Much, from the morning onwards, Since we ha"e been a discount and have heard from one another, Has human kind learnt; but soon we shall be song.*
Those who "have heard from one another"—the ones and the others—are men and gods. The song celebrates the advent of the gods—and in that advent everything falls silent. Song is not the opposite of a discourse, but rather the most intimate kinship with it: for song, too, is language. In the preceding seventh stanza, Hölderlin says:
This is a law of fate, that each shall know all others, That when the silence returns there shall be a language too.
In 1910, Norbert von Hellingrath, who was killed in action before Verdun in 1916, first published Hölderlin's Pindar translations from the manuscripts. In 1914, there followed the first publication of Hölderlin's late hymns. These two books hit us students like an earthquake. Stefan George, who had first directed Hellingrath's attention to Hölderlin, now in turn received decisive inspiration from those first editions, as did Rilke. Since that time, George's poetry comes closer and closer to song. Nietzsche's words in the third part of Thus Spoke Zarathustra , at the end of "The Great Longing," are even then ringing in the poet's ear:
O my soul, now I have given you all, and even the last I had, and I have emptied all my hands to you: that I bade you sing, behold, that was the last I had.
The final section of George's Das Neue Reich, below the section title "The Song," begins with this motto:
What I still ponder, and what I still frame, What I still love—their features are the same.
The poet has stepped outside of his former "circle," yet without renouncing the word: for he sings, and song remains discourse. The poet's renunciation does not touch the word, but rather
* Translation by Michael Hamburger, from Friedrich Hölderlin: Poems and Fragments (Ann Arbor, 1966), p. 439. (Tr.)