Movement and embodiment in Klopstock and Goethe

03 Aug 2017

Poetry is both physical and mobile: it moves us, and moves in us. This essay focuses on the role of the moving body in the work of Klopstock, with a brief excursus into Goethe's poetry. Klopstock conceived of poetry as a kind of dance, and his innovations in prosody consisted of an intensification of the physical dimension of poetry. He consistently challenged the assumption underlying dualistic philosophies: namely, that the physical and the metaphysical, the tangible and the intangible, are ultimately separate. In his work, it is precisely the substance and weight of language which allows poetry to spin into the realms of the spiritual. His theory and practice is, therefore, thoroughly in tune with the premises of the modern notion of embodied cognition.