Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Essence of Poetry (Part 1)

“Language has the task of making manifest in its work the existent, and of preserving it as such. In it, what is purest and what is most concealed, and likewise what is complex and ordinary, can be expressed in words. Even the essential word, if it is to be understood and so become a possession in common, must make itself ordinary.”

“Language serves to give information. As a fit instrument for this, it is a ‘possession.’ But the essence of language does not consist entirely in being a means of giving information. This definition does not touch its essential essence, but merely indicates an effect of its essence. Language is not a mere tool, one of the many which man possesses; on the contrary, it is only language that affords the very possibility of standing in the openness of the existent. Only where there is language, is there world . . .”

“Poetry is the act of establishing by the word and in the word. What is established in this manner? The permanent . . . That which supports and dominates the existent in its entirety must become manifest. Being must be opened out, so that the existent may appear. But this very permanent is the transitory.”

“The poet names the gods and names all things in that which they are. This naming does not consist merely in something already known being supplied with a name; it is rather that when the poet speaks the essential word, the existent is by this naming nominated as what it is. So it becomes known as existent. Poetry is the establishing of being by means of the word.”

“Existence is ‘poetical’ in its fundamental aspect – which means at the same time: in so far as it is established (founded), it is not a recompense, but a gift.”

“the essence of poetry must be understood through the essence of language . . . the essence of language must be understood through the essence of poetry.”

(Martin Heidegger, “Hölderlin and the Essence of Poetry”)

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