with the word nor the thinking experience with Saying gives voice to language in its essential being.
Such is the situation, and this despite the fact that since the early days of Western thinking, and up into the late period of Stefan George's poetic work, thinking has thought deep thoughts about language, and poetry has made stirring things into language. But we can only conjecture why it is that, nonetheless, the being of language nowhere brings itself to word as the language of being. There is some evidence that the essential nature of language flatly refuses to express itself in words—in the language, that is, in which we make statements about language. If language everywhere withholds its nature in this sense, then such withholding is in the very nature of language. The language not only holds back when we speak it in the accustomed ways, but this its holding back is determined by the fact that language holds back its own origin and so denies its being to our usual notions. But then we may no longer say that the being of language is the language of being, unless the word "language" in the second phrase says something different, in fact something in which the withholding of the being of language—speaks. Accordingly, the being of language puts itself into language nonetheless, in its own most appropriate manner. We may avoid the issue no longer; rather, we must keep on conjecturing what the reason may be why the peculiar speech of language's being passes unnoticed all too easily. Presumably part of the reason is that the two kinds of utterance par excellence, poetry and thinking, have not been sought out in their proper habitat, their neighborhood. Yet we talk often enough about "poets and thinkers."* By now, this phrase has become a vacuous cliché. Perhaps the "and" in "poetry and thinking" will receive its full meaning and definition if we will let it enter our minds that this "and" might signify the neighborhood of poetry and thought.
We will, of course, immediately demand an explanation of
* This characterization of the Germans as "the people of poets and thinkers," familiar to every German schoolboy, is of uncertain origin, though it is found in German literature as early as 1808. (Tr.)