Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin


To the Sun God

Where are you? Drunk, my mind becomes 
    Twilight after all your ecstasy. For I just saw
       How the enrapturing young god,
         Tired from his journey,

Bathed his youthful hair in the golden clouds.
    And now my eyes follow after him,
      But he is gone away to reverent
         Nations which still honor him.

I love the earth, which mourns with me.
   Like children when they are upset, our grief
      Changes to sleep. And as rustling winds
         Whisper over harp strings

Until the fingers of a master entice
    A prettier music, thus mist and dreams
      Play around us, until the beloved returns,
         And charges us with life and spirit.


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According to some Greek legends, the Sun God Phoebus Apollo stays during the dark hours with the Hyperboreans, a happy people resident at the end of the world who still honor him. The poem could be homoerotic, which might have pleased Apollo. That Hölderlin was not unclear on the concept is shown in his short poem below, which may or may not end with a bad pun:


“Why do you, holy Socrates, worship
   this beautiful youth instead of higher things?
      Why does your eye look lovingly upon him,
         as if he were a god?”

Who thinks deepest, loves what is most full of life.
   A person who looks into the world knows
      all about youth, and those who are wise
         often choose what is beautiful in the end.


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