Adam Kirsch's essay "The Taste of Silence," in the January 2008 issue of Poetry, makes the claim that "the best document" of contemporary poetry's "metaphysical sensibility" is Martin Heidegger's essay "The Origin of the Work of Art."
The way I phrased that might make you think that I find Kirsch's claim ridiculous, but I do not. The quoted phrases above are at the end of his first paragraph, and I am sure that Kirsch himself wanted to present the claim as being a bit absurd at first glance.
The essay argues cogently, however, that Heidegger's contrast between "poetry of earth" and "poetry of world" can be a useful heuristic in the interpretation of broader trends in contemporary poetry (whereby he seems to be referring primarily to English-language poetry). He paraphrases the concepts well, as far as I can tell, so if you want to know what those terms mean, read his essay (or, of course, Heidegger's).
My purpose here is to make four comments on Kirsch's essay (all of which assume you have read it):
1. At times, Kirsch seems to be arguing that the phrase I used above ("a useful heuristic") is all that he is getting at when it comes to saying that, as it were, "we are all Heideggerians now." That is, he is not saying that contemporary poets have read Heidegger; instead, he is saying that Heidegger is useful as a tool for interpreting contemporary poetry.
However, in presenting his three examples (Seamus Heaney, Charles Simic, and Billy Collins), Kirsch does seem to make a stronger claim when he calls Simic "another poet deeply indebted to Heidegger." At that point in the essay, he has not yet discussed Collins, so by saying "another poet" about Simic, Kirsch appears to be arguing that Heaney is one poet "deeply indebted to Heidegger."
I wish he had not put it that way. Until that moment, Kirsch's essay reminded me of Borges's essay "Kafka and His Precursors," in which Borges provides a list of Kafka's precursors, none of whom Kafka himself ever read. Kafka need not have read Lord Dunsany, for example, for Kafka's work to provide a way of understanding Dunsany's work (or vice versa, Borges implies).
Similarly, I would have been perfectly happy with the claim that Heidegger helps us understand contemporary poetry, so I prefer to read the phrase "deeply indebted to Heidegger" as simply infelicitous (since I assume Kirsch did not really mean to imply that Simic is an actual reader of Heidegger).
2. I appreciate essays that do not mark their own occasion—it gets tiresome to read essays in the German press that always begin with the justification for writing about a particular author at a particular time—but in the case of this essay, I was very curious. What made Kirsch write this essay at this time? In the absence of a context, I wondered who Kirsch felt he was arguing with.
3. For two reasons, Heidegger does not seem to me to be the most appropriate twentieth-century thinker for much of what Kirsch wants to say: first, he's too mystical and obscure, even when he is trying to be down to earth; secondly, there's all that Third Reich baggage that even Kirsch feels he has to deal with explicitly in his essay.
Much of what Kirsch wants to use Heidegger for could be done as effectively, without the mystical and political problems, by referring to Victor Shklovsky and his concept of "defamiliarization," for example.
4. I have translated Heidegger's poetry (as part of my translation of the correspondence of Arendt and Heidegger). Whenever people start using Heidegger to talk about poetry, I start thinking about stuff like this:
In Jähen, raren, blitzt uns Seyn.
Wir spähen, wahren — schwingen ein.
Or, as I tried to render it:
In rare abruptness, Being's flash of light.
We peer, protect—turn towards the sight.
Heidegger may have been a good reader of Trakl, or Hölderlin, or even of Van Gogh (as in the "Work of Art" essay), but the poetry does not show that he learned much from them.