Bauchweh - (2010)
Erich Kurt Mühsam
medium voice and piano
Därme wälzen sich im Kampfe;
es zuckt der Leib im Magenkrampfe:
die Welt ist schlecht, - die Welt ist schlecht.
Daß die der Herr im Zorn zerstampfe!
Daß sie verpuffe und verdampfe! -
So wär' es recht! - So wär' es recht!
Angst ist das Leben und Beschwerde;
der Mensch, er sitzt am Schmerzensherde
im Weltenbauch, - im Weltenbauch.
In qualzerrissener Gebärde
krümmt sich der Bauch der Welt, der Erde, -
und meiner auch. - Und meiner auch.
pages, circa 3' 00" ]
Erich Kurt Mühsam
bowels writhe about in battle;
The body twitches in stomach cramps:
The world is horrid, -- the world is horrid.
It is as if God trampled about in wrath!
That the world might fizzle and disappear! -
Oh would it be! -- Oh would it be!
Fear is our life and its infirmity;
Man, he sits in the center of pains
In the world's belly, - in the world's belly.
In torment-torn gestures
Does the world's belly double over, the earth, -
And mine too. -- And mine too!
text is drawn from his early collection, Der Krater, among poems
intense with political and theological import. The pains which the poet sees
are personal and world-wide, such that the metaphor of visceral bodily pain
suffices in both realms. Placing the poem in the upheaval of that time and
place, Mühsam paints a harsh picture which he, of all poets of the time,
earned a right to so do. The individual or an entire society doubled over by
pain fluctuates between outbursts and rage, on the one hand, and a flagging
energy on the other.
this the setting sings both within the context of the 3/8 meter, at first
filled with rapid-fire notes and then broadening into long sustained
four-note chords, such that the chromaticism is twelve-tone complete across
a short duration of time without the reference to any dodecaphonic system.
As the phrase repeats, the opening intensity drains away.
ends of both stanzas are accompanied by falling half steps, as the setting
closes in a whisper of dissipated dissonance.
The score for
Bauchweh is available as a free PDF download, though any major
commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior
arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this