SCHOPENHAUER AT THE ENGLISCHER HOF
I have been called a pessimist. I am.
What man who calls himself a thoughtful man,
a feeling man, can be ought else? The wine?
The wine is good, but I prefer the beer.
I took no wife because I wanted none.
I live alone because I wish to live
alone. The passions must be overcome.
I recommend the veal. It’s excellent.
The monarchs made a mockery of hope.
My father was a businessman. He killed
himself when I was seventeen. I left
my mother’s house soon afterward because
she chose a life I could not tolerate
to look upon. She was a novelist,
you know, received the intellectuals
of Weimar in her parlor. And her bed.
She let old Goethe bring his Christiane
with him, but when he told her I, her son,
would be a very famous man, she pushed
me down the stairs. Her name is only known
through me, the bitch. Who reads her novels now?
I come to dine here almost every day.
Before I start I place a coin – this one –
beside the plate, and when I’m done, I put
the coin back in my pocket once again.
It is a wager that I’ve made myself
to drop it in the poor box of the church
the day the English officers who dine
at this establishment should talk of else
than horses, women , or dogs. Here, I have
one. His name is Atma. It means World- Soul.
Why was my masterpiece unrecognized?
Because just those who could have given it
publicity – the university
philosophers – I have attacked in it.
Ah, yes, good man, the veal for both of us.
The rule, I sing the song of him whose bread
I eat, has always held. It now, too, holds.
I make no living from philosophy.
I have inherited an interest in
my father’s firm, and that has been enough.
The life of every individual,
when we survey it as a whole and stress
its most important parts, is tragedy.
But in the details, always comedy.
The world is bankrupt in the end, and life’s
a business which does not recoup expense.
All happiness requires ignorance
or youth, for youth and ignorance are one.
The fear of death is the beginning of
philosophy, religion’s final cause.
Diogenes refused to breathe – and died.
A brilliant victory! Alas, how vain.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
This is the essence of philosophy.
The true philosophy of history
lies in perceiving this eternal truth.
In general, the wise have always said
the same. The fools have acted all alike
as well and done the opposite. And thus
reality is suffering and pain.
And thus the genius suffers most of all.
You hear? You hear the English gentlemen?
The coin is in my pocket yet again.
J.R. Solonche has been publishing in magazines, journals, and anthologies since the 70s. He is the author of twenty books of poetry and coauthor of another. He lives in the Hudson Valley.