David W. Landrum

Nietzsche’s Walks

He walked a lot—a lot. His busy mind
no doubt would focus on philosophy
as he strode forward—but he was not blind
to everything around him. He would see

nature in all its glory:  towering trees
to tiny blades of grass; birds in the sky
and clouds billowing, scudding in the breeze
above the earth. The endless questions—Why?

and Whence?—would spoil his leisure. Everything
demanded explanation. Genesis
was myth;  yet when he heard a songbird sing
it seemed a poem, a psalm with full intent

and not a mating call. It was a song;  
a function, yes, of course; but beautiful—
(and what was beauty?); still, would it be wrong
to think that both existed and could pull

the soul into thoughts of sublimity 
and loveliness. Signal sent through the air?
There must be more. Somehow, there had to be
a place for beauty. It was everywhere

and rose to soar past explanation’s reach.
An attribution of transcendence seemed
completely logical—and to impeach
the idea of beauty—which redeemed

existence from a mechanistic frame
with stimuli and functionality
its only attribute—this seemed a shame
no one could face; to look at it and see

only a trick of light produced within
the eye by chemicals; the scent of pine
response of sensors in the nose;  the wind
perceived by nerve endings that told the mind

a fact of nature. Beauty was exiled 
by reasoning! No way it could be so!
And yet it seemed to be. He was beguiled
by what he felt and what he’d come to know.

David W. Landrum lives in Grand Rapids Michigan and is retired from Grand Valley State University. His poetry has appeared widely in literary journals for many years. His latest publications include two poems on the War in Ukraine in a volume titled Busy Griefs, Raw Towns, made up of selections by West Michigan poets, the proceeds of which go to relief efforts in that conflict.