the relation of word to thing, more precisely: the mysteriousness of that relation, which reveals itself as mystery at just that point where the poet wants to name a prize which he holds plainly in his hand. The poet does not say what sort of prize it is. We may recall that "prize" means a small and graceful gift intended for one's guest; or perhaps a present in token of special favor, which the recipient will henceforth carry on his person. "Prize," then, has to do with favor and with guest. Let us note also that that other poem, "Sea Song," together with "The Word," belongs under the heading "The Song'' of the volume's last section. "Sea Song" begins:
When on the verge with gentle fall Down dips the fire-reddened ball: Then on the dunes I pause to rest That I may see a cherished guest.
The last line names the guest, yet does not name him. Like the guest, the prize remains nameless. And nameless remains also that highest favor which comes to the poet. The last poem in this last section has its say about the favor, sings it, but still does not name it.
Prize, favor, guest, it says—but they are not named. Are they then kept secret? No. We can keep secret only what we know. The poet does not keep the names a secret. He does not know them. He admits it himself in that one verse which rings like a basso ostinato through all the songs:
Wherein you hang—you do not know.
The experience of this poet with the word passes into darkness, and even remains veiled itself. We must leave it so; but merely by thinking about the poetic experience in this way, we leave it in the neighborhood of thinking. However, we may not suppose that a thinking experience with language, rather than the poetic experience, will lead us to the light more quickly, and perhaps could lift the veil. What thinking can do here depends on whether and in what way it hears the granting saying in which the being of language speaks as the language