The Hölderliniae (Paperback)
The great German Romantic poet Friedrich Hölderlin’s spirit infuses this gorgeous cycle of poems that sing of the loves and devastations of our times
Each hymn in Nathaniel Tarn’s new collection The Hölderliniae is a love song to the Poet of Poets, Friedrich Hölderlin?— the German Romantic poet-philosopher who spent the last thirty-six years of his life sequestered in a carpenter’s tower in the south of Germany. Tarn speaks through Hölderlin and Hölderlin speaks through Tarn in an act of spiritual and lyric possession unlike anything else in contemporary poetry. The French Revolution—which Hölderlin supported passionately until the Reign of Terror—illuminates our war-torn, ecologically precarious age, as the failures of our age recall past tragedies. Line after line carries Hölderlin’s hope in an ideal of a poetry that can englobe all the mind’s disciplines and make a universe of its own.
About the Author
The American poet Nathaniel Tarn was born in Paris in 1928 and emigrated to the US in 1970, where he has lived ever since, mostly in the New Mexican desert. A leading anthropologist for many years and a pioneering translator of Pablo Neruda and Victor Segalen, Tarn, “one of the most outstanding poets of his generation” (Kenneth Rexroth), has published more than thirty books of poetry, essays, and translations—including most recently, The Beautiful Contradictions and Ins and Outs of the Forest Rivers, both available from New Directions.
The Hölderliniae is a self-conscious commune with the great poets’ poet, with his life and work. Through an intermingling of storytelling and exegesis, Tarn, mixing Hölderlin’s verse with his own, sketches out a schema wherein the reader can learn to 'recognize the long known meeting place between yourself and the attempted tasks that must be done.'
Tarn’s poetry redefines nature and art for human culture, bringing a genuine psychological and linguistic curiosity about the human mind, about what it means to be human.
— Brenda Hillman - Jacket
Tarn’s lyric voice is a special one in today’s poetry: his ‘I’ is not the more familiar first-person confessional nor is it stylized and aloof; but it is a voice able to speak on the poet’s own ground or through other personae, as few in English have done so well since Yeats and Pound.
— Ken Bullock - The Berkeley Daily Planet
Tarn’s books have inspired a wild, almost religious devotion among readers. His work is a tremendous force field in which world and perception collaborate in the construction of innovative formal ‘architextures’ for a sensual language that has no like. Tarn is one of the most elegant and formidably intelligent minds in contemporary poetry. His books open up one means for us to be delighted again to belong to this world.
— Forrest Gander
Through this hybrid epic, which incorporates Tarn’s own translations of Hölderlin’s poems, the poet invites readers to find ecstasy in the loneliness of the human condition and to reexamine our thinking about language, mortality, space, and time.
— Rebecca Ruth Gould - Poetry Foundation
Catastrophe, exile, a deliberate going against: these concepts all contribute to our understanding of Tarn’s late style, tense, dissociative, darkly brooding, abruptly furious, suddenly elevated to a point of dizzying sublimity.
— Norman Finkelstein - Poetry in Review
It is extraordinary, the passion that is the music of these pages.
— Joseph Donahue - Hyperallergic