Hölderliniae

The Hölderlin Tower, on the Neckar, Tübingen, Germany

Yesterday, thanks to Cæsura, I got wind of Nathaniel Tarn’s forthcoming collection, The Hölderliniae, a book of poems wherein, “via affairs of love and polity, Tarn speaks through Hölderlin, and Hölderlin speaks through Tarn.”

I received this news with a mix of excited interest and rueful disappointment. On the one hand, like so very many, I hold Hölderlin’s poetry in very high esteem, not least because of its relation to the enduring pertinence of Jena Romanticism, so you can bet a copy of Tarn’s new book will be in my hands warm, if not hot, off the press. On the other, drafts of my own palimpsestic engagements with Hölderlin’s poems, specifically “Heidelberg” and “The Neckar”, now seemed somehow pre-empted.

Of course, Tarn is hardly the only poet to mix things up with Hölderlin this way. In 2018, The Song Cave issued Jonathan Larson’s translation of Friederike Mayröcker’s Scardanelli, and a friend brought to my attention Endre Kukorelly’s H.Ö.L.D.E.R.L.I.N. (1999).

But, then, it occurred to me I had composed poems I could include in this company. Like Mayröcker, my poems allude to Hölderlin by the nom de plume he himself adopted during his (so-called) madness. The first, from Grand Gnostic Central, “Holy Crow Channels Scardanelli” “condenses” some of Hölderlin’s late poetry. The second (graciously published by Dispatches from the Poetry Wars), “Ein Zeichen sind wir…” (We are a sign…) plays off these famous words from a draft of Hölderlin’s “Mnemosyne” and gives a twist to some of the themes common to Hölderlin’s poetry in general.

Time to get back to work on my own Hölderliniae. “I’m told you’re disappointed I have yet / as Scardanelli would write to sing / of Heidelberg…”

 

 

 

Holy Crow Channels Scardanelli

for Moritz Gaede

 

When from the sky bright bliss itself

Calms and quiets the afternoon through

The pleasant world I’ve made my friend

I am no more, I live no more gladly

Life’s lines various harmonies rich

With peace as who today men brightly halo

Is known, which depth of the spirited succeeds

Of a man say I, if he is good

Daedalus’s spirit and the wood’s is yours

The said, that the earth herself turns from

And perfection is without complaint

When unseen and now past are pictures

So shines nature with her splendour from the earth

 

 

 

 

Ein Zeichen sind wir

 

Like preScardanelli Scardanelli would put it

The Thunderer himself just a heartbeat cut

 

The current crashing my chronocide, and twice

Since noon the same software CTD’d in concurrence.

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