“The Barbarians are still around us …” 221 years on!

The poet Holderlin wrote in 1799

You will find that now the more human organizations, spirits, which appeared to have most definitively formed nature to humanity, are now everywhere unhappier, precisely because they exist more rarely than in other times and places. The barbarians around us tear apart our best powers, before they can be cultivated and only the firm, deep insight into this fate can save us, and prevent us at least from perishing in an unworthy manner. We have to seek what is excellent, and hold to it as well as we can, to strengthen and heal ourselves in the feeling of it and thereby to gain the strength to recognize what is raw, skewed and misshapen not only in pain but as that which it is, in its character and specific lack. (Holderlin in a letter to his half-brother Karl Gok 4 June 1799.)

Hölderlin’s poems, however, display those little shards of light which remind us of who we are and what we might become.

More should listen to him in 2020.

Holderlin Tower in Tubingen – Ann ap lived for a couple of years a few houses down to the right out of picture (in an apartment)


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