Monday, October 13, 2008

Hölderlin's poetry

This poem, written to the man caring for him, was written by the deeply incapacitated poet. There is a syntactical break in the second line which you'll see in my translation but which is glossed over by Mitchell. Note the ABBA rhyme scheme and the high-flown imagery.

What, readers of Hölderlin ask, is the difference between early, good, sane poetry, which is difficult and challenging and marked by very interesting syntactical breaks, and later stanzas written by the insane poet?

An Zimmern

Die Linien des Lebens sind verschieden,

Die Wege sind, und wie der Berge Grenzen.

Was hier wir sind, kann dort ein Gott ergänzen

Mit Harmonien und ewigem Lohn und Frieden.

To Zimmer

The lines of life are different,

The paths are, and like the mountain borders.

What we are here, a god can enhance there

With harmonies and eternal reward and peace.

(my translation)

For Zimmer

The lines of life are various, 
Like roads, and the borders of mountains.
What we are here, a god can complete there,
With harmonies, undying reward, and peace.

translation by James Mitchell

For an informative site containing more of Mitchell's translations, some contemporary images, notes, and a short biography, go to:


I said...

if there was one are multiple persons who posted these excellent Holderlin sources.... thank you, much appreciated..

I really connect with Holderlin... are you familiar with Origen?