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Translation and Exegesis in Hlderlin Author(s): David Constantine Reviewed work(s): Source: The Modern Language Review, Vol.

81, No. 2 (Apr., 1986), pp. 388-397 Published by: Modern Humanities Research Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 28/05/2012 11:36
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Several times in his poetry (but never in his letters or in his theoretical writings) Holderlin depicts or speaks of the poet as mediator between God and Man or as interpreter of God's word to Man. The best-known such occasion is in the poem 'Wie wenn am Feiertage .. .': Dochunsgebiihrt es, unterGottesGewittern, Ihr Dichter! mitentbloBtem Hauptezu stehen Des VatersStral,ihn selbst,miteignerHand Zu fassenunddemVolkins Lied Gehiilltdie himmlische Gaabezu reichen. (1.56)1 He often seems, in the course of a poem, to be engaged in an act of interpretationof a landscape, an event, a story, or a text. Thus he treats the course of the Rhine or the Danube, or the trend of the hills north-west from Vienna into Germany. He addresses himself continually to the French Revolution and the subsequent wars, with the intention of making sense of them in a hopeful way. Both into 'Die Wanderung' and into 'Stimme des Volks' (2. Fassung) he incorporates a legend or historical account; both poems implicitly and at times explicitly interpret that material as they proceed, and the latter concludes with the statement: ... wohl Sindgut die Sagen,dennein GedichtniB sind Dem H6chstensie, dochauchbedarfes Eines,die heiligenauszulegen. 'Patmos' may be said to practise its own concluding advice 'daB gepfleget werde Der veste Buchstab, und bestehendes gut Gedeutet' by retelling, with many allusions to St John's Gospel, the story of Christ's Ministry and Passion and formulating on the way consolatory aphorisms in Pindar's manner: 'Denn alles ist gut' (1.88) or 'Und es griinen Tief an den Bergen auch lebendige Bilder' (11.I I9-20). Although there is more to the poem than that (telling the story and interpreting it as consolingly as possible belongs in a context: it answers the predicament depicted in the opening lines) 'Patmos' may be indicated here as Holderlin's most sustained act of exegesis within the economy of a poem, most like Pindar's way with his myths (in 'Pythian iv', for example). Holderlin commonly adopts the stance of mediator or interpreter in his verse. Nevertheless, that stance cannot be taken at face value. It was not one that could be sustained in H6lderlin's life and times. Like so much else that he derived from or was tempted towards by Pindar he could not honestly make it work, or not as it had worked for Pindar. H6lderlin knew the differencesperfectlywell; his failure to finish 'Wie wenn am Feiertage .. .' must in part be due to his realizing the untenability of his self-depiction, and it is unfortunatethat he should often appear in literaryhistory in that impossible pose.
1 I4-16. All quotations from Holderlin's works are based on the text of Compare also 'Dichterberuf', 11. the Grofie Stuttgarter Ausgabe,edited by Friedrich Beissner and Adolf Beck, 8vols (Stuttgart, 1943-85). References to passages other than the text of the poems are given to volume and page in this edition.



The conditions in which a poet might credibly claim to be acting as God's mediator or interpreter did not exist in Holderlin's life and times; his poetry, which is rooted in the painful awareness of that fact, longs for circumstances in which he might really occupy such a role. Put rather drastically: he labours to create a God of whom he might be the interpreter. He does not speak, as prophet or mediator, to a community, but labours to create a community he might address. The condition of H6lderlin's poetry is, precisely, the absence of God and community; through his poetry he seeks to recover, create, or realize them. It is true that much of what he writes, both in concrete detail and in tone, seems to assume and proclaim both community and divine presence; but in context a constant illusoriness will be discerned. Indeed, it is there, in discernible illusoriness, that much of the pathos and poignancy of his work is felt. What Holderlin wanted was divine immanence, but the most he could honestly proclaim, and that in the teeth of an unpromising world, was imminence. And the true motto or injunction of his poety is: 'O kommt! o macht es wahr!' ('Stutgard', 1. I05). Clearly, Holderlin cannot be regarded as the exponent of any orthodox theology, but not as the exponent of any unorthodox one either. His 'theology' does not preexist or exist outside his work. Religious persuasion in his poetry is of his own making; it comes into being, or is realized, only as the poem progresses. A poem by of sense, not the interpretationof any pre-existent text, belief, or H6lderlin is a maker coherent significance. H6lderlin's predicament was that described by Friedrich Schlegel as characteristically modern: he lacked a mythology, and was obliged to create one. What he set up in his poetry has remarkablecoherence and persuasiveness, but remains none the less a fiction, of his making. When he says in 'Der Rhein' of the Alps that they are the citadel of the gods 'nach alter Meinung' the phrase is only a semblance of authority. He designated them thus in hismythology, as the 'mir' in the previous line more or less admits: Das mirdie g6ttlichgebaute, Die BurgderHimmlischen heiBt NachalterMeinung... (1.4) The whole geographical-mythological construct, in which the Alps rise at the heart of the New Hesperia, is radiantly illusory. When later (in 'An die Madonna') H6lderlin etymologizes over the Knochenberg in Westphalia or broods on the 4I f.) these are instances, less successful sluggishness of the Danube ('Der Ister', 11. as his poetic tact deserted him, of the same ostensibly interpretative but actually inventive process. Then within the mythology thus created, as a working part of it, the poet himself appears, in the role of mediator and interpreter. H6lderlin shared both the Romantic presumption that all material and spiritual reality is so much stufffor the poet's imagination to work with and create what it can of, and also the Romantic anxiety that what the imagination thus constructs will collapse in the end like a house of cards. But in H6lderlin's case the illusoriness of the images is never denied and his anxiety concerns their efficacy or the propriety of his whole poetic-religious undertaking. Anxiety becomes longing that the visions be true, and by anxious longing the poem is driven onward to more and more beautiful and persuasive realizations of the lost and (he prays) imminently to be recovered ideal. The poetry is like a perpetual prayer to or assault upon God, to force His
. . des Alpengebirgs,


Translation andExegesis in Hilderlin

appearance. Some theologians think of Christ's crucifixionsimilarly, as a willed act, to force the Father's hand. What is reallywanted is revelation, of which the poems would then be the documents. Instead: a constant assault, by ever more poignantly persuasive fictions. The danger of catastrophic disappointment in this enterprise is obvious. Holderlin, Nerval, and Rimbaud resemble one another in the suicidal boldness of their bids for revelation. Rimbaud concluded: 'Enfin, je demanderai pardon pour m'etre nourri de mensonge.'2 H6lderlin's poems are not the documents of a revelation, nor are they an interpretation of the ways of God to Man. They are poems, moved primarily by the longing for revelation and for immanence, and the interpretative tone and stance which they sometimes adopt are only elements among others in their total composition. H6lderlin's poetological essays are so strange and difficult that they can scarcely be thought of as attempted elucidations of the poetic process. He could write perfectly clearly on the workings of poetry when he wanted to, as his letters to Neuffer, also written in Homburg, very often prove. True, he cannot have intended the essays for publication in the form in which they survive, but even if he was writing privately and even if our texts are only drafts, still that manner of writing is extremely odd. I take the essays to be an attempt to write about poetry in prose - in a prose by which the subject, poetry, would not be in the least reduced or travestied. His prose itself then is obliged to undergo or enact something akin to the process it is seeking to describe. For example, the monstrous opening sentence of <'Uber die Verfahrungsweise des poetischen Geistes'> congregates within one syntactic unit, within the protasis of a conditional sentence, all those preconditions of the act of composition which must be simultaneously fulfilled before composition can begin. At the moment of their fulfilment they are felt as a whole state; in the medium of prose discourse, however, they can only be listed in a manner all but exceeding the reach of the rationally reading mind. There is a fundamental contradiction between the pose of the essay - its apparent undertaking to describe the poetic process and the language in which that description then ensues. So perhaps the poetic process cannot be described but can only be enacted, and prose which is the natural language of description and elucidation is pushed beyond its limits in the attempt. The prose of the essay, like the poem itself, is to serve as a means of realization; and realization, enacted in the text and undergone by the reader as he reads, is a fuller experience than the rational comprehensionwhich an elucidating prose might bring about. The proper medium for such realization is undoubtedly poetry, and the essays may be said to founder on the intrinsic nature of prose (its inherent inability to enact the poetic process). Still, there are moments: In eben diesem Augenblike,wo sich die urspriingliche lebendige,nun zur reinen eines im Unendals Unendliches Unendlichen Stimmung gelauterte Empfindung, empfanglichen in diesemAugenblike Ganzenbefindet, ist es, wo lichen,als geistigesGanzeim lebendigen man sagenkann,daBdie Sprache wird,und wennnunwie in der urspriinglichen geahndet und verallgemeinernd, eine Reflexionerfolgt,so ist sie nicht mehrauflosend Empfindung biszurblosenStimmung, sie giebtdemHerzen alleswieder, undausbildend, was vertheilend, Kunst war, und mit sie ihm nahm, sie ist belebendeKunst, wie sie zuvorvergeistigende
einem Zauberschlage um den andern ruft sie das verlorene Leben sch6ner hervor, bis es wieder so ganz sich fuihlt, wie es sich urspriinglich fiihlte. (iv, 261) 2 Rimbaud, (Euvres (Paris, I962), p. I98 ('Une saison en enfer').

DAVIDCONSTANTINE But realizations in verse will come more readily to mind:

Des gemeinsamen Geistes Gedanken sind, Still endend in der Seele des Dichters,


DaB schnellbetroffensie, Unendlichem Bekannt seit langer Zeit, von Erinnerung Erbebt, und ihr, von heilgem Stral entziindet, Die Frucht in Liebe geboren, der Gotter und Menschen Werk Der Gesang, damit er beiden zeuge, gliikt. ('Wie wenn am Feiertage .. .', 1.43) Or: Da rauschten Lebendiger die Quellen, es athmeten

Derdunkeln ErdeBliithenmichliebendan,

Und lachelnd iiber Silberwolken Neigte sich seegnend herab der Aether. ('Geh unter, sch6ne Sonne', 1. I2) enact the coming of fulfilment, they realize

in H6lderlin's phrase (IV,243). immanence, render it tangible, 'fiihlbarund gefuihlt'

The business of poetry, according to H6lderlin, is to express the Spirit. When a poet composes a poem he renders the Spirit 'fiihlbar', he makes it able to be apprehended, he realizes it. Poetry then is an act of translation ('Ubertragung') of Spirit into appropriate form, and the poem itself, in its total working, is a process through which the Spirit may be realized. There is nothing especially difficult in this view of poetry, except to know what Holderlin means by the Spirit. Elsewhere he speaks of the lyric poem as 'eine fortgehende Metapher Eines Gefuihls' (iv, 266), and there we are on more familiar ground. In that understanding the poem serves to externalize an emotional state, which will not necessarily be the feelings the poet has in his own personal life but which must nevertheless derive 'aus des Dichters eigener Welt und Seele . . . weil sonst ilberall die rechte Wahrheit fehlt, und fiberhaupt nichts verstanden und belebt werden kan' (iv, I50). The poetic process is then a carrying-over of 'das eigene Gemiith und die eigene Erfahrung in einen fremden analogischen Stoff' (iv, I50). The metaphor, that into which the feelings are carried over, must be a fitting one, it must be 'analog'; but also, interestingly, it must be

Both poems, at those moments,

would be increased by their being in some way at odds with the intangibles they were serving to express. I need not pursue this here; I only indicate that creative contradiction is at the heart of H6lderlin's poetics. From the 'Verfahrungsweise' we learn that the feelings a poet has are not themselves the Spirit that his poem must express. Those feelings, Holderlin says, are themselves material at the disposal of the Spirit as it progresses in the poem towards self-realization. Spirit then, pressing to be realized, will use our own feelings as a means. The terminology of H6lderlin's poetics is, again and again, religious. Poetry was (iv, 281). The Spirit wanting expression via poetry is divinity itself; or, put another

'fremd'. Poetry translates intangible feelings into tangible equivalents; it displaces or 'alienates' them. But more than this, which most poets would subscribe to, H6lderlin also believed that the expressiveness of material correlatives in poetry

for him a religious act and all religion was, he said, 'ihrem Wesen nach poetisch'


Translation andExegesis in Holderlin

way, what the poet wants his poem to do is to realize divinity, incorporate God. There are several very poignant moments in H6lderlin's verse when he ascribes to feeling humanity a role as the vehicle of God: Dennweil Die Seeligsten nichtsfiihlenvon selbst, MuBwohl,wennsolcheszu sagen Erlaubt ist, in derGotterNahmen Theilnehmend fuhlenein Andrer, Den brauchen sie ...
('Der Rhein', 1. og9)

The gods need human beings in that capacity: 'Denn es ruhn die Himmlischen gern am fuihlendenHerzen' ('Der Archipelagus', 1.235).3 We ourselves, in our capacity to feel, serve as a materialization of divinity. We are metaphors of God, that into which He is driven to put Himself. It hardly needs pointing out that this process, by which the gods, themselves unfeeling, realize themselves through sentient humanity, is akin to the act of 'Ubertragung' (translation and metaphor) which is the composition of a poem. But to say that the Spirit, God, the gods, or divinity are pressing for utterance in humankind and human art is only metaphorical - and of what? Of ourlonging for God, whose manifest absence is the premise of every poem.4 Thus any poem serving the realization of the Spirit, and aiming as it proceeds at the condition of immanence, in practice realizes its own illusoriness:it is all project and prayer, and its true immanence, what is fully realized, 'fiihlbar und gef'ihlt', is absence and longing. All poetry is an act of making manifest, and all poets are fascinated by expressions. H6lderlin, raising poetry to religious status and wishing the poem to serve as the expression of divinity itself, naturally connected composition and incarnation. Just as in the composition of a poem feelings are 'alienated' into material equivalents, so too pure Spirit is realized in the 'impurity' of matter ('das Reine kan sich nur darstellen im Unreinen' (vI, 290) ), and so too God alienated and expressed Himself in the person of Christ ('eussert sich selbs Iund nam Knechts gestalt an', in Luther's version ofPhilippians 2. 7). In Holderlin's eclectic mythology Christ is only one such figure. Dionysos and Herakles are two more. Zeus in that sense manifested himself freely: Art ... undS6hn'in heiliger Und Tochterzeugte Der Hoheunterden Menschen. 1.Io) ('DerEinzige', Divinity manifests itself in other ways too: Wasist Gott?unbekannt, dennoch Voll Eigenschaften ist dasAngesicht Des Himmelsvonihm.Die Blizenemlich Der ZornsindeinesGottes...
(II, 2I0)

3 Compare in the same poem lines 27 and 6o-6I; also II, 123, 11.15-20, and 'Die Titanen', 11. 53-54. Life on earth is 'sinnig' ('Die Titanen', 1.59). 4 Similarly, in Rilke's First Elegy: 'Ja, die Friihlinge brauchten dich wohl.' Really: weneed to be needed.



H6lderlin loved to use words for the act of showing forth:'zeigen', 'Zeichen', 'Wink', 'Merkmal', and so on occur often and strikingly, especially in his later verse; in the last rhyming poems, so curious in their mixing of abstractions with bare phenomena, the word 'zeigen' recurs almost compulsively. The fragment 'Was ist Gott?', from which I quoted above, states categorically: 'Jemehr ist eines | Unsichtbar, <desto mehr?>schiket es sich in Fremdes.' The moving spirit of Holderlin's world is a perpetual striving for manifestation and utterance. Phenomena are more or less explicit renderingsof urgent abstracts: DennSchnee,wie Majenblumen wo Das Edelmiithige, Es seie, bedeutend, glinzet auf DergriinenWiese DerAlpen,halftig... 1.25) ('Mnemosyne', 3. Fassung, In such a world it is natural that the poet himself sometimes should step forward as interpreter and point out these signs or help them into greater explicitness. H6lderlin associated poetry's usual aim (making manifest) with the revelation and incarnation of divinity in material and apprehensible things. Indeed, in his own ideal conception of poetic vocation and practice the two would actually fuse: what the ideal poem manifests is God. But in practice that fusion is only longed for. The two spheres - poetic expression and divine incarnation - may be persuasively depicted as analogous, but that is all. The poetry depicting such attractive coherence is in fact labouring to bring it about. Simply: he wishes the analogies were literally true. Much of the poignancy of Holderlin's images lies in their would-be effectiveness; they seem by their beauty and persuasiveness to be engaged in effecting their own realization. H6lderlin, being a 'difficult'poet, is often read reductively and acquisitively. It may be that the pose of interpreter and the metaphor of exegesis in his work have encouraged readers, or editors and critics at least, to follow suit. But if the writing of poetry is, in Holderlin's terms, the translation of Spirit into appropriate form, the reading of it cannot be merely a translating back. The poem in its entirety is a metaphor, and it is axiomatic that metaphors are not reducible back into what they body forth. Spirit is not apprehensible except in the poem's form; it cannot be rendered back, because by such a process it would become inapprehensible again. The products of such an attempted rendering back - elucidations, explanations are not the Spirit itself but mere 'Wissen um', in Nietzsche's phrase. Strictly what speaking, in strict accordance with H6lderlin's poetics, there is no way of saying a poem is about; we realize it as we read, in the poem's precise forms, and to convert that realization into discursive 'knowing about' is not a gain but a loss. Such knowledge, once acquired, can actually hinder and impair our readings thereafter. We know in advance what we think and what we ought to feel, our ready interpretation immunizes us against the poem; or, worse, as we reread we try to remember what we thought (what we knew)and what we ought to feel. But what matters is realization; and knowledge in advance, remembered knowledge about, is a hindrance to that. To read these poems well we need constantly to forget. That is an extreme position, and it may be an absurd one, and probably no reader, however well disposed to do so, would be able in practice to adopt it. But I do believe


Translation andExegesis in Hilderlin

that by such a reading, were it possible, we should match Holderlin's poetics, and as a direction in reading, I believe it to be both practicable and desirable. Much harm is done by thinking of the poem as a means to an end, and the gesture of exegesis, if we take it at face value, may reinforce this harmful attitude of mind. Poems are not the mere vehicles by which truths are served up for us to take away. It is perhaps better to think of the poem as a means by which a realization may take place than as a means by which some possessable thing is communicated. Again: the Spirit is apprehensible in the poem's form - but that form is notthe Spirit, only the means of its realization and its being made apprehensible. Perhaps the truth of the poem, our growing realization of the Spirit it is rendering,can and should be felt only as we read: we cannot take it away, because the truth of the poem is not apprehensible outside the poem's workings. If that also seems an extreme position, that we cannot havethe truth of poems, then again it might be one worth moving towards at least, as a counter to the view, in poetry and elsewhere, that everything can be had or that what cannot be had is not worth having. The gesture of exegesis in Holderlin's poetry, the gesture of handing on to the reader an elucidated truth, needs to be read as something consciously illusory, as a metaphor within a whole metaphoric structure whose emotional premise is, precisely, the absence of the conditions of real exegesis, and the poems themselves contain many hints of the illusoriness of their own most confident gestures. Often H6lderlin aimed at a suspension of possible meanings in a condition which is true in the poem but which breaks up into mere logical contradictions and irreconcilablesif rendered into discursive exposition.5 But along with that very characteristic tentativeness, equivocalness, and humility there runs also the wish to speak out, to be indeed the forthright exegete. In the late verse (after Bordeaux) this tendency or temptation becomes very marked. 'Umsonst nicht. . .' and 'Vieles ware IZu sagen davon .. .' typify his compulsion to act as interpreter. To get at the poetry, at the aptness of the poetry to his predicament, we need to feel notjust the reticence, and certainly not just the interpreting gesture and the pose of speaking out, but the tension between the two. There are similes in late H6lderlin which in practice belie their ostensible function: instead of serving to elucidate the less familiar by the more, they set up a parity, a mutual irradiation which we might call directionless. Thus: Wie Meereskiisten, wennzu baun die Himmlischen undherein Anfangen einePracht, das Werk Schifft unaufhaltsam, Der Woogen,einsumsandere,unddie Erde Sichriistetaus, daraufvom eines Freudigsten Mit guterStimmung, zu rechtes legendalsoschlagtes Dem Gesang,mit demWeingott, vielverheiBend dembedeutenden Und der Lieblingin Des Griechenlandes Der meergeborenen, schiklich blikenden Das gewaltige Gutans Ufer.
(II, 205)6

45-67. 6 'Wie V6gellangsamziehn.. .' worksin the sameway, I think.I takethe word'Fiirst'to meanboth 'leader of theflockof birds'andalso'prince'. Thustheprince is compared to thebird,buttheirattributes andactivities in parity. remain suspended

5 I have tried to demonstrate this in 'The Meaning of a Holderlin Poem', Oxford German Studies, 9 (1978),



The basic comparative structure ('Wie Meereskiisten ... also schlagt es dem Gesang .... das gewaltige Gut ans Ufer') is complicated within the syntactic unit of a single sentence, to such a degree that no easy passage from the comparison to the subject being 'elucidated' is possible. The essentially mysterious process of poetry remains contained withinthe phenomenon supposedly elucidating it: 'Wie Meereskiisten .. . ans Ufer'. The same tendency, towards parity and towards an immunity against acquisitive reading, may be discerned much earlier: for example, in the Homeric simile which opens 'Wie wenn am Feiertage . .'. There too the details of the 'wie' clauses, offeredas the concrete real details of a comparison and in that sense subordinate to what follows after the 'so', belie that function and status by having first latently and then actually a figurative sense in the context of the whole poem. The equivocal pronoun 'sie' in line Io, working, like others too (11. 37, 45), both forwards and back, stitches the strophes together, so that the details in the opening lines are not merely a means to an end (our better understanding of the poets' predicament) and as such discardable once our understanding is assured; they continue in play, with greater and greater resonance, throughout. The opening of 'Die Wanderung' works similarly: there is no clear division of literal and figurative and so no subordination of the formerto the latter, but the light of figurativemeaning, like the apprehension of divine immanence, shifts to and fro over the landscape of mountains, ice, and streams. Other instances, particularly landscapes at the openings of poems, will come to mind. This technique effectively blocks any facile 'ascent' from literal to figurative, as it were from the ostensible to the real meaning of the poem. The real can only be realized in the ostensible. One historical sense of the word 'deuten' given by Grimm is 'to render into the vernacular' - 'dem Volk, den Deutschen verstandlich machen, verdeutschen'.7To interpret is to translate, and vice versa. In the months afterhis returnfrom Bordeaux Holderlin seems to have been fascinated by that kinship. For then he was not only engaged in the translation and elucidation of Sophocles's tragedies (a translation becoming more and more interpretative, one intending, as he said, to bring the original closer to 'unserer Vorstellungsart' (v, 268)) but also, in the PindarFragmente, composing a curiously coherent work of translation and exegesis commake in every case a coherent bined. Title, text, and commentary of the Fragmente itself is a sometimes But the text translation, very literal in the manner of the entity. earlier Pindar renderings and sometimes more interpretative in the manner of the latest stratum of the Sophocles. As German, it reads, quite intentionally, like translated language; or we might say it has a strangeness which is at least analogous to and in places identical with the strangeness of true poetic language. This strangeness carries over into the commentaries themselves, into that part of the total work which is ostensibly explicating (in the clear vernacular) the difficult foreign text, as in the lovely VOM DELPHIN MeeresTiefevon Floten Den in des wellenlosen derGesang. Bewegthat liebenswiirdig der Musen,wenn iber Bliithendie Wolken,wie Der Gesangder Natur,in derWitterung Floken,hingen, und iiber dem Schmelzvon goldenenBlumen.Um diese Zeit giebtjedes Nurder WesenseinenTon an, seineTreue,dieArt,wie einesin sichselbstzusammenhangt.
7Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsches WMrterbuch, 33 vols (Leipzig, I854-I971),



Translation andExegesis in Holderlin

inderNatur,daBalsoallesmehrGesang derArtenmachtdanndieTrennung Unterschied und reineStimmeist, als Accentdes Bediirfnisses oderaufderanderen SeiteSprache. Es ist das wellenlose Fischdie PfeifederTritonen, das Echodes Meer,wo derbewegliche in denwaichenPflanzen des Wassers flihlt. (v, 284) Wachstums Also at this time H6lderlin was engaged in the radical revision of much of his own verse. As is seen most clearly in the case of'Der blinde Sanger' and 'Der gefesselte Strom', this took the form of a translation line by line and metrical unit by unit into more drastic language: Kraft,derGewaltige, nun,nuneilt er, er spottetderFesselnnun ... Der Zauderer, Strom',1.i I) ('Dergefesselte SichderGefesselte nun,nuneilt er derspottetderSchlaken nun ... Der Linkische;
('Ganymed', 1. 1) ... Im Zorne reinigt aber . . und nun gedenkt er seiner

With the analogy of translationin mind it is instructive to compare the versions in the greatest detail. But more broadly what happens is this: the poem, already as poem a metaphor and structuredupon a furthermetaphor (the melting of ice or the recovery of sight), is shifted furtherinto metaphor, as the new titles 'Ganymed' and 'Chiron' indicate. This process is clearest in the rewriting of 'Der gefesselte Strom'. The meaning of the poem (what it conveys) in both versions is resurgence, re-animation, recovery of the Spirit. In the firstversion that feeling is enacted in or carriedover into the melting of the river's ice at the onset of spring. The ostensible subject of the poem then, serving metaphorically, is, as a discarded title indicated, 'Der Eisgang'. The river, itselfa metaphor, is depicted as a divine youth, the son ofOcean, in a torporand forgetful of his origins. And he, metaphor of the river, is depicted as fettered. On rewriting Holderlin forfeited none of these strata but added another: that of Ganymede in his own version of the myth, which has the boy now exiled from former bliss in heaven and in the course of the poem recoveringit. Ganymede, himself acting metaphorically, is depicted throughout with beautiful aptness (because of his association with Ida of the many streams and his being the son of the nymph Callirhoe) as a river, as 'der Stromgeist'. The new metaphor, Ganymede, running alongside and sometimes fusing with the old, the released river,intensifies our feeling of resurgence, helps us realize it, but simultaneously hinders exit from the poem into discursive explanation. Where the metaphorsfuse there is great intensity, and where they part and run parallel it is as though the sense of the poem were passing between mirrorsand being cast to and fro beyond our ability to apprehend. In rewriting 'Der blinde Sanger' Holderlin worked for the same effects. The basic metaphorical predicament, the blind poet waiting for sight, itselfdepicted as a waiting for daylight, is then shifted further and, I think, complicated, into the metaphor of the wounded Chiron longing for his release. The awaited light, sight, daybreakin the final version is, with the coming of Herakles, simultaneously extinction. and to some extent in the My point is this: certainly in the Pindar-Fragmente Sophocles translations and their appended very difficult notes, a structure is set up, one of the exegesis of a text, which is actually belied in its own practice. We are not led



outfrom Pindar's text via translation and exegesis into the clear vernacular. Instead we are kept withina work whose power to move us has been enhanced; this occurs again in the later versions of'Der gefesselte Strom' and 'Der blinde Sanger'. Indeed 'Das Belebende' greatly resembles those poems, not just in its subject the Fragment (centaurs and rivers) but also in that it holds its metaphors in parallel or in mutually-reflecting suspense. Longing, the condition, the 'Zustand des Herzens', which Holderlin's poems realize in themselves and in the reader as they proceed, constitutes the poem's moral power. This wants emphasizing, because, by indicating those means by which the poem resists reduction and elucidation, I may seem to have been suggesting that H6lderlin's verse is hermetic. True, there is no way out of the poem into possessable discursive meaning; true, particularly in the later verse, Holderlin strove consciously to block such facile exits. But what he thereby achieved is not something hermetically sealed within aesthetic form and having no connexion with our moral and practical lives. On the contrary, he achieved an intensification of the poem's fundamental realization - the condition of longing. The injunctions of poetry are never (or not often) very specific, but they may nevertheless be very powerful, and those of Holderlin's poetry certainly are. Longing drives his poems, drives them to utopian visions, and that then is the effect of the poem on a reader reading unacquisitively and realizing in himself or herself the poem's own process: we are moved between regret and longing and filled with a conviction of the Spirit's transforming power. H6lderlin concludes his 'Unter den Alpen gesungen' thus: undfreiwillich, so des Himmels! Langich darf,euchall', ihrSprachen Deutenundsingen. The lines have to be read metaphorically within the metaphor constituted by the whole poem, but even taken at face value they might caution us against reductive reading. 'Deuten' is akin to translation. The writing of the poem is a translation of the Spirit into fitting form. That poem ('singen') is then the exegesis, or that is the form which the exegesis and translation of the Spirit have on this occasion taken. Thus what we read is not further explicable, it is the Spirit's maximum, fullest, and finest bodying forth, and in that sense then it cannot, without impairment, be further elucidated. The exegesis has already taken place. What the readerhas to do is realize it. I have a lasting affection for B611'sLeni Pfeiffer who sang and chanted a compilation of bits and pieces from 'Der Rhein' and 'Da ich ein Knabe war . ..'and realized thus, perhaps more than most, the will that there is in all good poetry to expand and liberate life.8 DAVID CONSTANTINE

8 I am glad to acknowledge a debt to Professor WaltherKilly, especiallyfor his article'Holderlins I66' in Uber des Pindarfragments editedbyJochenSchmidt(Frankfurt Holderlin, a.M., Interpretation Holderlin:The Theory and Practiceof ReligiousPoetry'(Universityof Durham, 1982) 'Friedrich to be betterknown. deserves
1970), pp.294-319; also to my former research student Dr Martin Simon, whose doctoral thesis