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- Thus Spake Zarathustra - 30/76 -
however, came unto his disciples as from afar:
Hear, I pray you, the dream that I dreamed, my friends, and help me to divine its meaning!
A riddle is it still unto me, this dream; the meaning is hidden in it and encaged, and doth not yet fly above it on free pinions.
All life had I renounced, so I dreamed. Night-watchman and grave-guardian had I become, aloft, in the lone mountain-fortress of Death.
There did I guard his coffins: full stood the musty vaults of those trophies of victory. Out of glass coffins did vanquished life gaze upon me.
The odour of dust-covered eternities did I breathe: sultry and dust- covered lay my soul. And who could have aired his soul there!
Brightness of midnight was ever around me; lonesomeness cowered beside her; and as a third, death-rattle stillness, the worst of my female friends.
Keys did I carry, the rustiest of all keys; and I knew how to open with them the most creaking of all gates.
Like a bitterly angry croaking ran the sound through the long corridors when the leaves of the gate opened: ungraciously did this bird cry, unwillingly was it awakened.
But more frightful even, and more heart-strangling was it, when it again became silent and still all around, and I alone sat in that malignant silence.
Thus did time pass with me, and slip by, if time there still was: what do I know thereof! But at last there happened that which awoke me.
Thrice did there peal peals at the gate like thunders, thrice did the vaults resound and howl again: then did I go to the gate.
Alpa! cried I, who carrieth his ashes unto the mountain? Alpa! Alpa! who carrieth his ashes unto the mountain?
And I pressed the key, and pulled at the gate, and exerted myself. But not a finger's-breadth was it yet open:
Then did a roaring wind tear the folds apart: whistling, whizzing, and piercing, it threw unto me a black coffin.
And in the roaring, and whistling, and whizzing the coffin burst up, and spouted out a thousand peals of laughter.
And a thousand caricatures of children, angels, owls, fools, and child- sized butterflies laughed and mocked, and roared at me.
Fearfully was I terrified thereby: it prostrated me. And I cried with horror as I ne'er cried before.
But mine own crying awoke me:--and I came to myself.--
Thus did Zarathustra relate his dream, and then was silent: for as yet he knew not the interpretation thereof. But the disciple whom he loved most arose quickly, seized Zarathustra's hand, and said:
"Thy life itself interpreteth unto us this dream, O Zarathustra!
Art thou not thyself the wind with shrill whistling, which bursteth open the gates of the fortress of Death?
Art thou not thyself the coffin full of many-hued malices and angel- caricatures of life?
Verily, like a thousand peals of children's laughter cometh Zarathustra into all sepulchres, laughing at those night-watchmen and grave-guardians, and whoever else rattleth with sinister keys.
With thy laughter wilt thou frighten and prostrate them: fainting and recovering will demonstrate thy power over them.
And when the long twilight cometh and the mortal weariness, even then wilt thou not disappear from our firmament, thou advocate of life!
New stars hast thou made us see, and new nocturnal glories: verily, laughter itself hast thou spread out over us like a many-hued canopy.
Now will children's laughter ever from coffins flow; now will a strong wind ever come victoriously unto all mortal weariness: of this thou art thyself the pledge and the prophet!
Verily, THEY THEMSELVES DIDST THOU DREAM, thine enemies: that was thy sorest dream.
But as thou awokest from them and camest to thyself, so shall they awaken from themselves--and come unto thee!"
Thus spake the disciple; and all the others then thronged around Zarathustra, grasped him by the hands, and tried to persuade him to leave his bed and his sadness, and return unto them. Zarathustra, however, sat upright on his couch, with an absent look. Like one returning from long foreign sojourn did he look on his disciples, and examined their features; but still he knew them not. When, however, they raised him, and set him upon his feet, behold, all on a sudden his eye changed; he understood everything that had happened, stroked his beard, and said with a strong voice:
"Well! this hath just its time; but see to it, my disciples, that we have a good repast; and without delay! Thus do I mean to make amends for bad dreams!
The soothsayer, however, shall eat and drink at my side: and verily, I will yet show him a sea in which he can drown himself!"--
Thus spake Zarathustra. Then did he gaze long into the face of the disciple who had been the dream-interpreter, and shook his head.--
When Zarathustra went one day over the great bridge, then did the cripples and beggars surround him, and a hunchback spake thus unto him:
"Behold, Zarathustra! Even the people learn from thee, and acquire faith in thy teaching: but for them to believe fully in thee, one thing is still needful--thou must first of all convince us cripples! Here hast thou now a fine selection, and verily, an opportunity with more than one forelock! The blind canst thou heal, and make the lame run; and from him who hath too much behind, couldst thou well, also, take away a little;--that, I think, would be the right method to make the cripples believe in Zarathustra!"
Zarathustra, however, answered thus unto him who so spake: When one taketh his hump from the hunchback, then doth one take from him his spirit--so do the people teach. And when one giveth the blind man eyes, then doth he see too many bad things on the earth: so that he curseth him who healed him. He, however, who maketh the lame man run, inflicteth upon him the greatest injury; for hardly can he run, when his vices run away with him--so do the people teach concerning cripples. And why should not Zarathustra also learn from the people, when the people learn from Zarathustra?
It is, however, the smallest thing unto me since I have been amongst men, to see one person lacking an eye, another an ear, and a third a leg, and that others have lost the tongue, or the nose, or the head.
I see and have seen worse things, and divers things so hideous, that I should neither like to speak of all matters, nor even keep silent about some of them: namely, men who lack everything, except that they have too much of one thing--men who are nothing more than a big eye, or a big mouth, or a big belly, or something else big,--reversed cripples, I call such men.
And when I came out of my solitude, and for the first time passed over this bridge, then I could not trust mine eyes, but looked again and again, and said at last: "That is an ear! An ear as big as a man!" I looked still more attentively--and actually there did move under the ear something that was pitiably small and poor and slim. And in truth this immense ear was perched on a small thin stalk--the stalk, however, was a man! A person putting a glass to his eyes, could even recognise further a small envious countenance, and also that a bloated soullet dangled at the stalk. The people told me, however, that the big ear was not only a man, but a great man, a genius. But I never believed in the people when they spake of great men--and I hold to my belief that it was a reversed cripple, who had too little of everything, and too much of one thing.
When Zarathustra had spoken thus unto the hunchback, and unto those of whom the hunchback was the mouthpiece and advocate, then did he turn to his disciples in profound dejection, and said:
Verily, my friends, I walk amongst men as amongst the fragments and limbs of human beings!
This is the terrible thing to mine eye, that I find man broken up, and scattered about, as on a battle- and butcher-ground.
And when mine eye fleeth from the present to the bygone, it findeth ever the same: fragments and limbs and fearful chances--but no men!
The present and the bygone upon earth--ah! my friends--that is MY most unbearable trouble; and I should not know how to live, if I were not a seer of what is to come.
A seer, a purposer, a creator, a future itself, and a bridge to the future --and alas! also as it were a cripple on this bridge: all that is Zarathustra.
And ye also asked yourselves often: "Who is Zarathustra to us? What shall he be called by us?" And like me, did ye give yourselves questions for answers.
Is he a promiser? Or a fulfiller? A conqueror? Or an inheritor? A harvest? Or a ploughshare? A physician? Or a healed one?
Is he a poet? Or a genuine one? An emancipator? Or a subjugator? A good one? Or an evil one?
I walk amongst men as the fragments of the future: that future which I contemplate.
And it is all my poetisation and aspiration to compose and collect into unity what is fragment and riddle and fearful chance.
And how could I endure to be a man, if man were not also the composer, and riddle-reader, and redeemer of chance!
To redeem what is past, and to transform every "It was" into "Thus would I
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