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Selected Poems and Fragments (Penguin Classics: Poets in Translation) Paperback – Abridged, 28 May 1998
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About the Author
As well as his poems on classical themes, the German poet Friedrich Holderlin (1770-1843) is author of the novel HYPERION. Michael Hamburger was born in Berlin in 1924. His family emigrated to England in 1933. His own collections of poetry include FLOWERING CACTUS, WEATHER AND SEASON and OWNERLESS EARTH: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, and his many distinguished translations include versions of Hofmannsthal and Grass, as well as the POEMS AND FRAGMENTS, on which he worked for many years.
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Friends with German idealist philosophers Schelling and Hegel, he influenced the young Nietzsche and has been interpreted by giant thinkers Walter Benjamin and Martin Heidegger who saw in Holderlin a new Homer for Europe and the main anchor point for his philosophy. It is of course historically material that Holderlin was regarded as "schizophrenic" in his lifetime but that says more about the dogmatic and conformist culture of his time, still prevalent today, than it does Holderlin's mind which was able, for example, to provide a seminal translation of Sophocles. As a modern day classics student and amateur thinker, very drawn to the Hellenistic, Latin and Teutonic traditions, Holderlin is a point of reference for me as he truly is at the crossroads of these powerful currents which have so much to offer us in our day and age.
This Penguin edition is very handsome and includes the German script as well as Michael Hamburger's much-lauded English translations. It contains selections from Holderlin's entire creative life, be it the odes, the elegies, the hymns and so forth.
I recommend this book and Holderlin generally to all who have a penchant for Ancient Greece, Latin poetry and German literature or the Humanities generally, with a captial 'H'.
Holderlin is quite a discovery, not all that well known amongst most British poetry aficionados, I find.
Against a background of the possibility of psychosis, the fragmentation of some of the Hymns is interesting. Speaking personally, I preferred the earlier or indeed later works. But again and again he hits the nail on the head in describing his (and our) existential impoverishment and despair . Quite remarkable for a man writing at the very beginning of the process of industrial/post industrial mayhem whose now all too familiar horrors he could barely have imagined.
Some of his imagery and the articulation of his brilliantly rich and evocative lines is astounding.
A healing balm for the deep festering wounds of contemporary alienation, from a man who walked the walk,,,,
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The cover, a detail from a painting by Caspar David Friedrich of Grecian ruins on an island in the mist, sets the tone for this great selection of the tragic early 19th century poet Holderlin's work, illuminated by Michael Hamburger's sensitive translations and lovely introduction.
Where are you? Dazzled, drunken my soul grows faint
And dark with so much gladness; for even now
I listened while, too rich in golden
Sounds, the enrapturing youth, the sun-god
Intoned his evening hymn on a heavenly lyre;
All round the hills and forests re-echoed it,
Though far from here-to pious nations
Who still revere him-by now he's journeyed.
Wo bist du? Trunken dammert die Seele mir
Von aller deiner Wonne; denn eben ist's,
Dass ich gelauscht, wie, goldner Tone
Voll der entzukende Sonnenjungling
Sein Abendlied af himmlischer Leyer speilt';
Es tonten rings die Walder und Hugel nach.
Doch fern ist er zu frommen Volkern,
Die ihn noch ehren, hinweggegangen. (pp 16).
Enjoy the archaic read.