In one of the most moving poems of his later years, Reif sind, in Feuer getaucht..., Hölderlin draws, as it were, the sum of his 114existence. It is a poem of maturity: maturity achieved, not through steady and harmonious growth, but in purgatorial fires. Hölderlin tells how the consciousness of many, of too many things winds itself snake-like into his mind, and speaks, in rhythms that jerk themselves forward as with strained exertion, of heavy burdens carried over difficult roads in times that seemed unpropitious: Und vieles Wie auf den Schultern eine Last von Scheitern ist Zu behalten. Aber bös sind Die Pfade. Nämlich unrecht, Wie Rosse, gehn die gefangenen Element’ und alten Gesetze der Erd.