Nietzsche’s poem on Heraclitus

Ecce Homo

Yea, I know from whence I came!

Never satiate, like the flame

Glow I and consume me too

Into light turns what I find,

Cinders do I leave behind,

Flame am I, ’tis surely true.

Ja! Ich weiß, woher ich stamme!

Ungesättigt gleich der Flamme

glühe und verzehr’ ich mich.

Licht wird alles, was ich fasse,

Kohle alles, was ich lasse:

Flamme bin ich sicherlich!


Heraclitus’s everlasting flame, the creator and destroyer, is found within Nietzsche as a bearer of his essence. According to Georgoulis (‘The spiritual heritage of Heraclitus’, in Heraclitus, Cactus Editions) Nietzsche is paraphrasing the ambiguous fragment of Heraclitus:

Man kindles a light for himself in the night-time, when he has died but is alive. The sleeper, whose vision has been put out, lights up from the dead; he that is awake lights up from the sleeping.

DK 26

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