At the End of a Still Day

At the End of a Still Day in the Hut
Martin Heidegger
September 12th, 1931

Rare days, that want to become a blessing for us.

And how often do we fail to hear their step, quieter than a deer on the moss of the forest floor.

Mostly we catch only what is useful and its varieties, for we are not ready or willing to see the simple.

Though all things bear their secret, the inner greatness of man is the deepest; because it is given to him to become struck by suffering, in order to transform it into the power of his soul.

Humans wander paths full of striving that lead out from each other. But each of us finds, if only we hold true to ourselves, our way back into that ambit of the heart that ought to remain our innermost protection.

That man is permitted to win the sure ripeness and beauty of his essence makes him potent to transform the other invisibly into the truth of their own essence. Where such a transformation happens, there awakens that genuine solitude from out of which man truly encounters the other, so that henceforth his heart acts in the clear presence of the other.

Only what we receive as a blessing—and not as an benefit obtained falsely—overcomes what is small, partial, and greedy in our aspirations.

Rare days of blessing—their image is similar to that of many others, but their hidden power is that rareness that we safeguard only when we are strong enough for thankfulness and big enough to revere the truly great.

(trans. Timothy Lavenz, 2015)

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4 Responses to At the End of a Still Day

  1. just wondering what is the bibliographical reference for the source text?
    and are you sure that “the clear present of the other” is correct? or is it perhaps a typographical error? otherwise a very nice little text. thanks for sharing!

    • tmlavenz says:

      The German reads, “so daß fortan sein Herz in der klaren Gegenwart des andern handelt” (GA 1 Band 16, p. 67).

      Truthfully, I’m no expert translator and my German is intermediate at best. Gegenwart is the common word for “present,” but also can mean “presence.” I shied away from the latter, though I agree it is much clearer that way. The trouble is trying to avoid the incorrect connotation of presence as vorhanden.

      As far as understanding the passage, it’s not immediately intuitive in either language what he means. It reminds me of a line from Being and Time, where he speaks of, “…a kind of solicitude which does not so much leap in for the other as *leap ahead* of him… it helps the other become transparent to himself *in* his care and to become free for it…” Perhaps helping the other to become free for their own care (i.e., free for the clarity of the present of their decision (Augenblick)) is the kind of action rooted in solitude envisioned by Heidegger in this early work.

      I will consider switching the translation. Thanks for your feedback. The text comes from GA 1 Band 16, which collects documents ranging from 1910-1976 and is titled ‘Speeches and Other Testimonies of a Life’s Way’ [Reden und andere Zeugnisse eines Lebensweges].

      • Hmmm… definitely tricky. Upon reading numerous times since, i’ve come to like “present” , unless someone who really knows their German (i don’t) suggest otherwise, i would simply suggest a footnote explaining your choice as you so kindly have in your reply. It’s a very lovely passage. thanks again for posting it, and taking the time to reply.

  2. Charles Henze says:

    Who has not speculated as to what Heidegger experienced in the hut? It is remarkable that after so much of the GA has been translated and published that new gems are revealed. Thank you for this post Pete.

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