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Environment, Space, Place

Volume 8, Issue 2, Fall 2016

Stephen B. Hatton
Pages 123-139
DOI: 10.5840/esplace20168213

Elemental Earth: Heidegger, Trakl, and German Poets
“Something Strange is the Soul on Earth”

Philosopher Martin Heidegger and German poets who evoke nature offer excellent introductions to elemental earth. Those poets privilege earth among the elements using their earthy language. Heidegger views earth as the hidden ground of things. The article approaches elemental earth through Heidegger’s analysis of what he views as Georg Trakl’s crucial line of poetry about earth: “something strange is the soul on earth.” Heidegger stresses the soul as the stranger. In contrast, this article argues that on the basis of a contextual analysis of Trakl’s poetry and some other German poetry, it is the earth that is strange. Forgotten earth is the background out of which and the foundation upon which things manifest themselves. Elemental earth makes possible human experience of space and place.

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