98  ❦ ELUCIDATIONS OF HÖLDERLIN'S POETRY

decides in advance concerning men and gods, whether they are, and who they are, and how they are, and when they are.

What is coming is said in its coming through a calling. Beginning with this poem, Hölderlin's word is now the calling word. Hölderlin's word is now hymnos in a newly characterized and unique sense. We usually translate the Greek word ὑμνεῖν by the words "to praise" and "to celebrate." We easily understand by this translation a song and celebration of praise that is drunk with words. But now the poetic word is a foundational saying. The word of this song is no longer a "Hymn to" something, neither a "Hymn to the Poets," nor a hymn "to" nature; rather, it is the hymn "of the holy." The holy bestows the word, and itself comes into this word. This word is the primal event of the holy. Hölderlin's poetry is now a primordial calling which, called by what is coming, says this and only this as the holy. The hymnal word is now "compelled by the holy," and because compelled by the "holy," also "sobered by the holy." So says a fragment from the year 1800 which is entitled "German Song":


. . . then sits in the deep shade
When above his head the elm tree rustles,
By the stream that breathes out coolness the German poet
And sings, when of the water sobered by the holy
Enough he has drunk, listening far out into the stillness
To the song of the soul.

(Fragment no. 10, IV2, 244)


The "deep shade" saves the poetic word from the too great brightness of the "heavenly fire." The "stream that breathes out coolness" protects the poetic word from a too strong blaze of the "heavenly fire." The coolness and shade of sobriety correspond to the holy. This sobriety does not deny inspiration. Sobriety is the sensibility that is always ready for the holy.

Hölderlins word conveys the holy thereby naming the space of time that is only once, time of the primordial decision for the essential order of the future history of gods and humanities.

This word, though still unheard, is preserved in the Occidental language of the Germans.


Elucidations of Hölderlin's Poetry (GA 4) by Martin Heidegger