Anthem by Ayn Rand

to all our brothers, and they do not concern

our brothers in any way. Thus do we wonder.

There is some error, one frightful error,

in the thinking of men. What is that error?

We do not know, but the knowledge struggles

within us, struggles to be born. Today,

the Golden One stopped suddenly and said:

“We love you.”

But they frowned and shook their

head and looked at us helplessly.

“No,” they whispered, “that is not what

we wished to say.”

They were silent, then they spoke slowly,

and their words were halting, like the words

of a child learning to speak for the first time:

“We are one . . . alone . . . and only . . .

and we love you who are one . . . alone . . . and only.”

We looked into each other’s eyes and we knew

that the breath of a miracle had touched us,

and fled, and left us groping vainly.

And we felt torn, torn for some word we could not find.


We are sitting at a table and we are

writing this upon paper made thousands

of years ago. The light is dim, and we

cannot see the Golden One, only one lock

of gold on the pillow of an ancient bed.

This is our home.

We came upon it today, at sunrise.

For many days we had been crossing a chain

of mountains. The forest rose among cliffs,

and whenever we walked out upon a

barren stretch of rock we saw great peaks

before us in the west, and to the north of us,

and to the south, as far as our eyes could see.

The peaks were red and brown, with the green streaks

of forests as veins upon them, with blue mists as veils

over their heads. We had never heard of these mountains,

nor seen them marked on any map.

The Uncharted Forest has protected them

from the Cities and from the men of the Cities.

We climbed paths where the wild goat

dared not follow. Stones rolled from under

our feet, and we heard them striking the

rocks below, farther and farther down,

and the mountains rang with each stroke,

and long after the strokes had died.

But we went on, for we knew that no men

would ever follow our track nor reach us here.

Then today, at sunrise, we saw a white

flame among the trees, high on a sheer

peak before us. We thought that it was a

fire and stopped. But the flame was

unmoving, yet blinding as liquid metal.

So we climbed toward it through the rocks.

And there, before us, on a broad summit,

with the mountains rising behind it,

stood a house such as we had never seen,

and the white fire came from the sun on

the glass of its windows.

The house had two stories and a strange

roof flat as a floor. There was more window

than wall upon its walls, and the windows

went on straight around the corners, though

how this kept the house standing we could

not guess. The walls were hard and smooth,

of that stone unlike stone which we had

seen in our tunnel.

We both knew it without words: this house

was left from the Unmentionable Times.

The trees had protected it from time

and weather, and from men who have

less pity than time and weather.

We turned to the Golden One and we asked:

“Are you afraid?”

But they shook their head. So we walked

to the door, and we threw it open,

and we stepped together into the house

of the Unmentionable Times.

We shall need the days and the years ahead,

to look, to learn, and to understand

the things of this house. Today, we could

only look and try to believe the sight of

our eyes. We pulled the heavy curtains

from the windows and we saw that the rooms

were small, and we thought that not more

than twelve men could have lived here.

We thought it strange that men had been

permitted to build a house for only twelve.

Never had we seen rooms so full of light.

The sunrays danced upon colors, colors,

more colors than we thought possible,

we who had seen no houses save the

white ones, the brown ones and the grey.

There were great pieces of glass on the

walls, but it was not glass, for when we

looked upon it we saw our own bodies and

all the things behind us, as on the face

of a lake. There were strange things which we

had never seen and the use of which we do

not know. And there were globes of glass

everywhere, in each room, the globes with

the metal cobwebs inside, such as we had

seen in our tunnel.

We found the sleeping hall and we stood

in awe upon its threshold. For it was a

small room and there were only two beds

in it. We found no other beds in the house,

and then we knew that only two had lived

here, and this passes understanding.

What kind of world did they have,

the men of the Unmentionable Times?

We found garments, and the Golden One

gasped at the sight of them. For they

were not white tunics, nor white togas;

they were of all colors, no two of them

alike. Some crumbled to dust as we touched

them. But others were of heavier cloth,

and they felt soft and new in our fingers.

We found a room with walls made of shelves,

which held rows of manuscripts, from the floor

to the ceiling. Never had we seen such a

number of them, nor of such strange shape.

They were not soft and rolled, they had hard

shells of cloth and leather; and the letters

on their pages were so small and so even that

we wondered at the men who had such handwriting.

We glanced through the pages, and we saw

that they were written in our language,

but we found many words which we could

not understand. Tomorrow, we shall begin

to read these scripts.

When we had seen all the rooms of the

house, we looked at the Golden One and

we both knew the thought in our minds.

“We shall never leave this house,” we said,

“nor let it be taken from us. This is

our home and the end of our journey.

This is your house, Golden One, and ours,

and it belongs to no other men whatever as

far as the earth may stretch. We shall not

share it with others, as we share not our joy

with them, nor our love, nor our hunger.

So be it to the end of our days.”

“Your will be done,” they said.

Then we went out to gather wood for

the great hearth of our home. We brought

water from the stream which runs among

the trees under our windows. We killed

a mountain goat, and we brought its flesh

to be cooked in a strange copper pot we

found in a place of wonders, which must

have been the cooking room of the house.

We did this work alone, for no words

of ours could take the Golden One away

from the big glass which is not glass.

They stood before it and they looked

and looked upon their own body.

When the sun sank beyond the mountains,

the Golden One fell asleep on the floor,

amidst jewels, and bottles of crystal,

and flowers of silk. We lifted the Golden

One in our arms and we carried them to a bed,

their head falling softly upon our shoulder.

Then we lit a candle, and we brought paper

from the room of the manuscripts,

and we sat by the window, for we

knew that we could not sleep tonight.

And now we look upon the earth and sky.

This spread of naked rock and peaks

and moonlight is like a world ready to be

born, a world that waits. It seems to us it

asks a sign from us, a spark, a first commandment.

We cannot know what word we are to give,

nor what great deed this earth expects to witness.

We know it waits. It seems to say it has great gifts

to lay before us, but it wishes a greater gift for us.

We are to speak. We are to give its goal,

its highest meaning to all this glowing

space of rock and sky.

We look ahead, we beg our heart for guidance

in answering this call no voice has spoken,

yet we have heard. We look upon our hands.

We see the dust of centuries, the dust which

hid the great secrets and perhaps great evils.

And yet it stirs no fear within our heart,

but only silent reverence and pity.

May knowledge come to us! What is the

secret our heart has understood and yet will

not reveal to us, although it seems to beat

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Categories: Rand, Ayn