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Chapter 7: Of the Stillest Hour

Zarathustra tells his disciples he must go back into solitude again, although he does so reluctantly, because the evening before, his “stillest hour” had spoken to him. He recounts what happened.

I tell you this in a parable. Yesterday, at the stillest hour, the ground seemed to give way: my dream began.
The hand moved, the clock of my life held its breath - I had never heard such stillness about me: so that my heart was terrified.
Then, voicelessly, something said to me: “You know, Zarathustra?”
And I cried out for terror at this whisper, and the blood drained from my face: but I kept silent.
Then again, something said to me voicelessly: “You know, Zarathustra, but you do not speak!”
And I answered at last defiantly: “Yes, I know, but I will not speak!”
Then again something said to me voicelessly: “You will not, Zarathustra? Is this true? Do not hide yourself in your defiance!”
And I wept and trembled like a child and said: “Alas, I want to, but how can I? Release me from this alone! It is beyond my strength!”
Then again something said to me voicelessly: “Of what consequence are you, Zarathustra? Speak your teaching and break!”
And I answered, “Ah, is it my teaching? Who am I? I await one who is more worthy; I am not worthy even to break by it..”
Then again something said to me voicelessly, “Oh, Zarathustra, he who has to move mountains moves valleys and lowlands, too.”
And I answered: “My words have as yet moved no mountains and what I have spoken has not reached men. Indeed, I went to men, but I have not yet attained them.”
Then again something said to me voicelessly: “How do you know that? The dew falls upon the grass when the night is at its most silent.”
And I answered, “They mocked me when I found and walked my own way. And in truth my feet trembled then.”
And they spoke thus to me: “You have forgotten the way, now you will also forget how to walk!”
Then again something said to me voicelessly: “Of what consequence is their mockery? You are one who has unlearned how to obey: now you shall command!
“Do you know what it is all men most need? Him who commands great things.
“To perform great things is difficult: but more difficult is to command great things.
“This is the most unpardonable thing about you: you have the power and you will not rule.”
And I answered: “I lack the lion’s voice for command.”
Then again something said to me in a whisper: “It is the stillest words which bring the storm. Thoughts that come on doves’ feet guide the world.
“O Zarathustra, you shall go as a shadow of that which must come: thus you will command and commanding lead the way.”
And I answered: “I am ashamed.”
Then again something said to me voicelessly: “You must yet become a child and without shame.”
And I considered long and trembled. At last, however, I said what I had said at first: “I will not.”
Then a laughing broke out around me. Alas, how this laughing tore my body and ripped open my heart!
And for the last time, something said to me: “Oh Zarathustra, your fruits are ripe, but you are not ripe for your fruits!
“So you must go back into solitude: for you shall yet grow mellow..”

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