And verily, what I saw, the like had I never seen. A young shepherd did I see, writhing, choking, quivering, with distorted countenance, and with a heavy black serpent hanging out of his mouth. Had I ever seen so much loathing and pale horror on one countenance? He had perhaps gone to sleep? Then had the serpent crawled into his throat- there had it bitten itself fast.
My hand pulled at the serpent, and pulled:- in vain! I failed to pull the serpent out of his throat. Then there cried out of me: "Bite! Bite! Its head off! Bite!"- so cried it out of me; my horror, my hatred, my loathing, my pity, all my good and my bad cried with one voice out of me.-
Ye daring ones around me! Ye venturers and adventurers, and whoever of you have embarked with cunning sails on unexplored seas! Ye enigma-enjoyers! Solve unto me the enigma that I then beheld, interpret unto me the vision of the lonesomest one!
For it was a vision and a foresight:- what did I then behold in parable? And who is it that must come some day?
Who is the shepherd into whose throat the serpent thus crawled?
Who is the man into whose throat all the heaviest and blackest will thus crawl?
-The shepherd however bit as my cry had admonished him; he bit with a strong bite! Far away did he spit the head of the serpent:- and sprang up.-
No longer shepherd, no longer man- a transfigured being, a light-surrounded being, that laughed! Never on earth laughed a man as he laughed!
O my brethren, I heard a laughter which was no human laughter,- and now gnaweth a thirst at me, a longing that is never allayed. My longing for that laughter gnaweth at me: oh, how can I still endure to live! And how could I endure to die at present!-