Friday, February 11, 2011
SfGate asks: who are the ten greatest poets?
This morning, as I was watching coverage of the celebrations in the streets of Cairo, I began thinking about the connection between literature and revolution, poetry and civic engagement. At times of social crisis and political milestones, historians and commentators often turn to writers (especially poets) to help encapsulate the emotional tenor of the event. Great moments need great language.

In was Martin Heidegger who said "In the time of the world's night, the poet utters the holy." Indeed. But, who are those writers we tend to gravitate toward? Who embodies "greatness?"
On the occasion of a holy night in Egypt.
To be a poet in destitute times means: to attend, singing, to the trace of the fugitive gods. This is why the poet in the time of the world's night utters the holy. This is why, in Hölderlin's language, the world's night is holy night.

P. 92
I realize that MH would snicker at my suggestion of adding Emerson (not just what he put in verse form, to be sure, but his complete opus) to the likes of Trakl, Holderlin, George and his other favorites.

I am currently reading selected material from RWE's later notebooks. Most of it is drivel, gossip, written for his own self-education. But it has some zingers, too. It does not even begin to compare with MH, except that it was written pre-Nietzsche.
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