Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin


 

Homecoming

6.

And you, Angels of the house, come! Spread what
Is heavenly through all the veins of life, ennobling
And invigorating and dispensing joy! So that joyful angels
May attend upon human goodness every hour of the day,
And that such joy as I experience now, when loved ones
Are properly reunited, be suitably sanctified.
When we bless the meal, upon whom shall I call,
And when we rest after the day’s activity, tell me,
How will I offer thanks? Should I call the Highest by name?
A god doesn’t like what is inappropriate. Our joy is almost
Too small to grasp him. We must often remain silent,
Sacred names are missing—hearts are beating, yet
Speech cannot emerge? But string music lends
Sounds to every hour, and perhaps that pleases
The approaching gods. With the music begun,
The worries almost vanish that interrupted our joy.
Willingly or not, poets must often concern themselves
With such things, but not with others.

 

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Notes

 

In summary: Strophes 1-4 relate the course of the poet's journey journey from Switzerland over Lake Constance to his Swabian homeland. In Strophe 5 he is happily reunited with his family in his mother's home, and then announces that he has brought news of the great Father's plan to bestow gifts from heaven. The last strophe delivers a mission statement regarding the poet's career. Poets exist to create a language which enables discourse between gods and humans, even when such simple matters as saying grace at table are involved. Semantic proprieties must be observed when the gods are invoked, although music may fill in when the right words are missing.

 

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