Say Yes to Everything

Hermann Hesse

10

BY HERMANN HESSE


There is no escape. You can’t be a vagabond
and an artist and still be a solid citizen,
a wholesome, upstanding man. You want to get drunk,
so you have to accept the hangover. You say yes
to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have
to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything
is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain,
the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death.
Say yes to everything, shirk nothing. Don’t try to lie
to yourself. You are not a solid citizen. You are not
a Greek. You are not harmonious, or the master
of yourself.

You are a bird in the storm. Let it storm!
Let it drive you!

How much have you lied! A thousand times,
even in your poems and books,
you have played the harmonious man,
the wise man, the happy, the enlightened man.
In the same way, men attacking
in war have played heroes,
while their bowels twitched. My God,
what a poor ape,
what a fencer in the mirror
man is – particularly the artist-
particularly myself!

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