【P2C22】The Stillest Hour

What has happened to me, my friends? You see me troubled, driven forth, unwillingly obedient, ready to go- alas, to go away from you!

Yes, once more must Zarathustra retire to his solitude: but unjoyously this time does the bear go back to his cave!

What has happened to me? Who orders this?- Ah, my angry mistress wishes it so; she spoke to me. Have I ever named her name to you?

Yesterday towards evening there spoke to me my still hour: that is the name of my terrible mistress.

And thus did it happen- for everything must I tell you, that your heart may not harden against the suddenly departing one!

Do you know the terror of him who falls asleep?-

To the very toes he is terrified, because the ground gives way under him, and the dream begins.

This do I speak to you in parable. Yesterday at the still hour did the ground give way under me: the dream began.

The hour-hand moved on, the timepiece of my life drew breath- never did I hear such stillness around me, so that my heart was terrified.

Then was there spoken to me without voice: “You know it, Zarathustra?”-

And I cried in terror at this whispering, and the blood left my face: but I was silent.

Then was there once more spoken to me without voice: “You know it, Zarathustra, but you do not speak it!”-

And at last I answered, like one defiant: “Yes, I know it, but I will not speak it!”

Then was there again spoken to me without voice: “You will not, Zarathustra? Is this true? Conceal yourself not behind your defiance!”-

And I wept and trembled like a child, and said: “Ah, I would indeed, but how can I do it! Exempt me only from this! It is beyond my power!”

Then was there again spoken to me without voice: “What matter about yourself, Zarathustra! Speak your word, and perish!”

And I answered: “Ah, is it my word? Who am I? I await the worthier one; I am not worthy even to perish by it.”

Then was there again spoken to me without voice: “What matter about yourself? you are not yet humble enough for me. Humility has the hardest skin.”-

And I answered: “What has not the skin of my humility endured! At the foot of my height do I dwell: how high are my summits, no one has yet told me. But well do I know my valleys.”

Then was there again spoken to me without voice: “O Zarathustra, he who has to remove mountains removes also valleys and plains.”-

And I answered: “As yet has my word not removed mountains, and what I have spoken has not reached man. I went, indeed, to men, but not yet have I attained to them.”

Then was there again spoken to me without voice: “What know you thereof! The dew falls on the grass when the night is most silent.”-

And I answered: “They mocked me when I found and walked in my own path; and certainly did my feet then tremble.

And thus did they speak to me: you forgot the path before, now do you also forget how to walk!”

Then was there again spoken to me without voice: “What matter about their mockery! you are one who have unlearned to obey: now shall you command!

Know you not who is most needed by all? He who commands great things.

To execute great things is difficult: but the more difficult task is to command great things.

This is your most unpardonable obstinacy: you have the power, and you will not rule.”-

And I answered: “I lack the lion’s voice for all commanding.”

Then was there again spoken to me as a whispering: “It is the still words which bring the storm. Thoughts that come with doves’ footsteps guide the world.

Zarathustra, you shall go as a shadow of that which is to come: thus will you command, and in commanding go foremost.”-

And I answered: “I am ashamed.”

Then was there again spoken to me without voice: “You must yet become a child, and be without shame.

The pride of youth is still upon you; late have you become young: but he who would become a child must overcome even his youth.”-

And I considered a long while, and trembled. At last, however, did I say what I had said at first. “I will not.”

Then did a laughing take place all around me. Alas, how that laughing lacerated my bowels and cut into my heart!

And there was spoken to me for the last time: “O Zarathustra, your fruits are ripe, but you are not ripe for your fruits!

So must you go again into solitude: for you shall yet become mellow.”-

And again was there a laughing, and it fled: then did it become still around me, as with a double stillness. I lay, however, on the ground, and the sweat flowed from my limbs.

-Now have you heard all, and why I have to return into my solitude. Nothing have I kept hidden from you, my friends.

But even this have you heard from me, who is still the most reserved of men- and will be so!

Ah, my friends! I should have something more to say to you! I should have something more to give to you! Why do I not give it? Am I then a niggard?-

When, however, Zarathustra had spoken these words, the violence of his pain, and a sense of the nearness of his departure from his friends came over him, so that he wept aloud; and no one knew how to console him. In the night, however, he went away alone and left his friends.