Hölderlin and My Bountiful Ignorance

15 September 2010 § Leave a comment

After reading this blogpost on the poet Friedrich Hölderlin, I started to realize how miserably I have failed by being ignorant of anything other than the man’s name all these years. Here’s an excerpt, from the article and one of Hölderlin’s poems:

Paul Hoover’s penetrating introduction to the translations points out the importance of Hölderlin’s concept of “coming-to-be through a going away (ein Entstehen durch ein Vergehen) – a way of seeing, I think, in which the poet “becomes more himself.” Hoover says, “Dissolution and union are continual and universal, in Hölderlin’s view, at all levels of experience … It is not a world empty of meaning that speaks in Hölderlin but rather the precariousness of consciousness.” The deity withdraws and leaves the man at the crossroads – but the poet’s embrace of dissolution (in the world, in his mind) empowers his freedom. No wonder Hölderlin was Nietzsche’s favorite poet. From “The Poet’s Vocation”:

But if he must, the man remains fearless.
Alone before god, simplicity keeps him safe.
He needs no weapons and no cunning,
As long as God’s absence comes to his aid.

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