The Thinker As Poet

(Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens)

Way and weighing
Stile and saying
On a single walk are found.

Go bear without halt
Question and default
On your single pathway bound.

When the early morning light quietly
grows above the mountains. . . .

The world’s darkening never reaches
to the light of Being.

We are too late for the gods and too
early for Being. Being’s poem,
just begun, is man.

To head toward a star—this only.

To think is to confine yourself to a
single thought that one day stands
still like a star in the world’s sky.

When the little windwheel outside
the cabin window sings in the
gathering thunderstorm….

When thought’s courage stems from
the bidding of Being, then
destiny’s language thrives.

As soon as we have the thing before
our eyes, and in our hearts an ear
for the word, thinking prospers.

Few are experienced enough in the
difference between an object of
scholarship and a matter thought.

If in thinking there were already
adversaries and not mere
opponents, then thinking’s case
would be more auspicious.

When through a rent in the rain-clouded
sky a ray of the sun suddenly glides
over the gloom of the meadows. . . .

We never come to thoughts. They come
to us.

That is the proper hour of discourse.

Discourse cheers us to companionable
reflection. Such reflection neither
parades polemical opinions nor does it
tolerate complaisant agreement. The sail
of thinking keeps trimmed hard to the
wind of the matter.

From such companionship a few perhaps
may rise to be journeymen in the
craft of thinking. So that one of them,
unforeseen, may become a master.

When in early summer lonely narcissi
bloom hidden in the meadow and the
rock-rose gleams under the maple….

The splendor of the simple.

Only image formed keeps the vision.
Yet image formed rests in the poem.

How could cheerfulness stream
through us if we wanted to shun
sadness?

Pain gives of its healing power
where we least expect it.

When the wind, shifting quickly, grumbles
in the rafters of the cabin, and the
weather threatens to become nasty. . . .

Three dangers threaten thinking.

The good and thus wholesome
danger is the nighness of the singing
poet.

The evil and thus keenest danger is
thinking itself. It must think
against itself, which it can only
seldom do.

The bad and thus muddled danger
is philosophizing.

When on a summer’s day the butterfly
settles on the flower and* wings
closed, sways with it in the
meadow-breeze….

All our heart’s courage is the
echoing response to the
first call of Being which
gathers our thinking into the
play of the world.

In thinking all things
become solitary and slow.

Patience nurtures magnanimity.

He who thinks greatly must
err greatly.

When the mountain brook in night’s
stillness tells of its plunging
over the boulders. . . .

The oldest of the old follows behind
us in our thinking and yet it
comes to meet us.

That is why thinking holds to the
coming of what has been, and
is remembrance.

To be old means: to stop in time at
that place where the unique
thought of a thought train has
swung into its joint.

We may venture the step back out
of philosophy into the thinking of
Being as soon as we have grown
familiar with the provenance of
thinking.

When in the winter nights snowstorms
tear at the cabin and one morning the
landscape is hushed in its blanket of
snow….

Thinking’s saying would be stilled in
its being only by becoming unable
to say that which must remain
unspoken.

Such inability would bring thinking
face to face with its matter.

What is spoken is never, and in no
language, what is said.

That a thinking is, ever and suddenly—
whose amazement could fathom it?

When the cowbells keep tinkling from
the slopes of the mountain valley
where the herds wander slowly. . . .

The poetic character of thinking is
still veiled over.

Where it shows itself, it is for a
long time like the utopism of
a half-poetic intellect.

But poetry that thinks is in truth
the topology of Being.

This topology tells Being the
whereabouts of its actual
presence.

When the evening light, slanting into
the woods somewhere, bathes the tree
trunks in gold. . . .

Singing and thinking are the stems
neighbor to poetry.

They grow out of Being and reach into
its truth.

Their relationship makes us think of what
Holderlin sings of the trees of the
woods:

“And to each other they remain unknown,
So long as they stand, the neighboring
trunks.”

Forests spread
Brooks plunge
Rocks persist
Mist diffuses
Meadows wait
Springs well
Winds dwell
Blessing muses

– Heidegger (Poetry, Language & Thought)

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