Cry of Distress
(1844 - 1900)
Thus Spake Zarathustra
sublime one saw I today, a solemn one, a penitent of the
spirit: Oh, how my soul laughed at his ugliness! (thus
THE next day sat Zarathustra
again on the stone in front of his cave, whilst his animals
roved about in the world outside to bring home new food,-
also new honey: for Zarathustra had spent and wasted the old
honey to the very last particle. When he thus sat, however,
with a stick in his hand, tracing the shadow of his figure
on the earth, and reflecting- verily! not upon himself and
his shadow,- all at once he startled and shrank back: for
he saw another shadow beside his own. And when he hastily
looked around and stood up, behold, there stood the soothsayer
beside him, the same whom he had once given to eat and drink
at his table, the proclaimer of the great weariness, who taught:
"All is alike, nothing is worth while, the world is without
meaning, knowledge strangleth." But his face had changed
since then; and when Zarathustra looked into his eyes, his
heart was startled once more: so much evil announcement and
ashy-grey lightnings passed over that countenance.
The soothsayer, who had perceived
what went on in Zarathustra's soul, wiped his face with his
hand, as if he would wipe out the impression; the same did
also Zarathustra. And when both of them had thus silently
composed and strengthened themselves, they gave each other
the hand, as a token that they wanted once more to recognise
said Zarathustra, "thou soothsayer of the great weariness,
not in vain shalt thou once have been my messmate and guest.
Eat and drink also with me to-day, and forgive it that a cheerful
old man sitteth with thee at table!"- "A cheerful
old man?" answered the soothsayer, shaking his head,
"but whoever thou art, or wouldst be, O Zarathustra,
thou hast been here aloft the longest time,- in a little while
thy bark shall no longer rest on dry land!"- "Do
I then rest on dry land?"- asked Zarathustra, laughing."The
waves around thy mountain," answered the soothsayer,
"rise and rise, the waves of great distress and affliction:
they will soon raise thy bark also and carry thee away."-
Thereupon was Zarathustra silent and wondered.- "Dost
thou still hear nothing?" continued the soothsayer: "doth
it not rush and roar out of the depth?"- Zarathustra
was silent once more and listened: then heard he a long, long
cry, which the abysses threw to one another and passed on;
for none of them wished to retain it: so evil did it sound.
"Thou ill announcer,"
said Zarathustra at last, "that is a cry of distress,
and the cry of a man; it may come perhaps out of a black sea.
But what doth human distress matter to me! My last sin which
hath been reserved for me,- knowest thou what it is called?"
the soothsayer from an overflowing heart, and raised both
his hands aloft- "O Zarathustra, I have come that I may
seduce thee to thy last sin!"And hardly had those words
been uttered when there sounded the cry once more, and longer
and more alarming than before- also much nearer. "Hearest
thou? Hearest thou, O Zarathustra?" called out the soothsayer,
"the cry concerneth thee, it calleth thee: Come, come,
come; it is time, it is the highest time!"Zarathustra
was silent thereupon, confused and staggered; at last he asked,
like one who hesitateth in himself: "And who is it that
there calleth me?"
"But thou knowest it,
certainly," answered the soothsayer warmly, "why
dost thou conceal thyself? It is the higher man that crieth
"The higher man?"
cried Zarathustra, horror-stricken: "what wanteth he?
What wanteth he? The higher man! What wanteth he here?"and
his skin covered with perspiration.
The soothsayer, however, did
not heed Zarathustra's alarm, but listened and listened in
the downward direction. When, however, it had been still there
for a long while, he looked behind, and saw Zarathustra standing
he began, with sorrowful voice, "thou dost not stand
there like one whose happiness maketh him giddy: thou wilt
have to dance lest thou tumble down!
But although thou shouldst
dance before me, and leap all thy side-leaps, no one may say
unto me: 'Behold, here danceth the last joyous man!'
In vain would any one come
to this height who sought him here: caves would he find, indeed,
and back-caves, hiding-places for hidden ones; but not lucky
mines, nor treasure-chambers, nor new gold-veins of happiness.
Happiness- how indeed could
one find happiness among such buried-alive and solitary ones!
Must I yet seek the last happiness on the Happy Isles, and
far away among forgotten seas?
But all is alike, nothing is
worth while, no seeking is of service, there are no longer
any Happy Isles!"-
Thus sighed the soothsayer;
with his last sigh, however, Zarathustra again became serene
and assured, like one who hath come out of a deep chasm into
the light. "Nay! Nay! Three times Nay!" exclaimed
he with a strong voice, and stroked his beard- "that
do I know better! There are still Happy Isles! Silence thereon,
thou sighing sorrow-sack!
Cease to splash thereon, thou
rain-cloud of the forenoon! Do I not already stand here wet
with thy misery, and drenched like a dog?
Now do I shake myself and run
away from thee, that I may again become dry: thereat mayest
thou not wonder! Do I seem to thee discourteous? Here however
is my court.
But as regards the higher man:
well! I shall seek him at once in those forests: from thence
came his cry. Perhaps he is there hard beset by an evil beast.
He is in my domain: therein
shall he receive no scath! And verily, there are many evil
beasts about me."With those words Zarathustra turned
around to depart. Then said the soothsayer: "O Zarathustra,
thou art a rogue!
I know it well: thou wouldst
fain be rid of me! Rather wouldst thou run into the forest
and lay snares for evil beasts!
But what good will it do thee?
In the evening wilt thou have me again: in thine own cave
will I sit, patient and heavy like a block and wait for thee!"
"So be it!" shouted
back Zarathustra, as he went away: "and what is mine
in my cave belongeth also unto thee, my guest!
Shouldst thou however find
honey therein, well! Just lick it up, thou growling bear,
and sweeten thy soul! For in the evening we want both to be
in good spirits;
-In good spirits and joyful,
because this day hath come to an end! And thou thyself shalt
dance to my lays, as my dancing-bear.
Thou dost not believe this?
Thou shakest thy head? Well! Cheer up, old bear! But I also-
am a soothsayer."
Thus spake Zarathustra.
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science