|Lou von Salomé as a teenager
As truly as I'd love a friend,
I have always loved you, riddling life,
whether I've laughed with you or wept,
whether you have brought me pleasure or strife.
Even in your sorrow I love you,
and, when you scatter me through space,
I will tear myself out of your arms
as a friend from a friend's embrace.
With all my strength I cling to you!
Let all your fire enkindle me.
Even in the heat of battle
let me unravel your mysteries.
Thousand of years to live and to think!
In your arms I long to remain.
And, when you have no more joy to give --
very well -- you still have your pain.
"Lebensgebet," Lou Andreas-Salomé
Translated by Frank Beck
In 1880 Lou von Salomé of St. Petersburg was 19 and studying at the University of Zurich, one of the first universities to accept female students. She audited courses in philosophy, theology and art history. At the same time, she wrote poems, including this bold declaration to accept whatever life might bring her.
Two years later in Rome, Lou struck up a friendship with 37-year-old Friedrich Nietzsche, who liked her poem so much he set it to music. In an 1882 letter to Ida Overbeck, he wrote, "I found no more gifted or reflective spirit. Lou is by far the most intelligent person I have ever become acquainted with."
Lou went on to become Rilke's "lover, mother and muse" and a pioneering psychoanalyst to whom Freud sometimes referred patients.
A 2016 feature film by Cordula Kablitz-Post tells the story of her life. It is available on Vimeo and other streaming platforms and on BluRay/DVD.
In June 2021 Raleigh Whitinger and I published the first English translation of Andreas-Salomé's 1921 novel, Das Haus.
- Lou Andreas-Salome's 1921 novel, Das Haus
- VIDEO: A scene from the film and my review
- A behind-the-scenes look at Cordula Kablitz-Post's film
- VIDEO: The French release from Bodega Films
- VIDEO: Scenes from the Spanish release
- Watch the film on Vimeo
- Salome's poem in German
- Nietzsche's musical setting of the poem
|The University of Zurich, where Salomé studied in 1880-81