soul down paths both beautiful and true;

And our Russian kin have said that faith

Cannot be touched by intellect, and man

So not to be insane, become a wraith,

Must leap and trust the enigmatic plan.

And others say that you are but a dream,

Mere vanity or solace for the souls

Who must conjure from void some blissful steam

To reassure their hearts like fading coals.

And I?I give no answer, I know not

What brutal truth or gentle lie may be,

Nor what the agony my choice has wrought

Now that I wander blind upon this sea.



1. The ouroboros is a snake that constantly devours its tail. Like yin and yang, it is infinite, eternal, unanswerable.

2. The 'everlasting rind' refers to the forbidden fruit, as the rind is the skin of, say, an orange, that you have to peel.

3. Socrates argued, as written down by Plato, that there was an absolute justice, absolute beauty, etc. He died by drinking hemlock.

4. The 'Russian kin' refers to Ivan Karamazov, one of the central characters in The Brothers Karamazov. Ivan was fiercely intellectual and questioned God's existence, which eventually led to his insanity.

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