Thus Spake Zarathustra: The Stillest Hour

Previous Post: Manly Discipline


Finally Zarathustra’s time with his disciples once again comes to an end, and he gives this final message before once more returning to solitude.

* * *

What has happened to me, my friends? You see me troubled, driven forth, unwillingly obedient, ready to go away from you! Once more Zarathustra must return to his solitude. This time the bear goes back to his cave without joy!

What has happened to me? Who orders this? My angry mistress wishes it so. She spoke to me. Have I ever told you her name? Yesterday towards evening my Stillest Hour spoke to me. That is the name of my terrible mistress.

This is how it happened. I must tell you everything, so that your hearts don’t harden against the suddenly departing one! Do you know the terror of one who falls asleep? To the very toes he is terrified, because the ground gives way under him, and the dream begins.

This I tell you as a parable. Yesterday at the stillest hour the ground gave way under me. The dream began. The hour hand moved on, the timepiece of my life drew breath. I had never heard such stillness around me, and my heart was terrified.

“You know it, Zarathustra?” was spoken to me without a voice.

I cried in terror at this whispering, and the blood left my face. But I was silent. Then once more something spoke to me without a voice:

“You know it, Zarathustra, but you do not say it!”

“Yea, I know it, but I will not speak of it!” I answered at last, defiant.

“You will not, Zarathustra?” the voiceless voice asked me. “Is this true? Do not conceal yourself behind your defiance!”

I wept and trembled like a child.

“I would indeed, but how can I!” I said. “Let me abstain only from this one thing! It is beyond my power!”

“What do you matter, Zarathustra!” said the voiceless one. “Speak your word, and succumb!”

“Is it my word?” I demanded. “Who am I? I await a worthier one. I am not worthy even to submit by it.”

“What do you matter?” the voiceless one repeated. “You are not yet humble enough for me. Humility has the hardest skin.”

“What hasn’t the skin of my humility endured?” I asked. “I live at the bottom of my heights. How high my summits are, no one has yet told me. But I know my valleys well.”

“Zarathustra, he who needs to move mountains must also move valleys and plains,” said the voiceless voice.

“As yet has my word not moved mountains, and what I have said has not reached man,” I said. “I went to men, but I have yet to reach them.”

“What do you know of that!” said the voiceless voice. “The dew falls on the grass when the night is most silent.”

“They mocked me when I found and walked my own path,” I said, “and certainly my feet then trembled. They tell me I forgot the path before, and ask if I have also forgotten how to walk!”

“What does their mockery matter!” said the voiceless voice. “You are one who have unlearned to obey. Now you shall command! Do you not know who is most needed by all? He who commands great things. To accomplish great things is difficult. But it is more difficult still to command great things. This is your most unpardonable obstinacy: you have the power, and you will not rule.”

“I lack the lion’s voice for commanding,” I said.

“It is the stillest words which bring the storm,” it whispered to me. “Thoughts that come with doves’ footsteps guide the world. Zarathustra, you will be a shadow of that which is to come. So will you command, and in commanding go foremost.”

“I am ashamed,” I said.

“You must become a child, and be without shame,” said the voiceless voice. “The pride of youth is still upon you. Lately you have become young. But he who would become a child must surpass even his youth.”

I considered a long while, and trembled. At last, however, did I say what I had said at first.

“I will not.”

Then laughter came from all around me. How that laughter lacerated my bowels and cut into my heart! And the voiceless one spoke to me for the last time.

“Zarathustra, your fruits are ripe, but you are not ripe for your fruits! You must go once more into solitude. You shall yet become mellow.”

Again there was laughter, and then it fled. Everything become still around me, a double stillness. I lay on the ground, and the sweat flowed from my limbs.

Now have you heard everything, and why I have to return to my solitude. I’ve kept nothing hidden from you, my friends. But even this yo have heard from me, who is still the most reserved of men, and will remain so!

Ah, my friends! I should have something more to say to you! I should have something more to give to you! Why do I not give it? Am I ta cheapskate?

When 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, and he wept aloud. No one knew how to console him. In the night, he went off alone and left his friends.

Next Post: The Wanderer

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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2 Responses to Thus Spake Zarathustra: The Stillest Hour

  1. Pingback: Thus Spake Zarathustra: Manly Discipline | Jim's Jumbler

  2. Pingback: Thus Spake Zarathustra: The Wanderer | Jim's Jumbler

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