"Halt, dwarf!" said I. "Either I- or you! I, however, am the stronger of the two:- you knowest not my abysmal thought! It- could you not endure!"
Then happened that which made me lighter: for the dwarf sprang from my shoulder, the prying sprite! And it squatted on a stone in front of me. There was however a gateway just where we halted.
"Look at this gateway! Dwarf!" I continued, "it has two faces. Two roads come together here: these has no one yet gone to the end of.
This long lane backwards: it continues for an eternity. And that long lane forward- that is another eternity.
They are antithetical to one another, these roads; they directly abut on one another:- and it is here, at this gateway, that they come together. The name of the gateway is inscribed above: 'This Moment.'
But should one follow them further- and ever further and further on, think you, dwarf, that these roads would be eternally antithetical?"-
"Everything straight lies," murmured the dwarf, contemptuously. "All truth is crooked; time itself is a circle."
"You spirit of gravity!" said I wrathfully, "do not take it too lightly! Or I shall let you squat where you squat, Haltfoot,- and I carried you high!"
"Observe," continued I, "This Moment! From the gateway, This Moment, there runs a long eternal lane backwards: behind us lies an eternity.
Must not whatever can run its course of all things, have already run along that lane? Must not whatever can happen of all things have already happened, resulted, and gone by?
And if everything has already existed, what think you, dwarf, of This Moment? Must not this gateway also- have already existed?
And are not all things closely bound together in such wise that This Moment draws all coming things after it? Consequently- itself also?
For whatever can run its course of all things, also in this long lane outward- must it once more run!-
And this slow spider which creeps in the moonlight, and this moonlight itself, and you and I in this gateway whispering together, whispering of eternal things- must we not all have already existed?
-And must we not return and run in that other lane out before us, that long weird lane- must we not eternally return?"-
Thus did I speak, and always more softly: for I was afraid of my own thoughts, and arrear-thoughts. Then, suddenly did I hear a dog howl near me.
Had I ever heard a dog howl thus? My thoughts ran back. Yes! When I was a child, in my most distant childhood:
-Then did I hear a dog howl thus. And saw it also, with hair bristling, its head upwards, trembling in the still midnight, when even dogs believe in ghosts:
-So that it excited my commiseration. For just then went the full moon, silent as death, over the house; just then did it stand still, a glowing globe- at rest on the flat roof, as if on some one's property:-
Thereby had the dog been terrified: for dogs believe in thieves and ghosts. And when I again heard such howling, then did it excite my commiseration once more.
Where was now the dwarf? And the gateway? And the spider? And all the whispering? Had I dreamt? Had I awakened? 'Twixt rugged rocks did I suddenly stand alone, dreary in the dreariest moonlight.
But there lay a man! And there! The dog leaping, bristling, whining- now did it see me coming- then did it howl again, then did it cry:- had I ever heard a dog cry so for help?
And verily, what I saw, the like had I never seen. A young shepherd did I see, writhing, choking, quivering, with distorted countenance, and with a heavy black serpent hanging out of his mouth.
Had I ever seen so much loathing and pale horror on one countenance? He had perhaps gone to sleep? Then had the serpent crawled into his throat- there had it bitten itself fast.
My hand pulled at the serpent, and pulled:- in vain! I failed to pull the serpent out of his throat. Then there cried out of me: "Bite! Bite!
Its head off! Bite!"- so cried it out of me; my horror, my hatred, my loathing, my pity, all my good and my bad cried with one voice out of me.-
You daring ones around me! You venturers and adventurers, and whoever of you have embarked with cunning sails on unexplored seas! You enigma-enjoyers!
Solve to me the enigma that I then beheld, interpret to me the vision of the most lonesome one!
For it was a vision and a foresight:- what did I then behold in parable? And who is it that must come some day?
Who is the shepherd into whose throat the serpent thus crawled? Who is the man into whose throat all the heaviest and blackest will thus crawl?
-The shepherd however bit as my cry had admonished him; he bit with a strong bite! Far away did he spit the head of the serpent:- and sprang up.-
No longer shepherd, no longer man- a transfigured being, a light-surrounded being, that laughed! Never on earth laughed a man as he laughed!
O my brothers, I heard a laughter which was no human laughter,- and now gnaws a thirst at me, a longing that is never allayed.
My longing for that laughter gnaws at me: oh, how can I still endure to live! And how could I endure to die at present!-
Thus spoke Zarathustra.