Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Homecoming” is a profound meditation upon the nature, or essence, of home. The blessings of home are brightness, friendliness, the experience of belonging, a sense of rightness, and ultimately a communion with the divinity who confers the blessings.

Martin Heidegger has provided a cogent essay on the meanings inherent in “Homecoming”; it was published as “Heimkunft / An die Verwandten” in Erläuterungen zu Hölderlins Dichtung (1944; a translation of the essay as “Remembrance of the Poet,” along with its foreword, “Prefatory Remark to a Repetition of the Address,” appears in the collection Existence and Being, 1949): “The innermost essence of home is already the destiny of a Providence, or as we call it: History. Nevertheless, in the dispensation of Providence, the essence is not yet completely handed over.” It is reserved, given to be discovered but kept back from all. Heidegger identifies the reserved as that which introduces care (Sorge) into joyousness. He observes that the poem ends with a recognition that the poet must dispel care by caring rightly, not as he may wish or choose to care. He emphasizes the fact that the last word of the poem is a “blunt not”’ (nicht).

Following Heidegger’s lead, one could add that nicht is an element of the Sorge theme as it develops from the expression of joyousness. Nicht is absent from the first two stanzas;...

(The entire section is 419 words.)