Anthem by Ayn Rand

spoke to the Golden One.

The other women were far off in the

field, when we stopped at the hedge by the

side of the road. The Golden One were

kneeling alone at the moat which runs

through the field. And the drops of water

falling from their hands, as they raised the

water to their lips, were like sparks of fire

in the sun. Then the Golden One saw us,

and they did not move, kneeling there,

looking at us, and circles of light played

upon their white tunic, from the sun on the

water of the moat, and one sparkling drop

fell from a finger of their hand held as

frozen in the air.

Then the Golden One rose and walked

to the hedge, as if they had heard a

command in our eyes. The two other Street

Sweepers of our brigade were a hundred

paces away down the road. And we

thought that International 4-8818 would

not betray us, and Union 5-3992 would

not understand. So we looked straight upon

the Golden One, and we saw the shadows

of their lashes on their white cheeks and

the sparks of sun on their lips. And we said:

“You are beautiful, Liberty 5-3000.”

Their face did not move and they did not

avert their eyes. Only their eyes grew wider,

and there was triumph in their eyes,

and it was not triumph over us,

but over things we could not guess.

Then they asked:

“What is your name?”

“Equality 7-2521,” we answered.

“You are not one of our brothers, Equality

7-2521, for we do not wish you to be.”

We cannot say what they meant, for there

are no words for their meaning, but we know it

without words and we knew it then.

“No,” we answered, “nor are you one of our sisters.”

“If you see us among scores of women,

will you look upon us?”

“We shall look upon you, Liberty 5-3000,

if we see you among all the women of the earth.”

Then they asked:

“Are Street Sweepers sent to different

parts of the City or do they always work

in the same places?”

“They always work in the same places,”

we answered, “and no one will take this

road away from us.”

“Your eyes,” they said, “are not like the

eyes of any among men.”

And suddenly, without cause for the

thought which came to us, we felt cold,

cold to our stomach.

“How old are you?” we asked.

They understood our thought, for they

lowered their eyes for the first time.

“Seventeen,” they whispered.

And we sighed, as if a burden had been

taken from us, for we had been thinking

without reason of the Palace of Mating.

And we thought that we would not let the

Golden One be sent to the Palace. How to

prevent it, how to bar the will of the

Councils, we knew not, but we knew suddenly

that we would. Only we do not know why

such thought came to us, for these ugly

matters bear no relation to us and the

Golden One. What relation can they bear?

Still, without reason, as we stood there

by the hedge, we felt our lips drawn tight

with hatred, a sudden hatred for all our

brother men. And the Golden One saw it

and smiled slowly, and there was in their

smile the first sadness we had seen in them.

We think that in the wisdom of women

the Golden One had understood more than

we can understand.

Then three of the sisters in the field appeared,

coming toward the road, so the Golden One

walked away from us. They took the bag of seeds,

and they threw the seeds into the furrows of earth

as they walked away. But the seeds flew wildly,

for the hand of the Golden One was trembling.

Yet as we walked back to the Home of the

Street Sweepers, we felt that we wanted

to sing, without reason. So we were

reprimanded tonight, in the dining hall,

for without knowing it we had begun to

sing aloud some tune we had never heard.

But it is not proper to sing without reason,

save at the Social Meetings.

“We are singing because we are happy,”

we answered the one of the Home Council

who reprimanded us.

“Indeed you are happy,” they answered.

“How else can men be when they live for

their brothers?”

And now, sitting here in our tunnel, we

wonder about these words. It is forbidden,

not to be happy. For, as it has been

explained to us, men are free and the earth

belongs to them; and all things on earth belong

to all men; and the will of all men together is

good for all; and so all men must be happy.

Yet as we stand at night in the great hall,

removing our garments for sleep, we look

upon our brothers and we wonder. The heads

of our brothers are bowed. The eyes of our

brothers are dull, and never do they look

one another in the eyes. The shoulders

of our brothers are hunched, and their

muscles are drawn, as if their bodies were

shrinking and wished to shrink out of sight.

And a word steals into our mind, as we look

upon our brothers, and that word is fear.

There is fear hanging in the air of the

sleeping halls, and in the air of the streets.

Fear walks through the City, fear without name,

without shape. All men feel it and none dare to speak.

We feel it also, when we are in the Home of the

Street Sweepers. But here, in our tunnel,

we feel it no longer. The air is pure

under the ground. There is no odor of men.

And these three hours give us strength

for our hours above the ground.

Our body is betraying us, for the Council

of the Home looks with suspicion upon us.

It is not good to feel too much joy nor to be glad

that our body lives. For we matter not and

it must not matter to us whether we live or die,

which is to be as our brothers will it.

But we, Equality 7-2521, are glad to be living.

If this is a vice, then we wish no virtue.

Yet our brothers are not like us. All is

not well with our brothers. There are

Fraternity 2-5503, a quiet boy with wise,

kind eyes, who cry suddenly, without reason,

in the midst of day or night, and their

body shakes with sobs they cannot explain.

There are Solidarity 9-6347, who are a

bright youth, without fear in the day; but

they scream in their sleep, and they scream:

“Help us! Help us! Help us!” into the

night, in a voice which chills our bones, but

the Doctors cannot cure Solidarity 9-6347.

And as we all undress at night, in the

dim light of the candles, our brothers are

silent, for they dare not speak the thoughts

of their minds. For all must agree with all,

and they cannot know if their thoughts

are the thoughts of all, and so they fear to

speak. And they are glad when the candles

are blown for the night. But we, Equality

7-2521, look through the window upon

the sky, and there is peace in the sky,

and cleanliness, and dignity. And beyond

the City there lies the plain, and

beyond the plain, black upon the black sky,

there lies the Uncharted Forest.

We do not wish to look upon the

Uncharted Forest. We do not wish

to think of it. But ever do our eyes

return to that black patch upon the sky.

Men never enter the Uncharted Forest,

for there is no power to explore it

and no path to lead among its ancient

trees which stand as guards of fearful

secrets. It is whispered that once or

twice in a hundred years, one among

the men of the City escape alone and run to

the Uncharted Forest, without call or reason.

These men do not return. They perish from

hunger and from the claws of the wild

beasts which roam the Forest. But our

Councils say that this is only a legend.

We have heard that there are many Uncharted

Forests over the land, among the Cities.

And it is whispered that they have grown

over the ruins of many cities of the

Unmentionable Times. The trees have

swallowed the ruins, and the bones under

the ruins, and all the things which perished.

And as we look upon the Uncharted Forest

far in the night, we think of the

secrets of the Unmentionable Times.

And we wonder how it came to pass that

these secrets were lost to the world.

We have heard the legends of the great fighting,

in which many men fought on one side and only

a few on the other. These few were the Evil

Ones and they were conquered. Then great

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Categories: Rand, Ayn