Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin


Bread and Wine


Holy Greece! Home of all the gods—so it’s true,
    What once we heard when we were young?
A festival hall, whose floor is the ocean, whose tables
    Are the mountains—anciently built for a single purpose.
But where are the thrones? Where the temples, the songs,
   The vases full of nectar for the pleasure of the gods?
Where are the oracles that shine for miles and miles?
    Delphi sleeps, and where does great Fate resound?
Where does Fate suddenly break forth, full of omnipresent
    Joy, thundering out of clear air over our eyes?
Father Aether! It called and flew from tongue to tongue
    A thousand times, and nobody had to endure life alone.
Shared, such fortune is a joy; exchanged with strangers,
    It becomes jubilant. Sleeping, the power of the word grows:
Father!  Joyful!  The ancient sign resounds, as far as it reaches,
    Inherited from the elders, striking, creating.
Thus the gods enter; thus the season of the gods falls
    From the shadows down to men, shaking the depths.


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The topography of ancient Greece is seen as a symbolic architecture for the worship of the gods, presided by Fate (μοῖρα) and Father Aether, the primordial god of light.




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