with Gedächtnis [memory]. Our language says das Gedächtnis. But it also says die Erkenntnis [cognition], die Befügnis [authority], and again das Begräbnis [the funeral], das Geschehnis [the incident]. Kant, for example, in his linguistic usage sometimes says ‘die Erkenntnis’ and sometimes ‘das Erkenntnis,’ often right near each other.13 We may, therefore, without violence, translate Mnemosyne [with the German feminine] “die Gedächtnis,” “Lady Memory,” corresponding to the Greek feminine.
Hölderlin, you see, names the Greek word Mnemosyne as the name of a Titanness. She is the daughter of Heaven and Earth. Mnemosyne, as the bride of Zeus, becomes in nine nights the mother of the Muses. Game and Dance, Song and Poem belong to the womb of Mnemosyne, of die Gedächtnis [memory]. Evidently, this word names here something other than the capacity meant by psychology: the capacity to retain what is past [das Vergangene] in representation. Memory recollectively thinks what has been thought [Gedächtnis denkt an das Gedachte]. But the name of the mother of the Muses does not mean memory as a haphazard recalling of just anything that can be thought. Memory is here the gathering of thinking, which remains gathered to that which has already previously been thought because the latter above all constantly would love to be considered. Memory is the gathering of recollection about what above all else is to be considered. This gathering shelters with itself and conceals in itself that which in advance remains to be thought, remaining with everything that essences and is addressed as essencing [Wesendes] and as having-been [Gewesenes]. Memory, the gathered recollective thinking of what is to be thought, is the wellspring of poetry. Accordingly, the essence of poetry rests in thinking. The myth, i.e., the legend [die Sage] tells us this. Its saying calls forth [heißt] what is eldest, not only insofar as it is earliest according to time-reckoning but because it remains, according to its essence, once before and someday [voreinst und dereinst], what is most worthy of thought. Of course, as long as we represent thinking according to the details about it that logic provides us; as long as we do not take seriously that all logic has already attached itself to a particular manner of thinking – so long will we be unable to realize that and to what extent poetry rests in recollection.
13 [Gray does not include these last two sentences in his translation.]