Friedrich Hölderlin's biography, his figurative life, may be better known than his poems. He is syntactically difficult sometimes too, and moves in his poetic thinking through unapparent connections. Then the sheer length of many of his best poems is off-putting, which is why the Diotima poems written in Frankfurt and Homburg are a good place to begin. The purity of his poetry and the urgency of his demands, if they do not wholly engage one, may actually be wearisome or repellent. His critique of wrong living is exact and ungainsayable. His political hopes and disappointment look more and more representative. He was a deeply religious poet, whose fundamental tenet is nevertheless absence and the threat of meaninglessness. He had a Romantic hope that the mind and the poetic imagination might make meaning; and the Romantic dread of solipsism. His poetics are a theory of perpetual onward movement, and his poems realize it.
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