In the euphonious movement of its prose, in the sublimity and beauty of the figures that appear in it, Hyperion makes an impression upon me similar to the beat of the waves of the troubled sea. Indeed, this prose is music, soft melting sounds interrupted by painful dissonances, finally expiring in dark, uncanny dirges. —Friedrich Nietzsche
The greatest lyric poets, for instance Hölderlin or Keats, are men in whom the mythic power of insight breaks forth again in its full intensity and objectifying power... —Ernst Cassirer, Language and Myth, 1946
But if there were words in which to grasp the relation between myth and the inner life from which the later poem sprang it would be those of Hölderlin. 'Myths, which take leave of the earth, / ... They return to mankind.' —Walter Benjamin
The German poet Friedrich Hölderlin unquestionably belongs in the intense company of Shelley, Kleist, Novalis, Lenz, and Büchner…. [Hölderlin] is one of the great writers’ lives, full of intensity and movement, work and projects, abrupt departures and friendships ….it was reading Hölderlin that gave Rilke the impetus for his Duino Elegies. —Michael Hofmann
About the Author
Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843) is widely regarded as one of the greatest German lyric poets. In addition to his poetry and Hyperion, his only novel, he began work on a tragedy, The Death of Empedocles, which he never completed. The creative period of his life was cut short by a mental breakdown that confined him to a tower in Tu?bingen from 1807 until his death in 1843. His work had a profound influence on Hegel, Nietzsche, Rilke, Heidegger, and Celan. Ross Benjamin is a freelance writer and translator living in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Bookforum, The Nation, The New York Times, and other publications. His translation of Kevin Vennemann’s Nahe Jedenew (Close to Jedenew) is forthcoming.