Friedrich Hölderlin

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It was not delight, not wonder that arose among us, it was the peace of heaven.

Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin (20 March 17706 June 1843) was a major German lyric poet, whose work bridges the Classical and Romantic schools.


Caspar David Friedrich The Solitary Tree 1822
  • Wir sind nichts; was wir suchen, ist alles. - Fragment von Hyperion, aus: Neue Thalia, Vierter Band, Hrsg. Friedrich Schiller, Georg Joachim Göschen, Leipzig 1793, S. 220
    • We are nothing; what we search for is everything.
  • Wo aber Gefahr ist, wächst // das Rettende auch. - Patmos, 1803, Vers 3f. in: Gedichte von Friedrich Hölderlin, Druck und Verlag von Philipp Reclam jun., Leipzig 1873, S. 133
    • Wherein lies the danger, grows also the saving power.
  • Being at one is god-like and good, but human, too human, the mania
    Which insists there is only the One, one country, one truth, and one way.
    • "The Root of All Evil" as translated by Michael Hamburger
  • You seek life, and a godly fire
    Gushes and gleams for you out of the earth,
    As, with shuddering long, you
    Hurl yourself down to the flames of the Etna.

    So by a queen's wanton whim
    Pearls were dissolved in wine- heed her not!
    What folly, poet, to cast your riches
    Into that bright and bubbling cup!

    Yet still are you holy to me, as the might of the earth
    That bore you away, audaciously perishing!
    And I would follow the hero into the depths
    Did love not hold me.

    • "Empedokles"
  • The earth with yellow pears
    And overgrown with roses wild
    Upon the pond is bent,
    And swans divine,
    With kisses drunk
    You drop your heads
    In the sublimely sobering water.
    But where, with winter come, am I
    To find, alas, the floweres, and where
    The sunshine
    And the shadow of the world?
    Cold the walls stand
    And the wordless, in the wind
    The weathercocks are rattling.
    • "Halves of Life"
  • Wer das Tiefste gedacht, liebt das Lebendigste.
    • He who has thought most deeply loves what is most alive.
      • “Sokrates und Alcibiades”


  • Immerhin hat das den Staat zur Hölle gemacht, daß ihn der Mensch zu seinem Himmel machen wollte.
  • What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it heaven.
As translated by Michael Hamburger
  • Now we were standing close to the summit's rim, gazing out into the endless East.
  • What is all that men have done and thought over thousands of years, compared with one moment of love. But in all Nature, too, it is what is nearest to perfection, what is most divinely beautiful! There all stairs lead from the threshold of life. From there we come, to there we go.
  • What is the wisdom of a book compared with the wisdom of an angel?
  • I call on Fate to give me back my soul.
  • It was not delight, not wonder that arose among us, it was the peace of heaven.
    A thousand times have I said it to her and to myself: the most beautiful is also the most sacred. And such was everything in her. Like her singing, even so was her life.
  • Before either of us knew it, we belonged to each other.

Quotes about Friedrich Hölderlin[edit]

  • History has a way of reducing individuals to flat, two-dimensional portraits. it is the enemy of subjectivity, which is why Stephen Dedalus called it "a nightmare from which I am trying to awake". If we think of Kierkegaard, of Nietzsche, of Hölderlin, we see them standing alone, outside of history. They are spotlighted by their intensity, and the background is all darkness. They intersect history, but are not a part of it. There is something anti-history about such men; they are not subject to time, accident and death, but their intensity is a protest against it. I have elsewhere called such men "Outsiders" because they attempt to stand outside history. which defines humanity on terms of limitation, not of possibility.
    • Colin Wilson in Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs, p. 13-14 (1964)

External links[edit]

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