Holderlin once again revised
Should the world listen more to the great Romantic poets? Michael Hoffman, in his Guardian review of the new 4th edition of Michael Hamburger's translation of Friedrich Holderlin's poetry seems to think so. At least the themes seem necessary today:
"youth, love, friendship, generation conflict, sibling relationships, world- and self-intoxication (to coin a couple of rather Germanic-sounding notions), a revitalised appreciation of the classics, idealist philosophy, revolution, spirituality and the death of religion, a volatile interest in the inner and outer world (all sorts of fads and "isms"), a proclivity for associations, amalgamations, movements, new magazines, publishing ventures and experiments in social living."
Holderlin has been a favorite of mine since the early 1980's, when I discovered one of Hamburger's previous editions of Poems and Fragments. As a college student, I was drawn, of course, to the tragic life of the poet; a sad youth, failed loves, mental illness, and finally 36 years of solitude spent writing in the tower of a supporter. While my friends read Rilke, I read Holderlin, only later finding Rilke for myself. Many years hence, following a divorce and a move to relative solitude in Maine, I stumbled across a first edition of Hamburger's translation, and began rereading. Poems and Fragments, alongside Pessoa's Book of Disquiet, became a clear stream I could dip into when necessary, and has remained so since.