»...dichterisch wohnet der Mensch...«

“...Poetically Man Dwells...”

In this lecture delivered on 6 October 1951, Heidegger undertakes a dialogue with Friedrich Hölderlin. It is a meditation on the relation between thinking and language, and completes the earlier lecture Building Dwelling Thinking, in which thinking received only incidental treatment. Since language is conjoined with poetry, poetizing and thinking also belong together.

Dwelling designates the fundamental structure of being-there as in nearness to entities. As Hölderlin says in the poem that Heidegger interprets, man dwells between heaven and earth. This between is a dimension that admits of measuring. Since man dwells in this dimension, it is his task to do the measuring. Only insofar as man measures out his dwelling can he be in accordance with his singular and ownmost way of being.

The fundamental sense of measure lies in taking a measure. The measure is an appearance of being itself. In Hölderlin’s poem, being appears in the guise of an unknown god. The mystery of being is the process of unconcealment. The ontological difference and the ensuing forgottenness of being together conceal the measure of man’s dwelling. Man can only take this measure by letting it come to him in releasement. Man measures out the dimension between earth and heaven wherein he dwells. Thinking lets man dwell in nearness to entities. This kind of dwelling is primordial building. Since the measuring of man’s dwelling occurs in language as a response to the address of being, Heidegger calls this measuretaking “poetizing.”