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【P1C21】Free Death

Many die too late, and some die too early. Yet strange sounds the precept: “Die at the right time!

Die at the right time: thus teaches Zarathustra.

To be sure, how could he who never lives at the right time ever die at the right time? If only he had never been born!- Thus do I advise the superfluous.

But even the superfluous make a show of their death, and even the hollowest nut wants to be cracked.

All regard dying as a great matter: but as yet death is not a festival. People have not yet learned to inaugurate the finest festivals.

I teach you the death which consummates, and becomes a spur and promise to the living.

He who consummates his life, then dies triumphant, surrounded by those who hope and promise.

Thus should one learn to die; and there should be no festival at which one who dies in this way does not consecrate the oaths of the living!

Thus to die is best; the next best, however, is to die in battle, and squander a great soul.

But equally hateful to vanquished and victor, is the grinning death which steals nigh like a thief,- and yet comes as master.

My death I praise to you, the voluntary death, which comes to me because I want it.

And when shall I want it?- He that has a goal and an heir, wants death at the right time for the goal and the heir.

And from reverence for the goal and heir, he will hang no more withered wreaths in the sanctuary of life.

I will not imitate the rope-makers: they lengthen out their cord and always walk backward.

And many grow too old for their truths and triumphs; a toothless mouth no longer has the right to every truth.

And whoever wants fame must take leave of honor and practice the difficult art of- leaving at the right time.

One must stop being eaten when one tastes best: those who want to be long loved know this.

There are sour apples, no doubt, whose lot is to wait until the last day of autumn: and at once they become ripe, yellow, and shrivelled.

In some the heart ages first, and in others the spirit. And some are hoary in youth, but those who are young latest keep young longer.

To many men life is a failure; a poison-worm gnaws at their heart. Then at least let their dying be a success.

Many never become sweet; they rot even in the summer. Cowardice holds them fast to their branches.

Far too many live, and far too long do they hang on their branches. If only a storm would come and shake all that is rotten and worm-eaten from the tree!

If only there were preachers of quick death! They would be the right storms and shakers of the trees of life! But I hear only the slow death preached, and patience with all that is “earthly.”

Ah! you preach patience with what is earthly? It is the earthly that has too much patience with you, you blasphemers!

Too early died that Hebrew whom the preachers of slow death honor: and it is a calamity to many that he died too early.

As yet he knew only tears, and the melancholy of the Hebrews, and hatred of the good and just- the Hebrew Jesus: then he was seized with longing for death.

If only he had remained in the wilderness, far from the good the just! Perhaps then he would have learned to live and love the earth- and laughter also!

Believe me, my brothers! He died too early; he himself would have recanted his doctrine had he reached my age! He was noble enough to recant!

But he was still immature. The youth loves immaturely, and he also hates immaturely both man and earth. His soul and the wings of his spirit are still confined and awkward.

But in man there is more of the child than in the youth, and less melancholy: he better understands life and death.

Free for death, and free in death; a sacred Nosayer, when there is no longer time for Yes: thus he understands death and life.

That your dying be no reproach to man and the earth, my friends: that I ask of the honey of your soul.

In your dying, your spirit and your virtue shall still shine like an sunset around the earth: otherwise your dying has gone badly.

Thus I will die myself, that you, my friends, may love the earth more for my sake; and earth will I again become, to have rest in her that bore me.

Zarathustra had a goal; he threw his ball. Now you, my friends, are the heirs of my goal; to you I throw the golden ball.

I like best of all to see you, my friends, throw the golden ball! And so I tarry a little while on the earth- pardon me for it!

Thus spoke Zarathustra.