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My Delirium on Chimborazo (1822

Simón Bolívar

I came wrapped in the cloak of Iris, from where the mighty Orinoco pays tribute to the water gods. I had visited the enchanted springs of the Amazon, and I wanted to climb the watchtower of the world. I looked out the tracks of la Condamine, of Humboldt. Boldly I followed, nothing would stand in my way! I reached the icy regions, the thin air stifling my breath. No human foot had spoiled the diamond crown placed by the hands of eternity on this king of the Andes. I said to myself, “ This cloak of Iris has served as my standard, I have carried it to the infernal regions, crossed rivers and seas, and climbed to the very shoulders of the Andes; the Earth has yielded under the feet of Columbia and time itself has not been able to stop the march of freedom. Bellona has been humbled by the brilliance of Iris - will I not be able to tread on the white hairs of that giant of the Earth? The watchtower of the world? Yes, I will be able! Carried on by a spirit of violence, which seemed to me divine, I left behind the footprints of Humboldt and pushed on for the mists that circle Chimborazo. Compelled by spirit inside me I reached the summit. With my head touching the glass of the firmament and my feet at the thresholds of the great abyss, I felt weak. A feverish delirium filled my mind, I felt inflamed by a strange fire; it was the god of Columbia that had possessed me. Suddenly, Time appeared before me, he appears as a venerable old man, the weight of the ages upon him. Frowning, bent, bald and wrinkled, a scythe in his hand. “I am the father of the centuries; the mystery of fame and the secret knowledge; my mother was eternity. The boundaries of my empire are the infinite. There is no tomb for me, for I am more powerful than death! I watch the past, I watch the future and through my hand goes the present.” “Why do you think such vain thoughts? Whether you be young or old, a common man or a great hero, do you think that your universe is something? That you elevate yourself by climbing but one atom of creation? You think that the moments you call centuries can serve to make measurements of my secrets? Do you imagine you have seen the holy truth? Do you think, in your delirium, that your actions have some worth in my eyes? All you have is but a speck in the presence of the infinite” Seized with terror I responded “Oh time! How does the miserable mortal who has climbed so high not simply vanish? I have surpassed all men in fortune, for I have risen above them all. Here I stand with the Earth beneath my feet; I grasp the eternal with my hands; I feel the hellish pressures boiling beneath me; beside me I see the shining stars, the infinite suns; without astonishment I measure the space that encloses matter, and in your face I read the history of the past, and the thoughts of destiny.” “Observe,” spoke Time, “learn, conserve in your mind what you have witnessed. Draw for the eyes of your fellow men the picture of the physical universe, of the moral universe. Do not keep secret what heaven has revealed to you, tell them the truth!.” The vision vanished. Absorbed, lifeless, so to speak, I remained a long time examining my conscience. I lay stretched out upon that immense diamond that served as my bed. Finally, Columbia's tremendous voice resurrected me; I returned to life. I get up, with my own hands I open my heavy eyelids. I become a man once more, and write of my delirium.