Hölderlin and the Essence of Poetry ❦ 57
and able to hear from one another." Being able to hear is not merely a consequence of speaking with one another, but is on the contrary the presupposition of speaking. But even being able to hear is itself in turn based upon the possibility of the word and has need of it. Being able to talk and being able to hear are co-original. We are a conversation—and that means we are able to hear from one another. We are a conversation, that always also signifies we are one conversation. The unity of a conversation consists in the fact that in the essential word there is always manifest that one and the same on which we agree, on the basis of which we are united and so are authentically ourselves. Conversation and its unity support our existence.
But Hölderlin does not simply say "we are a conversation"—rather— "Since we have been a conversation...." Even where man's ability to speak is present and is put into practice, the essential event of language— conversation—does not necessarily occur. Since when have we been a conversation? If there is to be one conversation, the essential word must remain related to what is one and the same. Without this relation, even a quarrel is impossible. But the one and the same can be manifest only within the light of something that remains. However, permanence and endurance come to appearance only when persistence and presence light up. But this occurs in the moment in which time opens itself up in its dimensions.2 Since man has placed himself in the presence of something lasting, he can expose himself to the changeable, to what comes and goes; for only the persistent is changeable. Only since "torrential time" has been broken up into present, past, and future, has it become possible to agree upon something that remains over time. We have been one conversation since the time when there "is time." Ever since time arose and was brought to stand, since then we are historical. Both—to be one conversation and to be historical—are equally ancient, they belong together, and they are the same.
Since we have been a conversation—man has experienced much and named many of the gods. Since language has authentically come to pass as conversation, the gods have come to expression and a world has appeared. But again it is important to see that the presence of the gods and the appearance of the world are not merely a consequence of the occurrence