Last modified on 16 April 2014, at 22:49

Friedrich Hölderlin

It was not delight, not wonder that arose among us, it was the peace of heaven.

Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin (20 March 17706 June 1843) was a major German lyric poet, whose work bridges the Classical and Romantic schools.


  • Being at one is god-like and good, but human, too human, the mania
    Which insists there is only the One, one country, one truth, and one way.
    • "The Root of All Evil" as translated by Michael Hamburger
  • You seek life, and a godly fire
    Gushes and gleams for you out of the earth,
    As, with shuddering long, you
    Hurl yourself down to the flames of the Etna.

    So by a queen's wanton whim
    Pearls were dissolved in wine- heed her not!
    What folly, poet, to cast your riches
    Into that bright and bubbling cup!

    Yet still are you holy to me, as the might of the earth
    That bore you away, audaciously perishing!
    And I would follow the hero into the depths
    Did love not hold me.

    • "Empedokles"
  • The earth with yellow pears
    And overgrown with roses wild
    Upon the pond is bent,
    And swans divine,
    With kisses drunk
    You drop your heads
    In the sublimely sobering water.
    But where, with winter come, am I
    To find, alas, the floweres, and where
    The sunshine
    And the shadow of the world?
    Cold the walls stand
    And the wordless, in the wind
    The weathercocks are rattling.
    • "Halves of Life"
  • Wer das Tiefste gedacht, liebt das Lebendigste.
    • He who has thought most deeply loves what is most alive.
      • “Sokrates und Alcibiades”


As translated by Michael Hamburger
  • We were eager to have done and trusted to luck.
  • Now we were standing close to the summit's rim, gazing out into the endless East.
  • What is all that men have done and thought over thousands of years, compared with one moment of love. But in all Nature, too, it is what is nearest to perfection, what is most divinely beautiful! There all stairs lead from the threshold of life. From there we come, to there we go.
  • What is the wisdom of a book compared with the wisdom of an angel?
  • I call on Fate to give me back my soul.
  • It was not delight, not wonder that arose among us, it was the peace of heaven.
    A thousand times have I said it to her and to myself: the most beautiful is also the most sacred. And such was everything in her. Like her singing, even so was her life.
  • Before either of us knew it, we belonged to each other.

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