THE STILLEST HOUR
What hath happened unto me, my friends? Ye see me troubled, driven forth, unwillingly obedient, ready to go—alas, to go away from YOU!
Yea, once more must Zarathustra retire to his solitude: but unjoyously this time doth the bear go back to his cave!
What hath happened unto me? Who ordereth this?—Ah, mine angry mistress wisheth it so; she spake unto me. Have I ever named her name to you?
Yesterday towards evening there spake unto me MY STILLEST 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 ye know the terror of him who falleth asleep?—
To the very toes he is terrified, because the ground giveth way under him, and the dream beginneth.
This do I speak unto you in parable. Yesterday at the stillest 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 unto me without voice: “THOU KNOWEST 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 unto me without voice: “Thou knowest it, Zarathustra, but thou dost not speak it!”—
And at last I answered, like one defiant: “Yea, I know it, but I will not speak it!”
Then was there again spoken unto me without voice: “Thou WILT not, Zarathustra? Is this true? Conceal thyself not behind thy 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 unto me without voice: “What matter about thyself, Zarathustra! Speak thy word, and succumb!”
And I answered: “Ah, is it MY word? Who am I? I await the worthier one; I am not worthy even to succumb by it.”
Then was there again spoken unto me without voice: “What matter about thyself? Thou art not yet humble enough for me. Humility hath the hardest skin.”—
And I answered: “What hath not the skin of my humility endured! At the foot of my height do I dwell: how high are my summits, no one hath yet told me. But well do I know my valleys.”
Then was there again spoken unto me without voice: “O Zarathustra, he who hath to remove mountains removeth also valleys and plains.”—
And I answered: “As yet hath my word not removed mountains, and what I have spoken hath not reached man. I went, indeed, unto men, but not yet have I attained unto them.”
Then was there again spoken unto me without voice: “What knowest thou THEREOF! The dew falleth on the grass when the night is most silent.”—
And I answered: “They mocked me when I found and walked in mine own path; and certainly did my feet then tremble.
And thus did they speak unto me: Thou forgottest the path before, now dost thou also forget how to walk!”
Then was there again spoken unto me without voice: “What matter about their mockery! Thou art one who hast unlearned to obey: now shalt thou command!
Knowest thou not who is most needed by all? He who commandeth great things.
To execute great things is difficult: but the more difficult task is to command great things.
This is thy most unpardonable obstinacy: thou hast the power, and thou wilt not rule.”—
And I answered: “I lack the lion’s voice for all commanding.”
Then was there again spoken unto me as a whispering: “It is the stillest words which bring the storm. Thoughts that come with doves’ footsteps guide the world.
O Zarathustra, thou shalt go as a shadow of that which is to come: thus wilt thou command, and in commanding go foremost.”—
And I answered: “I am ashamed.”
Then was there again spoken unto me without voice: “Thou must yet become a child, and be without shame.
The pride of youth is still upon thee; late hast thou become young: but he who would become a child must surmount 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 unto me for the last time: “O Zarathustra, thy fruits are ripe, but thou art not ripe for thy fruits!
So must thou go again into solitude: for thou shalt 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 ye heard all, and why I have to return into my solitude. Nothing have I kept hidden from you, my friends.
But even this have ye 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 unto you! I should have something more to give unto 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.