Anthem by Ayn Rand

fires raged over the land. And in

these fires the Evil Ones and all the

things made by the Evil Ones were burned.

And the fire which is called the Dawn of

the Great Rebirth, was the Script Fire

where all the scripts of the Evil Ones

were burned, and with them all the words

of the Evil Ones. Great mountains of flame

stood in the squares of the Cities for

three months. Then came the Great Rebirth.

The words of the Evil Ones . . .

The words of the Unmentionable Times . . .

What are the words which we have lost?

May the Council have mercy upon us!

We had no wish to write such a question,

and we knew not what we were doing till

we had written it. We shall not ask

this question and we shall not think it.

We shall not call death upon our head.

And yet . . . And yet . . .

There is some word, one single word

which is not in the language of men,

but which had been. And this is the

Unspeakable Word, which no men may speak

nor hear. But sometimes, and it is rare,

sometimes, somewhere, one among men find

that word. They find it upon scraps of old

manuscripts or cut into the fragments of

ancient stones. But when they speak it

they are put to death. There is no crime

punished by death in this world, save this

one crime of speaking the Unspeakable Word.

We have seen one of such men burned

alive in the square of the City. And it was

a sight which has stayed with us through

the years, and it haunts us, and follows us,

and it gives us no rest. We were a child

then, ten years old. And we stood in the

great square with all the children and all the

men of the City, sent to behold the burning.

They brought the Transgressor out into

the square and they led them to the pyre.

They had torn out the tongue of the

Transgressor, so that they could speak no

longer. The Transgressor were young and tall.

They had hair of gold and eyes blue as morning.

They walked to the pyre, and their step did

not falter. And of all the faces

on that square, of all the faces which

shrieked and screamed and spat curses upon

them, theirs was the calmest and the happiest face.

As the chains were wound over their

body at the stake, and a flame set to the

pyre, the Transgressor looked upon the

City. There was a thin thread of blood

running from the corner of their mouth,

but their lips were smiling. And a monstrous

thought came to us then, which has

never left us. We had heard of Saints.

There are the Saints of Labor, and the

Saints of the Councils, and the Saints of the

Great Rebirth. But we had never seen a

Saint nor what the likeness of a Saint

should be. And we thought then, standing

in the square, that the likeness of a Saint

was the face we saw before us in the flames,

the face of the Transgressor of the

Unspeakable Word.

As the flames rose, a thing happened

which no eyes saw but ours, else we would

not be living today. Perhaps it had only

seemed to us. But it seemed to us that the

eyes of the Transgressor had chosen us

from the crowd and were looking straight

upon us. There was no pain in their eyes

and no knowledge of the agony of their

body. There was only joy in them, and

pride, a pride holier than is fit for human

pride to be. And it seemed as if these eyes

were trying to tell us something through

the flames, to send into our eyes some word

without sound. And it seemed as if these

eyes were begging us to gather that word

and not to let it go from us and from the

earth. But the flames rose and we could not

guess the word. . . .

What–even if we have to burn for it

like the Saint of the Pyre–what is the

Unspeakable Word?


We, Equality 7-2521, have discovered a

new power of nature. And we have discovered

it alone, and we alone are to know it.

It is said. Now let us be lashed for it,

if we must. The Council of Scholars has

said that we all know the things which exist

and therefore the things which are not

known by all do not exist. But we think

that the Council of Scholars is blind.

The secrets of this earth are not for all men

to see, but only for those who will seek them.

We know, for we have found a secret unknown

to all our brothers.

We know not what this power is nor

whence it comes. But we know its nature,

we have watched it and worked with it.

We saw it first two years ago. One night,

we were cutting open the body of a dead

frog when we saw its leg jerking. It was

dead, yet it moved. Some power unknown

to men was making it move. We could not

understand it. Then, after many tests,

we found the answer. The frog had been

hanging on a wire of copper; and it had

been the metal of our knife which had sent

the strange power to the copper through the

brine of the frog’s body. We put a piece of

copper and a piece of zinc into a jar of

brine, we touched a wire to them, and

there, under our fingers, was a miracle

which had never occurred before, a new

miracle and a new power.

This discovery haunted us. We followed

it in preference to all our studies.

We worked with it, we tested it in more ways

than we can describe, and each step was as

another miracle unveiling before us.

We came to know that we had found the

greatest power on earth. For it defies all

the laws known to men. It makes the needle

move and turn on the compass which we

stole from the Home of the Scholars;

but we had been taught, when still a child,

that the loadstone points to the north and that

this is a law which nothing can change;

yet our new power defies all laws.

We found that it causes lightning, and never

have men known what causes lightning.

In thunderstorms, we raised a tall rod of

iron by the side of our hole, and we

watched it from below. We have seen the

lightning strike it again and again.

And now we know that metal draws the power

of the sky, and that metal can be made to

give it forth.

We have built strange things with this

discovery of ours. We used for it the

copper wires which we found here under the

ground. We have walked the length of our

tunnel, with a candle lighting the way.

We could go no farther than half a mile, for

earth and rock had fallen at both ends.

But we gathered all the things we found

and we brought them to our work place.

We found strange boxes with bars of metal

inside, with many cords and strands and

coils of metal. We found wires that led

to strange little globes of glass on the walls;

they contained threads of metal thinner

than a spider’s web.

These things help us in our work. We do

not understand them, but we think that

the men of the Unmentionable Times had

known our power of the sky, and these

things had some relation to it. We do not

know, but we shall learn. We cannot stop

now, even though it frightens us that we

are alone in our knowledge.

No single one can possess greater

wisdom than the many Scholars who are

elected by all men for their wisdom.

Yet we can. We do. We have fought against

saying it, but now it is said. We do not care.

We forget all men, all laws and all things

save our metals and our wires. So much

is still to be learned! So long a road

lies before us, and what care we if we

must travel it alone!


Many days passed before we could speak

to the Golden One again. But then came

the day when the sky turned white, as if

the sun had burst and spread its flame in

the air, and the fields lay still without

breath, and the dust of the road was white

in the glow. So the women of the field

were weary, and they tarried over their

work, and they were far from the road

when we came. But the Golden One stood

alone at the hedge, waiting. We stopped

and we saw that their eyes, so hard and

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Categories: Rand, Ayn