Anthem by Ayn Rand

as if it were endeavoring to tell it?


I am. I think. I will.

My hands . . . My spirit . . . My sky . . .

My forest . . . This earth of mine. . . .

What must I say besides? These are the

words. This is the answer.

I stand here on the summit of the mountain.

I lift my head and I spread my arms.

This, my body and spirit, this is the end

of the quest. I wished to know the meaning

of things. I am the meaning. I wished

to find a warrant for being. I need no

warrant for being, and no word of sanction

upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.

It is my eyes which see, and the sight of

my eyes grants beauty to the earth. It is

my ears which hear, and the hearing of my

ears gives its song to the world. It is my

mind which thinks, and the judgement of

my mind is the only searchlight that can

find the truth. It is my will which chooses,

and the choice of my will is the only edict

I must respect.

Many words have been granted me,

and some are wise, and some are false,

but only three are holy: “I will it!”

Whatever road I take, the guiding star

is within me; the guiding star and the

loadstone which point the way. They point

in but one direction. They point to me.

I know not if this earth on which I stand

is the core of the universe or if it is but

a speck of dust lost in eternity. I know not

and I care not. For I know what happiness

is possible to me on earth. And my happiness

needs no higher aim to vindicate it.

My happiness is not the means to any end.

It is the end. It is its own goal.

It is its own purpose.

Neither am I the means to any end others

may wish to accomplish. I am not a tool

for their use. I am not a servant of their

needs. I am not a bandage for their wounds.

I am not a sacrifice on their altars.

I am a man. This miracle of me is mine

to own and keep, and mine to guard, and

mine to use, and mine to kneel before!

I do not surrender my treasures, nor do

I share them. The fortune of my spirit is

not to be blown into coins of brass and

flung to the winds as alms for the poor

of the spirit. I guard my treasures:

my thought, my will, my freedom.

And the greatest of these is freedom.

I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do

I gather debts from them. I ask none to

live for me, nor do I live for any others.

I covet no man’s soul, nor is my soul theirs

to covet.

I am neither foe nor friend to my brothers,

but such as each of them shall deserve

of me. And to earn my love, my brothers

must do more than to have been born.

I do not grant my love without reason, nor

to any chance passer-by who may wish to

claim it. I honor men with my love.

But honor is a thing to be earned.

I shall choose friends among men, but neither

slaves nor masters. And I shall choose

only such as please me, and them

I shall love and respect, but neither

command nor obey. And we shall join our

hands when we wish, or walk alone when

we so desire. For in the temple of his spirit,

each man is alone. Let each man keep his

temple untouched and undefiled. Then let

him join hands with others if he wishes,

but only beyond his holy threshold.

For the word “We” must never be

spoken, save by one’s choice and as a

second thought. This word must never be

placed first within man’s soul, else it

becomes a monster, the root of all the evils

on earth, the root of man’s torture by men,

and of an unspeakable lie.

The word “We” is as lime poured over men,

which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes

all beneath it, and that which is white

and that which is black are lost equally

in the grey of it. It is the word by

which the depraved steal the virtue of

the good, by which the weak steal the

might of the strong, by which the fools

steal the wisdom of the sages.

What is my joy if all hands, even the

unclean, can reach into it? What is my

wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to

me? What is my freedom, if all creatures,

even the botched and the impotent, are my

masters? What is my life, if I am but to

bow, to agree and to obey?

But I am done with this creed of corruption.

I am done with the monster of “We,”

the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery,

falsehood and shame.

And now I see the face of god, and I

raise this god over the earth, this god whom

men have sought since men came into being,

this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride.

This god, this one word:



It was when I read the first of the books

I found in my house that I saw the word

“I.” And when I understood this word,

the book fell from my hands, and I wept,

I who had never known tears. I wept in

deliverance and in pity for all mankind.

I understood the blessed thing which I

had called my curse. I understood why the

best in me had been my sins and my transgressions;

and why I had never felt guilt in my sins.

I understood that centuries of chains

and lashes will not kill the spirit of

man nor the sense of truth within him.

I read many books for many days. Then I called

the Golden One, and I told her

what I had read and what I had learned.

She looked at me and the first words she

spoke were:

“I love you.”

Then I said:

“My dearest one, it is not proper for

men to be without names. There was a

time when each man had a name of his

own to distinguish him from all other men.

So let us choose our names. I have read of

a man who lived many thousands of years

ago, and of all the names in these books,

his is the one I wish to bear. He took the

light of the gods and he brought it to men,

and he taught men to be gods. And he suffered

for his deed as all bearers of light

must suffer. His name was Prometheus.”

“It shall be your name,” said the Golden One.

“And I have read of a goddess,” I said,

“who was the mother of the earth and of

all the gods. Her name was Gaea. Let this

be your name, my Golden One, for you

are to be the mother of a new kind of gods.”

“It shall be my name,” said the Golden One.

Now I look ahead. My future is clear

before me. The Saint of the pyre had seen

the future when he chose me as his heir,

as the heir of all the saints and all the

martyrs who came before him and who

died for the same cause, for the same word,

no matter what name they gave to their

cause and their truth.

I shall live here, in my own house.

I shall take my food from the earth

by the toil of my own hands. I shall

learn many secrets from my books.

Through the years ahead, I shall rebuild

the achievements of the past,

and open the way to carry them further,

the achievements which are open to me,

but closed forever to my brothers,

for their minds are shackled to the

weakest and dullest ones among them.

I have learned that my power of the sky

was known to men long ago; they called

it Electricity. It was the power that

moved their greatest inventions. It lit

this house with light which came from

those globes of glass on the walls.

I have found the engine which produced this light.

I shall learn how to repair it and how to

make it work again. I shall learn how to

use the wires which carry this power.

Then I shall build a barrier of wires around

my home, and across the paths which lead

to my home; a barrier light as a cobweb, more

impassable than a wall of granite; a barrier

my brothers will never be able to cross.

For they have nothing to fight me with,

save the brute force of their numbers.

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Categories: Rand, Ayn