The Vision and the Enigma


When it got abroad among the sailors that Zarathustra was on board the ship—for a man who came from the Happy Isles had gone on board along with him—there was great curiosity and expectation. But Zarathustra kept silent for two days, and was cold and deaf with sadness, so that he neither answered looks nor questions. On the evening of the second day, however, he again opened his ears, though he still kept silent; for there were many curious and dangerous things to be heard on board the ship, which came from afar, and was to go still further. Zarathustra, however, was fond of all those who make distant voyages and dislike to live without danger. And behold, when listening, his own tongue was at last loosened, and the ice of his heart broke! Then did he begin to speak thus:

To you, the daring venturers and adventurers, and whoever hath embarked with cunning sails upon frightful seas—

To you the enigma-intoxicated, the twilight-enjoyers, whose souls are allured by flutes to every treacherous gulf—

For ye dislike to grope at a thread with cowardly hand; and where ye can divine, there do ye hate to calculate

To you only do I tell the enigma that I saw—the vision of the lonesomest one—

Gloomily walked I lately in corpse-coloured twilight—gloomily and sternly, with compressed lips. Not only one sun had set for me.

A path which ascended daringly among boulders, an evil, lonesome path, which neither herb nor shrub any longer cheered, a mountain-path, crunched under the daring of my foot.

Mutely marching over the scornful clinking of pebbles, trampling the stone that let it slip: thus did my foot force his way upwards.

Upwards—in spite of the spirit that drew it downwards, towards the abyss, the spirit of gravity, my devil and arch-enemy.

Upwards—although it sat upon me, half-dwarf, half-mole, paralysed, paralysing, dripping lead in mine ear, and thoughts like drops of lead into my brain.

‘O Zarathustra,’ it whispered scornfully, syllable by syllable, ‘thou stone of wisdom! Thou threwest thyself high, but every thrown stone must—fall!

O Zarathustra, thou stone of wisdom, thou sling-stone, thou star-destroyer! Thyself threwest thou so high, but every thrown stone—must fall!

Condemned of thyself, and to thine own stoning: O Zarathustra, far indeed threwest thou thy stone—but upon thyself will it recoil!’

Then was the dwarf silent; and it lasted long. The silence, however, oppressed me; and to be thus in pairs, one is verily lonesomer than when alone!

I ascended, I ascended, I dreamt, I thought—but everything oppressed me. A sick one did I resemble, whom bad torture wearieth, and a worse dream reawakeneth out of his first sleep.

But there is something in me which I call courage; it hath hitherto slain for me every dejection. This courage at last bade me stand still and say: ‘Dwarf! Thou, or I!’

For courage is the best slayer—courage which attacketh; for in every attack there is sound of triumph.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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