Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin


In lovely blueness

The church tower with its metal roof flowers in lovely blueness. Cries of swallows hover around it, and a poignant shade of blue encircles it. The sun rises high above it and gives color to the lead, yet the weathercock crows silently aloft in the wind. When someone comes down from the belfry, then life is still, and the descending figure seems very detached as the image of the person emerges. The windows through which the bells sound are like gates to beauty.


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The first lines of a fragmentary manuscript copied in 1823 by Wilhelm Waiblinger, a literary-minded university student. He writes that he took the poet out for walks, which could have included climbing the tower of the Stiftskirche in Tübingen, a short walk from the poet's lodgings. Perhaps this brief passage describes a person descending the shadowed steps from the church belfry to become transfigured in the sunlight.

Hölderlin again makes mention of the pictures that surround him. The phrase "life is still" (ein stilles Leben) might be thought of as a still-life painting, fixed in the"picture-ness"(Bildsamkeit) of the moment.


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