April 26, 2010

The fundamental naming of the gods

While readng something else, I read about Hölderlin calling the writing of poetry as a "fundamental naming of the gods." Intrigued, I had to look up the quote.
"The writing of poetry is the fundamental naming of the gods. But the poetic word only acquires its power of naming, when the gods themselves bring us to language." - Hölderlin
One more excerpt from what Holderlin wrote:
"And therefore has language, most dangerous of possessions, been given to man, so that creating, destroying, and perishing and returning to the everliving, to the mistress and mother, he may affirm what he is--that he has inherited, learned from thee, thy most divine possession, all-preserving love."
Interestingly, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger delivered a seminar lecture in 1936 titled "Hölderlin and the Essence of Poetry." (Published in Existence and Being, 270–291, 1949) in which he writes:
"Poetry is the inaugural naming of being and of the essence of all things - not just any speech...but that particular kind which for the first time brings into the open all that we then discuss and deal with in everyday language. Hence poetry never takes language as a raw material ready to hand, rather it is poetry which first makes language possible. Poetry is the primitive language of a historical people."
Lovely excerpt!

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