I give no alms. I am not poor enough for that.
Zarathustra went down the mountain alone, no one meeting him. When he entered the forest, however, there suddenly stood before him an old man, who had left his holy cot to seek roots. And thus spake the old man to Zarathustra:
“No stranger to me is this wanderer: many years ago passed he by. Zarathustra he was called; but he hath altered.
Then thou carriedst thine ashes into the mountains: wilt thou now carry thy fire into the valleys? Fearest thou not the incendiary’s doom?
Yea, I recognise Zarathustra. Pure is his eye, and no loathing lurketh about his mouth. Goeth he not along like a dancer?
Altered is Zarathustra; a child hath Zarathustra become; an awakened one is Zarathustra: what wilt thou do in the land of the sleepers?
As in the sea hast thou lived in solitude, and it hath borne thee up. Alas, wilt thou now go ashore? Alas, wilt thou again drag thy body thyself?”
Zarathustra answered: “I love mankind.”
“Why,” said the saint, “did I go into the forest and the desert? Was it not because I loved men far too well?
Now I love God: men, I do not love. Man is a thing too imperfect for me. Love to man would be fatal to me.”
Zarathustra answered: “What spake I of love! I am bringing gifts unto men.”
“Give them nothing,” said the saint. “Take rather part of their load, and carry it along with them–that will be most agreeable unto them: if only it be agreeable unto thee!
If, however, thou wilt give unto them, give them no more than an alms, and let them also beg for it!”
“No,” replied Zarathustra, “I give no alms. I am not poor enough for that.”
The saint laughed at Zarathustra, and spake thus: “Then see to it that they accept thy treasures! They are distrustful of anchorites, and do not believe that we come with gifts.
The fall of our footsteps ringeth too hollow through their streets. And just as at night, when they are in bed and hear a man abroad long before sunrise, so they ask themselves concerning us: Where goeth the thief?
Go not to men, but stay in the forest! Go rather to the animals! Why not be like me–a bear amongst bears, a bird amongst birds?”
“And what doeth the saint in the forest?” asked Zarathustra.
The saint answered: “I make hymns and sing them; and in making hymns I laugh and weep and mumble: thus do I praise God.
With singing, weeping, laughing, and mumbling do I praise the God who is my God. But what dost thou bring us as a gift?”
When Zarathustra had heard these words, he bowed to the saint and said: “What should I have to give thee! Let me rather hurry hence lest I take aught away from thee!”–And thus they parted from one another, the old man and Zarathustra, laughing like schoolboys.
When Zarathustra was alone, however, he said to his heart: “Could it be possible! This old saint in the forest hath not yet heard of it, that GOD IS DEAD!”