Part One

Poetizing the Essence of the Rivers
The Ister Hymn

§1. The theme of the lecture course:
remarks on Hölderlin's hymnal poetry

This lecture course attempts to draw attention to several of Hölderlin's poetic works known as "hymns." The term hymn, in German Hymne, is formed from the Greek word ὕμνος, meaning song of praise. ode, more specifically a song in praise of the gods. to the glory of heroes. and in honor of those victorious in contests. ὑμνεῖν: to sing. to praise, to glorify, to celebrate and consecrate, and so to prepare the festival. Thus it is that we find a tum of phrase in which noun and verb, ὕμνος and ὑμνεῖν, are immediately united. The most beautiful example we know of are the words of Antigone, in Sophocles' tragedy, which begin at line 806:

ὁρᾶτ᾽ ἔμ᾽, ὦ γᾶς πατρίας πολῖται,

"Seht mich, ihr der väterlichen Erde Männer ...,"

"Behold me. you men of the paternal earth ...."

and which then close:

οὔτ᾽ ἐπινύμφειός πώ μέ τις ὕμνος ὕμνησεν,

"auch nicht als Bereitung des Festes feiert mich je ein Feiergesang."

"nor in preparation of the festival will ever a celebratory song celebrate me."

Initially, however, it must remain open in what sense and with what legitimacy the poetic works of Hölderlin to which we shall refer may be called "hymns." We must first become attentive to this poetry. Once we have become attentive. we can then "pay attention to." that is. retain. some things that, at favorable moments, will perhaps let us "attend to." that is. have some intimation of what might be said in the word of this poet.

Hölderlin’s Hymn “The Ister” (GA 53) by Martin Heidegger