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【P1C8】The Tree on the Hill

Zarathustra’s eye had perceived that a certain youth avoided him. And as he walked alone one evening over the hills surrounding the town called “The Pied Cow,” behold, there he found the youth sitting leaning against a tree, and gazing with wearied look into the valley.

Zarathustra then laid hold of the tree beside which the youth sat, and spoke thus:

“If I wished to shake this tree with my hands, I should not be able to do so.

But the wind, which we do not see, troubles and bends it as it lists. We are worst bent and troubled by invisible hands.”

Then the youth arose disconcerted, and said: “I hear Zarathustra, and just now was I thinking of him!” Zarathustra answered:

“Why are you frightened on that account?- But it is the same with man as with the tree.

The more he seeks to rise into the height and light, the more vigorously do his roots struggle earthward, downward, into the dark and deep- into evil.”

“Yes, into evil!” cried the youth. “How is it possible that you have discovered my soul?”

Zarathustra smiled, and said: “Many a soul one can never discover, unless one firsts invents it.”

“Yes, into evil!” cried the youth once more.

“You said the truth, Zarathustra. I trust myself no longer since I sought to rise into the height, and nobody trusts me any longer; how does that happen?

I change too quickly: my today refutes my yesterday. I often overleap the steps when I climb; none of the steps pardons me for it.

When aloft, I find myself always alone. No one speaks to me; the frost of solitude makes me tremble. What do I seek in the heights?

My contempt and my longing increase together; the higher I climb, the more do I despise him who climbs. What does he seek in the heights?

How ashamed I am of my climbing and stumbling! How I mock my violent panting! How I hate him who flies! How tired I am on the height!”

Here the youth was silent. And Zarathustra contemplated the tree beside which they stood, and spoke thus:

“This tree stands lonely here on the hills; it has grown up high above man and beast.

And if it wanted to speak, there would be no one who could understand it: so high has it grown.

Now it waits and waits,- for what does it wait? It dwells too close to the seat of the clouds; it waits- for the lightning?”

When Zarathustra had said this, the youth called out with violent gestures: “Yes, Zarathustra, you speak the truth. I longed for my destruction, when I wanted to be in the heights, and you are the lightning for which I waited! Behold, what have I been since you have appeared amongst us? It is my envy of you that has destroyed me!”- Thus spoke the youth, and wept bitterly. Zarathustra, however, put his arm about him, and led the youth away with him.

And when they had walked a while together, Zarathustra began to speak thus:

It rends my heart. Better than your words can express it, your eyes tell me all your danger.

You are not yet free; you still search for freedom. You are too weary from your search, and too wakeful.

You aspire to the heights; you thirst for the stars. But your evil impulses also thirst for freedom.

Your wild dogs want freedom; they bark for joy in their cellar when your spirit trys to open all prison doors.

To me you are still a prisoner who seeks his freedom: ah! in such prisoners the soul becomes clever, but also deceitful and wicked.

And the liberated spirit must still purify himself. Much of the prison and the mould still remains in him: his eye has still to become pure.

Yes, I know your danger. But by my love and hope I beseech you: do not throw away your love and hope!

You still feel noble, and others still feel your nobility, though they bear you a grudge and cast evil glances. Know that the noble one stands in everyones way.

To the good, also, a noble one stands in the way: and even when they call him a good man, they want to push him aside.

The noble man would create the new, and a new virtue. The good want the old, and that the old should be preserved.

But it is not the danger of the noble man that he might become one of the good, but that he might become a blusterer, a scoffer, or a destroyer.

Ah! I have known noble ones who lost their highest hope. And then they slandered all high hopes.

Then they lived shamelessly in brief pleasures, only lived from day to day.

“Spirit too is lust,”- they said. The wings of their spirit are broken; and now their spirit crawls about, and defiles what it gnaws.

Once they thought of becoming heroes; now they are libertines. The idea of the hero offends and troubles them.

But by my love and hope I beseech you: do not throw away the hero in your soul! Keep sacred your highest hope!-

Thus spoke Zarathustra.