Anthem by Ayn Rand

scornful to the world, were looking at us as

if they would obey any word we might speak.

And we said:

“We have given you a name in our

thoughts, Liberty 5-3000.”

“What is our name?” they asked.

“The Golden One.”

“Nor do we call you Equality 7-2521

when we think of you.”

“What name have you given us?”

They looked straight into our eyes and

they held their head high and they answered:

“The Unconquered.”

For a long time we could not speak.

Then we said:

“Such thoughts as these are forbidden,

Golden One.”

“But you think such thoughts as these

and you wish us to think them.”

We looked into their eyes and we could not lie.

“Yes,” we whispered, and they smiled,

and then we said: “Our dearest one,

do not obey us.”

They stepped back, and their eyes were

wide and still.

“Speak these words again,” they whispered.

“Which words?” we asked. But they

did not answer, and we knew it.

“Our dearest one,” we whispered.

Never have men said this to women.

The head of the Golden One bowed slowly,

and they stood still before us, their arms

at their sides, the palms of their hands

turned to us, as if their body were delivered

in submission to our eyes. And we could

not speak.

Then they raised their head, and they

spoke simply and gently, as if they wished

us to forget some anxiety of their own.

“The day is hot,” they said, “and you have

worked for many hours and you must be weary.”

“No,” we answered.

“It is cooler in the fields,” they said,

“and there is water to drink. Are you thirsty?”

“Yes,” we answered, “but we cannot cross the hedge.”

“We shall bring the water to you,” they said.

Then they knelt by the moat, they gathered

water in their two hands, they rose and

they held the water out to our lips.

We do not know if we drank that water.

We only knew suddenly that their hands

were empty, but we were still holding our

lips to their hands, and that they knew it,

but did not move.

We raised our head and stepped back.

For we did not understand what had made

us do this, and we were afraid to understand it.

And the Golden One stepped back, and

stood looking upon their hands in wonder.

Then the Golden One moved away, even

though no others were coming, and they

moved, stepping back, as if they could not

turn from us, their arms bent before them,

as if they could not lower their hands.


We made it. We created it. We brought

it forth from the night of the ages.

We alone. Our hands. Our mind.

Ours alone and only.

We know not what we are saying. Our head

is reeling. We look upon the light which

we have made. We shall be forgiven for

anything we say tonight. . . .

Tonight, after more days and trials

than we can count, we finished building

a strange thing, from the remains of the

Unmentionable Times, a box of glass, devised

to give forth the power of the sky of greater

strength than we had ever achieved before.

And when we put our wires to this box,

when we closed the current–the wire glowed!

It came to life, it turned red, and a circle

of light lay on the stone before us.

We stood, and we held our head in our hands.

We could not conceive of that which

we had created. We had touched no

flint, made no fire. Yet here was light,

light that came from nowhere, light from

the heart of metal.

We blew out the candle. Darkness swallowed us.

There was nothing left around us,

nothing save night and a thin thread of

flame in it, as a crack in the wall of a prison.

We stretched our hands to the wire,

and we saw our fingers in the red glow.

We could not see our body nor feel it,

and in that moment nothing existed save our

two hands over a wire glowing in a black abyss.

Then we thought of the meaning of that

which lay before us. We can light our

tunnel, and the City, and all the Cities of

the world with nothing save metal and

wires. We can give our brothers a new

light, cleaner and brighter than any they

have ever known. The power of the sky

can be made to do men’s bidding. There

are no limits to its secrets and its might,

and it can be made to grant us anything if

we but choose to ask.

Then we knew what we must do. Our

discovery is too great for us to waste our

time in sweeping the streets. We must not

keep our secret to ourselves, nor buried

under the ground. We must bring it into

the sight of all men. We need all our time,

we need the work rooms of the Home of

the Scholars, we want the help of our

brother Scholars and their wisdom joined

to ours. There is so much work ahead for

all of us, for all the Scholars of the world.

In a month, the World Council of Scholars

is to meet in our City. It is a great Council,

to which the wisest of all lands are

elected, and it meets once a year in the

different Cities of the earth. We shall go to

this Council and we shall lay before them,

as our gift, this glass box with the power of

the sky. We shall confess everything to them.

They will see, understand and forgive.

For our gift is greater than our transgression.

They will explain it to the Council of Vocations,

and we shall be assigned to the Home of the Scholars.

This has never been done before, but neither

has a gift such as ours ever been offered to men.

We must wait. We must guard our tunnel as

we had never guarded it before. For should

any men save the Scholars learn of

our secret, they would not understand it,

nor would they believe us. They would see

nothing, save our crime of working alone,

and they would destroy us and our light.

We care not about our body, but our light is . . .

Yes, we do care. For the first time do we

care about our body. For this wire is as a

part of our body, as a vein torn from us,

glowing with our blood. Are we proud of

this thread of metal, or of our hands

which made it, or is there a line to

divide these two?

We stretch out our arms. For the first

time do we know how strong our arms are.

And a strange thought comes to us:

we wonder, for the first time in our life,

what we look like. Men never see their

own faces and never ask their brothers

about it, for it is evil to have concern for

their own faces or bodies. But tonight,

for a reason we cannot fathom, we wish

it were possible to us to know the

likeness of our own person.


We have not written for thirty days.

For thirty days we have not been here, in

our tunnel. We had been caught.

It happened on that night when we wrote

last. We forgot, that night, to watch the

sand in the glass which tells us when three

hours have passed and it is time to return

to the City Theatre. When we remembered

it, the sand had run out.

We hastened to the Theatre. But the big

tent stood grey and silent against the sky.

The streets of the City lay before us, dark

and empty. If we went back to hide in our

tunnel, we would be found and our light

found with us. So we walked to the Home

of the Street Sweepers.

When the Council of the Home questioned us,

we looked upon the faces of the Council,

but there was no curiosity in those faces,

and no anger, and no mercy. So when

the oldest of them asked us: “Where have

you been?” we thought of our glass box

and of our light, and we forgot all else.

And we answered:

“We will not tell you.”

The oldest did not question us further.

They turned to the two youngest, and said,

and their voice was bored:

“Take our brother Equality 7-2521 to

the Palace of Corrective Detention.

Lash them until they tell.”

So we were taken to the Stone Room

under the Palace of Corrective Detention.

This room has no windows and it is empty

save for an iron post. Two men stood by

the post, naked but for leather aprons and

leather hoods over their faces. Those who

had brought us departed, leaving us to the

two Judges who stood in a corner of the

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Categories: Rand, Ayn