Ihr sollt Dichter eures Lebens sein!

“Ihr sollt Dichter eures Lebens sein!” said Nietzsche. Translation:  You should be the poet of your life! Or, you should make a work of art out of your life. When I think of people who did, I think of Buddha, Socrates, Alexander the Great, Jesus, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Villon, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Goethe, Byron, Beethoven, Pushkin, Lermontov, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Mark Twain, Van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway and Bukowski. I’m sure there were plenty others too. I’m also pretty sure none of them were academics, MFA grads, or profligators of tame and clever verse, which the innocuous poetry zines of today abound with. “Ihr sollt Dichter eures Lebens sein!” It’s one of the most inspiring aphorisms I know, and yet how many are or even try? I would like to think that I at least try – whether I succeed or not will only be known in the end – but I refuse to live a quarter or half-life the meantime, trying to hide the fact with words. Only a philosopher can pull that off. The rest just bore.