Das Lied des Trinkers -
Rainer Maria Rilke
bass or baritone and piano
war nicht in mir. Es ging aus und ein.
Da wollt ich es halten. Da hielt es der Wein.
(Ich weiß nicht mehr was es war.)
Dann hielt er mir jenes und hielt mir dies
bis ich mich ganz auf ihn verließ.
Jetzt bin ich in seinem Spiel und er streut
mich verächtlich herum und verliert mich noch heut
an dieses Vieh, an den Tod.
Wenn der mich, schmutzige Karte, gewinnt,
so kratzt er mit mir seinen grauen Grind
und wirft mich fort in den Kot.
pages, circa 2' 30"
Rainer Maria Rilke
The song of the drunkard
It just wasn't in me. It came and then it went.
I wanted to hold back. The wine did not.
(I am forgetting what exactly it was.)
Then it gave me this and then that,
Until I was abandoned.
I, the fool.
Now I'm in its game, and it tosses
Me about and loses me today
Like cattle are lost to their slaughter.
As death has won me, its filthy pawn,
It scratches its bleak scabs with me
And tosses me into the mire.
paraphrase by gb
This dark picture of drunkenness is
found in Rilke's Das Buch der Bilder, his book of pictures in prose
poems. In two strophes, the setting takes the first as its relative major of
the key signature. As with addictions, there remains a dichotomy between
those arguing it as human behavior and those arguing it to be a human
disease. When one ignores one's choices which lead to addictions, often a
rosy explanation is offered in excuse to the self, and the darker picture is
painted of the consequence of choices as disease. A waltz feeling "in one"
coupled with the relative major of A flat carries this lighter feeling and
the second strophe, memory is erased by harsh reality, and for this the key
signature now evidences its minor key's harmonies and cramped chromaticism.
The outburst at the last moment rephrased the opening waltz feeling now
beginning on C minor and leading to a fortissimo cadence in the tonic minor
of F as the vocal line cries out that rationalization, "Es war nicht in
The score for
Das Lied des Trinkers 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
Das Lied des Trinkers