The Tree on the Hill

lightning_striking_tree

“This tree standeth lonely here on the hills; it hath grown up high above man and beast.

And if it wanted to speak, it would have none who could understand it: so high hath it grown.

Now it waiteth and waiteth,–for what doth it wait? It dwelleth too close to the seat of the clouds; it waiteth perhaps for the first lightning?”

Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Friedrich Nietzsche

First Part, VIII

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VIII. THE TREE ON THE HILL.

Zarathustra’s eye had perceived that a certain youth avoided him. And as

he walked alone one evening over the hills surrounding the town called

“The Pied Cow,” behold, there found he the youth sitting leaning against

a tree, and gazing with wearied look into the valley. Zarathustra

thereupon laid hold of the tree beside which the youth sat, and spake

thus:

“If I wished to shake this tree with my hands, I should not be able to

do so.

But the wind, which we see not, troubleth and bendeth it as it listeth.

We are sorest bent and troubled by invisible hands.”

Thereupon the youth arose disconcerted, and said: “I hear Zarathustra,

and just now was I thinking of him!” Zarathustra answered:

“Why art thou frightened on that account?–But it is the same with man

as with the tree.

The more he seeketh to rise into the height and light, the more

vigorously do his roots struggle earthward, downward, into the dark and

deep–into the evil.”

“Yea, into the evil!” cried the youth. “How is it possible that thou

hast discovered my soul?”

Zarathustra smiled, and said: “Many a soul one will never discover,

unless one first invent it.”

“Yea, into the evil!” cried the youth once more.

“Thou saidst the truth, Zarathustra. I trust myself no longer since I

sought to rise into the height, and nobody trusteth me any longer; how

doth that happen?

I change too quickly: my to-day refuteth my yesterday. I often overleap

the steps when I clamber; for so doing, none of the steps pardons me.

When aloft, I find myself always alone. No one speaketh unto me; the

frost of solitude maketh me tremble. What do I seek on the height?

My contempt and my longing increase together; the higher I clamber, the

more do I despise him who clambereth. What doth he seek on the height?

How ashamed I am of my clambering and stumbling! How I mock at my

violent panting! How I hate him who flieth! How tired I am on the

height!”

Here the youth was silent. And Zarathustra contemplated the tree beside

which they stood, and spake thus:

“This tree standeth lonely here on the hills; it hath grown up high

above man and beast.

And if it wanted to speak, it would have none who could understand it:

so high hath it grown.

Now it waiteth and waiteth,–for what doth it wait? It dwelleth too

close to the seat of the clouds; it waiteth perhaps for the first

lightning?”

When Zarathustra had said this, the youth called out with violent

gestures: “Yea, Zarathustra, thou speakest the truth. My destruction

I longed for, when I desired to be on the height, and thou art the

lightning for which I waited! Lo! what have I been since thou hast

appeared amongst us? It is mine envy of thee that hath destroyed

me!”–Thus spake the youth, and wept bitterly. Zarathustra, however, put

his arm about him, and led the youth away with him.

And when they had walked a while together, Zarathustra began to speak

thus:

It rendeth my heart. Better than thy words express it, thine eyes tell

me all thy danger.

As yet thou art not free; thou still SEEKEST freedom. Too unslept hath

thy seeking made thee, and too wakeful.

On the open height wouldst thou be; for the stars thirsteth thy soul.

But thy bad impulses also thirst for freedom.

Thy wild dogs want liberty; they bark for joy in their cellar when thy

spirit endeavoureth to open all prison doors.

Still art thou a prisoner–it seemeth to me–who deviseth liberty

for himself: ah! sharp becometh the soul of such prisoners, but also

deceitful and wicked.

To purify himself, is still necessary for the freedman of the spirit.

Much of the prison and the mould still remaineth in him: pure hath his

eye still to become.

Yea, I know thy danger. But by my love and hope I conjure thee: cast not

thy love and hope away!

Noble thou feelest thyself still, and noble others also feel thee still,

though they bear thee a grudge and cast evil looks. Know this, that to

everybody a noble one standeth in the way.

Also to the good, a noble one standeth in the way: and even when they

call him a good man, they want thereby to put him aside.

The new, would the noble man create, and a new virtue. The old, wanteth

the good man, and that the old should be conserved.

But it is not the danger of the noble man to turn a good man, but lest

he should become a blusterer, a scoffer, or a destroyer.

Ah! I have known noble ones who lost their highest hope. And then they

disparaged all high hopes.

Then lived they shamelessly in temporary pleasures, and beyond the day

had hardly an aim.

“Spirit is also voluptuousness,”–said they. Then broke the wings of

their spirit; and now it creepeth about, and defileth where it gnaweth.

Once they thought of becoming heroes; but sensualists are they now. A

trouble and a terror is the hero to them.

But by my love and hope I conjure thee: cast not away the hero in thy

soul! Maintain holy thy highest hope!–

Thus spake Zarathustra.

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