Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hölderlin's "Bread and Wine"

An important elegy, the most Dionysian of Hölderlin's work, with Michael Hamburger's translation:

And, from Hölderlin's “Fragment from Hyperion” (his novel about a young German who goes to Greece to fight in the war of independence), a description of the three states of existence as he sees them:


There are two ideals of our being: a state of highest simplicity, in which, without any efforts of our own, through nature’s exclusive organizing, our needs reciprocally harmonize with themselves and with our powers and with everything we relate to, and a state of highest education or formation [Bildung], in which the same thing would take place, only with infinitely multiplied and strengthened needs and powers and through the organization that we are able to give ourselves. The eccentric path, along which humans, in general and individually, pass from one point (of more or less perfect simplicity) to another (of more or less perfected education or formation [Bildung]), seems, according to its essential directions, always to be the same.