Jeden Abend werfe ich


Jeden Abend werfe ich - (2009)    

Erich Kurt Mühsam

for medium or high voice and piano


Jeden Abend werfe ich
eine Zukunft hinter mich,
die sich niemals mehr erhebt -
denn sie hat im Geist gelebt.
Neue Bilder werden, wachsen;
Welten drehn um neue Achsen,
werden, sterben, lieben, schaffen.
Die Vergangenheiten klaffen. --
Tobend, wirbelnd stürzt die Zeit
in die Gruft. -- Das Leben schreit!

[ 4 pages, circa 2' 50" ]

Erich Kurt Mühsam


Every evening away I toss
A future into yesterday's dross,
A potential that shall never be --
Some spirit that had lived in me.
New visions shall arise and bide,
Spinning, to new axles tied,
To become, to die, to love, to make
The many pasts gape wide awake --
Wildly whirling time pours out
Into the grave -- and life cries out!


Rhymed paraphrase by GB


The contrast between life crying out as time drops away into the grave is most powerful. Advice given me decades ago by a trusted rabbi suggested that among my daily meditations should be the clear notion that today I might die. This is no morbid musing, but rather a clarification of goals on a daily basis, quite similar to such fine questions as "How much would you pay for peace of mind?" Like another perspective which seems much more tongue-in-cheek, the musing is about clarifying the mind is important to critical thought. "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." (in Boswell: Life by Samuel Johnson, 1709-1795). Erich Mühsam notes with powerful imagery that a possible future is lost each day by not acting on it, a possible future which calls to us as time "pours" itself out.



The dramatic, aggressive introduction over a pedal tonic represents in part the enormity of man's view of death as the end of one's own "time." Until measure 12 this pedal abides, yielding to the upward diatonic thrust of the bass line in opposition to the downward fall of the upper voices.



The tension of the opening gestures continues until a break in the meter and tonic major opens a view to "new visions" -- potentialities to which an individual may react and make into reality under the pressure of this awareness that time passes. It is a challenge issued to us by Mühsam, as by other poets, to act and not remain a mere spectator in the passage of time.



The score 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 piano-vocal score.


Jeden Abend werfe ich