Ex Tempore
pen club
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Nihil est in intellectu, quod non fuerit prius in sensu
Home / Poetry R. M. Rilke / Poetry / hoelderlin



Doch uns ist gegeben,
auf keiner Stätte zu ruhn;
es schwinden, es fallen
die leidenden Menschen
blindlings von einer
Stunden zur anderen,
wie Wasser von Klippe
zu Klipe geworfen,
jahrlang ins Ungewisse hinab.

Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843) the lyric poet of Tübingen did not have a settled or happy life. Love and recognition eluded him. His fame grew after his death.

His timeless observation of mankind's degringolade was put to music by Johannes Brahms in his Song of Fate, Schicksalslied, opus 54.

Yet our fate is not
to find a place to rest,
for mankind wanes distraught
and tumbles in its quest,
is dashed and blindly thrown
from hour to hour, from stone
to stone as waters falling
cliff to cliff --falling
down to the unknown

But, what is this Unknown? Perhaps it is discovery, conversion, rebirth.

On the road to Damascus Saul of Tarsus fell, blinded by a divine flash. He rose as Paul, was baptized in Damascus. He put behind him the persecution of the early Christians, the lapidation of the apostle Steven, and became the ambassador of the new faith. (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 7 (58) and chapter 9)

The Unknown can be the rise after the fall. Christ, the God, fell, died on the cross, descended into the unknown. And was resuscitated. The Cross became the symbol not only of death, but also of new life, of continuity in identity and purpose, of perseverance in the paradox of disunity and unity, in the adventure of the cycles of life.

Allegories bring us nearer to the mysteryof existence.

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