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【P4C10】At Noontide

-And Zarathustra ran and ran, but he found no one else, and was alone and ever found himself again; he enjoyed and quaffed his solitude, and thought of good things- for hours. About the hour of noontide, however, when the sun stood exactly over Zarathustra’s head, he passed an old, bent and gnarled tree, which was encircled round by the ardent love of a vine, and hidden from itself; from this there hung yellow grapes in abundance, confronting the wanderer. Then he felt inclined to quench a little thirst, and to break off for himself a cluster of grapes. When, however, he had already his arm out-stretched for that purpose, he felt still more inclined for something else- namely, to lie down beside the tree at the hour of perfect noontide and sleep.

This Zarathustra did; and no sooner had he laid himself on the ground in the stillness and secrecy of the variegated grass, than he had forgotten his little thirst, and fell asleep. For as the aphorism of Zarathustra says: “One thing is more necessary than the other.” Only that his eyes remained open:- for they never grew weary of viewing and admiring the tree and the love of the vine. In falling asleep, however, Zarathustra spoke thus to his heart:

“Hush! Hush! has not the world now become perfect? What has happened to me?

As a delicate wind dances invisibly upon parqueted seas, light, feather-light, so- dances sleep upon me.

No eye does it close to me, it leaves my soul awake. Light is it, verily, feather-light.

It persuades me, I know not how, it touches me inwardly with a caressing hand, it constrains me. Yes, it constrains me, so that my soul stretches itself out:-

-How long and weary it becomes, my strange soul! has a seventh-day evening come to it precisely at noontide? has it already wandered too long, blissfully, among good and ripe things?

It stretches itself out, long- longer! it lies still, my strange soul. Too many good things has it already tasted; this golden sadness oppresses it, it distorts its mouth.

-As a ship that puts into the calmest cove:- it now draws up to the land, weary of long voyages and uncertain seas. Is not the land more faithful?

As such a ship hugs the shore, tugs the shore:- then it suffices for a spider to spin its thread from the ship to the land. No stronger ropes are required there.

As such a weary ship in the calmest cove, so do I also now repose, nigh to the earth, faithful, trusting, waiting, bound to it with the lightest threads.

O happiness! O happiness! Will you perhaps sing, O my soul? you lie in the grass. But this is the secret, solemn hour, when no shepherd plays his pipe.

Take care! Hot noontide sleeps on the fields. Do not sing! Hush! The world is perfect.

Do not sing, you prairie-bird, my soul! Do not even whisper! Lo- hush! The old noontide sleeps, it moves its mouth: does it not just now drink a drop of happiness-

-An old brown drop of golden happiness, golden wine? Something whisks over it, its happiness laughs. Thus- laughs a God. Hush!-

-‘For happiness, how little suffices for happiness!’ Thus spoke I once and thought myself wise. But it was a blasphemy: that have I now learned. Wise fools speak better.

The least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a whisk, an eye-glance- little makes up the best happiness. Hush!

-What has befallen me: Hark! has time flown away? Do I not fall? Have I not fallen- hark! into the well of eternity?

-What happens to me? Hush! It stings me- alas- to the heart? To the heart! Oh, break up, break up, my heart, after such happiness, after such a sting!

-What? has not the world just now become perfect? Round and ripe? Oh, for the golden round ring- where does it fly? Let me run after it! Quick!

Hush- -“ (and here Zarathustra stretched himself, and felt that he was asleep.)

“Up!” said he to himself, “you sleeper! you noontide sleeper! Well then, up, you old legs! It is time and more than time; many a good stretch of road is still awaiting you-

Now have you slept your fill; for how long a time? A half-eternity! Well then, up now, my old heart! For how long after such a sleep may you- remain awake?”

(But then did he fall asleep anew, and his soul spoke against him and defended itself, and lay down again)- “Leave me alone! Hush! has not the world just now become perfect? Oh, for the golden round ball!-

“Get up,” said Zarathustra, “you little thief, you sluggard! What! Still stretching yourself, yawning, sighing, failing into deep wells?

Who are you then, O my soul!” (and here he became frightened, for a sunbeam shot down from heaven upon his face.)

“O heaven above me,” said he sighing, and sat upright, “you gaze at me? you hearken to my strange soul?

When will you drink this drop of dew that fell down upon all earthly things,- when will you drink this strange soul-

-When, you well of eternity! you joyous, awful, noontide abyss! when will you drink my soul back into you?”

Thus spoke Zarathustra, and rose from his couch beside the tree, as if awakening from a strange drunkenness: and behold! there stood the sun still exactly above his head. One might, however, rightly infer therefrom that Zarathustra had not then slept long.