149
WORDS

The rhythm of this song is as marvelous as it is dear. It is enough to suggest it with a Wort remark. Rhythm, rhusmos, does not mean flux and flowing, but rather form. Rhythm is what is at rest, what forms the movement of dance and song, and thus lets it rest within itself. Rhythm bestows rest. In the song we just heard, the structure shows itself if we pay heed to the one fugue which sings to us, in three forms, in the three stanzas: secure soul and sudden sight, stem and storm, sea and shell.

But the strange thing about this song is a mark which the poet sets down, the only mark besides the final period. Even stranger is the place where he has put the mark-the colon at the end of the last line of the middle stanza. This mark, in this place, is all the more astonishing because both stanzas, the middle and the last one, begin alike with an as that refers back to the first stanza:


As when on the heights
The solid stem


and:


As when the sea
With shrill scream


Both stanzas appear to be arranged in the same way with regard to their sequence. But they are not. The colon at the end of the middle stanza makes the next and final stanza refer back explicitly to the first stanza, by including the second stanza with the first in its reference. The first stanza speaks of the poet disturbed in his security. But yet the "undreamed terror" does not destroy him. But it does bend him to the ground as the storm bends the tree, so that he may become open for that of which the third stanza sings after the opening colon. Once again the sea thrusts its unfathomable voice into the poet's ears which are called the .. long-abandoned shell"; for until now the poet remained without the purely bestowed prevalence of the word. Instead, the names required by the norn nourished the self-assurance of his masterful proclamation.


Martin Heidegger (GA 12) On the Way to Language