Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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Prose and Poetry.

Let it be observed that the great masters of prose have almost always been poets as well, whether openly or only "in the closet".  And in truth one only writes good prose in view of poetry!  For prose is an uninterrupted, polite warfare with poetry ; all its charm consists in the fact that poetry is constantly avoided and contradicted ; every abstraction wants to have a gibe at poetry, and wishes to be uttered with a mocking voice.  All dryness and coolness is meant to bring the amiable goddess into an amiable despair ; there are often approximations and reconciliations for the moment, and then a sudden recoil and a burst of laughter ; the curtain is often drawn up and dazzling light let in just while the goddess is enjoying her twilights and dull colours.  The word is often taken out of her mouth and chanted to a melody while she holds her fine hands before her delicate little ears : and so there are a thousand enjoyments of the warfare, the defeats included, of which the unpoetic, the so called prose men know nothing at all.  They consequently write and speak only bad prose!  Warfare is the father of all good things, it is also the father of good prose!  There have been four very singular and truly poetical men in this century who have arrived at mastership in prose, for which other wise this century is not suited, owing to lack of poetry, as we have indicated.  Not to take Goethe into account, for he is reasonably claimed by the century that produced him, I look only on Giacomo Leopardi, Prosper Merimee, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Walter Savage Landor the author of Imaginary Conversations, as worthy to be called masters of prose.  
 

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