Monday, July 01, 2002

If you think a blog inspired by Goethe is obscure, check out Gena Lewis's blog of Hölderlin translations.

Hölderlin was sort of the anti-Goethe. After the early Sturm und Drang years of Werther and Prometheus, Goethe took on a classical, stately, almost Olympian character. Goethe was blessed with many talents. Chicks dug him. Sort of a golden child. Hölderlin on the other hand, was sort of a combination of van Gogh and Emily Dickinson. A tragic, haunted soul from the beginning, he was always poor and was committed to a mental institution at the age of 36. Unfortunately, Goethe was totally unable to appreciate Hölderlin's talents. Hegel was also a friend of Hölderlin's and was racked with guilt at his inability to help him. I don't know whose translation of my favorite Hölderlin poem "To the Fates" this is:

A single summer grant me, great powers, and
A single autumn for fully ripened song
That, sated with the sweetness of my
Playing, my heart may more willingly die.

The soul that, living, did not attain its divine
Right cannot repose in the nether world.
But once what I am bent on, what is
Holy, my poetry, is accomplished:

Be welcome then, stillness of the shadows’ world!
I shall be satisfied, though my lyre will not
Accompany me down there. Once I
Lived like the gods, and more is not needed.

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