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  #11  
Unread 09-22-2019, 06:30 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Merry equinox to you too, Julie.

So that's a thought. If all the scenes are of summer and are in the distance, we might think the time of S1 was at least autumn, summer being behind us. We'd still have winter to come, but after that spring. Mind you, you're in California. Holderlin was in Germany, where the grape harvest is an autumn thing (unless you're making Eiswein, then you wait till after the first frost to harvest). Though I guess "the time of vines" is ambiguous, since it doesn't say the time of grapes and the vines are alive over more than one season.

I guess the fields could be empty of people (pre-harvest) or because the people's dwelling lives have all passed into distance. I'd think a field that didn't contain crops or animals could also be called empty. A field of grass would be empty, for me, I think. A deciduous forest would arguably be darker while the trees still had leaves, I guess, so not in winter.

When you say you're tending to think of them as "people's earth-dwelling lives", does that mean your tending to a heaven/after-life reading?

I'm wondering if it could be a return-to-nature theme. I'm wondering about 'settled' for 'dwelling'. I guess one could make a case for the abandonment of settlements and agriculture (the time of vines are in the distance, the fields are empty, the forest makes a comeback). I also wonder, and perhaps John can help as his German's better, if the last two lines of S1 aren't in the distance. It seems to depend on whether "there also" relates to the 'when' of L1, or the 'where' of L2: It could (I think) be read as: when the settled lives and grape harvest are in the distant past, then (when this happens) there are also are empty fields and the forest appears/returns. Nature lingers when the times glide swiftly by. The people, back to some natural state, are joyous under the sky. So, hmm again.

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-22-2019 at 07:33 PM.
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  #12  
Unread 09-22-2019, 08:01 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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H's theology sounds more than a bit unorthodox, if he truly believed in a sort of Greco-Roman concept of gods' presence on the earth in a Golden Age, followed by their withdrawing to another realm.

Do you think he had any sort of Christian-influenced concept of eternity outside of the limitations of linear time? I ask because I was thinking that maybe all these things passing away into the distance as time goes by are passing into that eternal realm, and souls that have also passed into that eternal realm have access to all of time, in a non-linear way. So although human life might be compared to one year, which passes into the distance without returning to the spring of youth, in that eternal realm souls can experience springtime (literal and metaphorical) again, as in S2.

There's not a lot of evidence in the poem to support this view. I'm just throwing it out there in case it's useful.
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  #13  
Unread 09-22-2019, 08:37 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi folks,

So, two little German notes. "in die Ferne" is, as you've rendered it, Matt, "into the distance," not "in the distance" - it's in the accusative case, motion toward. Which may give you an opinion on S1's location and landscape. Also, "Himmel" does indeed mean both Heaven and sky, as in say French, and Hoelderlin was famous for being obsessed with Greece. There's a poignant story about a mad Hoelderlin being found looking up at a Greek statue, though I forget what he said when run into. I read that years ago. I do think there's room for Judaeo-Christian flavoring making it into his thought, but maybe my old German professor would tisk if i told him that.

Cheers,
John
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  #14  
Unread 09-23-2019, 03:34 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Julie,

I don't think that Holderlin literally believed that the Greek gods were present and then disappeared. I think it was more to do with something like a change of consciousness. I'll need to read more. The gods were real for the ancient Greeks because of how they saw the world. We see the world differently and so have lost direct access to the divine. But I'll need to read more. As to his theology, how he saw God and how he blended Greek and Christian theology and romantic idealism, I'd need to read more, but I reckon (based on not enough research) there's some sort of timeless Being (in the metaphysical sense) involved. I think I maybe should have started my translation attempts with with a poet who didn't have have such a philosophical/theological/metaphysical bent ...

John,

Thanks for pointing out that 'in' should be 'into'. I guess I can just substitute "into" for "in the", but "Where into distance the time of vines then glimmers" seems oddly inverted with verb at the end. It might need to be something like, "Where into distance gleams the time of vines then glimmers", I think, but even that sounds odd. Probably I need "Where the time of vines gleams into distance" (annoyingly headless), which the requires changing S1L1 too so both lines don't end with 'distance'. I'll see what I can do. As per the crib, I'd known Himmel could be both 'sky' and 'heaven', which offers me a choice of a more, or less, Christian version.

thanks again both,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-23-2019 at 04:05 AM.
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  #15  
Unread 09-23-2019, 03:59 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Matt,

You might be interested in the book by Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. In Wikipedia's terms, he here "made the case that a bicameral mentality was the normal and ubiquitous state of the human mind as recently as 3,000 years ago" - in other words, that people in the time of Homer or say Abraham found it quite natural to see gods or angels as we see neighbors and strangers. Interesting book and thesis.

Cheers,
John
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  #16  
Unread 09-23-2019, 05:01 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Thanks John, that looks interesting, though I may content myself with the Wikipedia summary for now. But yes, that sort of thing over a literal disappearing of the gods.

Just to come back to this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Isbell View Post
"in die Ferne" is ... "into the distance," not "in the distance" Which may give you an opinion on S1's location and landscape.
Yes it seems to help, now I can read:

At the time when people's dwelling lives pass into the distance
There, where the time of vines shines into that distance
At that time and place are also the summer's empty fields.
And the winter appears with its dark picture.

I'd been wrongly reading 'gleams in the distance' as the time of vines already being in the distance. Then when you said 'into' I'd read it as a variant of 'passes into the distance' (it moves glimmering into the distance), but actually, it seems to make a lot more sense that the time of vines is here and now (the 'when and where' of the passing/gleamin), but it shines (its light) into the distance into which the people have passed. Now I just need to figure out how to rewrite with rhyme and metre ...

Thanks again,

Matt
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  #17  
Unread 09-23-2019, 05:33 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Matt,

I'm glad the accusative case has got you thinking! I like what you've done with the German here. As you say, now come rhyme and meter.
The Jaynes is actually a real page-turner, or was for me. It's on my religion shelves somewhere. :-)

Cheers,
John
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