(»Pallaksch. Pallaksch.«)

What makes a poet fall silent? Too high ideals and disappointed hopes? Existing power relations and lack of freedom? What makes a poet rebel and become creative, what ultimately silences him? A lost love, a prison cell or the oppression by a performance-oriented society that forces one into a tedious bread-and-butter job? The alienation from (one’s essential) nature? It is a fine line on which artists balance. Today as in Hölderlin’s time. Pain gives birth to something new, but it can also kill. To be struck by Apollo* (von „Apollo geschlagen“) can mean a great, ecstatic inspiration, but also a spiritual visitation. The direct path to madness? How can an artist, a human being, endure the inner and outer tensions without being torn apart? When does one start to become another in order to protect oneself? Is it worth it to be oneself – without any compromise and with all the consequences? The artist identity is fragile „und wozu Dichter in dürftiger Zeit.“

*Apollo(n): the roman/greek god of poetry and divination


The works and thoughts of Friedrich Hölderlin (20 March 1770 – 7 June 1843). Hölderlin was a German poet and philosopher. The poetry of Hölderlin, widely recognized today as one of the highest points of German literature, was little known or understood during his lifetime, and slipped into obscurity shortly after his death. Hölderlin had high hopes, but was disappointed by society and politics, struggled to establish himself as a poet, and also lost the love of his life Susette Gontard. He was plagued by mental illness, and sent to a clinic in 1805 but deemed incurable and instead given lodging by a carpenter, Ernst Zimmer. He spent the final 36 years of his life in Zimmer’s residence in Tübingen what is today known as the “Hölderlin Tower”. Hölderlin’s major publication in his lifetime was his novel Hyperion, which was issued in two volumes (1797 and 1799). In the great poems of his maturity, Hölderlin would generally adopt a large-scale, expansive and unrhymed style. Together with these long hymns, odes and elegies – which included “Der Archipelagus” (“The Archipelago”), “Brod und Wein” (“Bread and Wine”) and “Patmos” – he also cultivated a crisper, more concise manner in epigrams and couplets, and in short poems like the famous “Hälfte des Lebens” (“The Middle of Life”). His shorter and sometimes more fragmentary poems have exerted wide influence too on later German poets, from Georg Trakl onwards. He also had an influence on the poetry of Hermann Hesse and Paul Celan. Celan wrote a poem about Hölderlin, called “Tübingen, Jänner” (“Tübingen, January”) which ends with the word Pallaksch — according to Schwab, Hölderlin’s favourite neologism “which sometimes meant Yes, sometimes No”.

Europe: The European Union, the European Culture and the European Thought.

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