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(04/23/52 - xxxx / Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA)

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Das Lied Von Der Erde [The Song of the Earth]

Das Lied Von Der Erde

[The Song of the Earth by Gustav Mahler,
a song cycle of poems by Chinese poet Li Bai,
famous wandering poet of the Tang Dynasty]


I will listen then
as I do now to Mahler

I will out pour this
red wine

half fill
the glass

at the
intrusive mouse hiss

herald of The End
that is in contralto
sung

overwrought
outstrung

I will listen
will recover such
air enough around
to go on sing my
song tio-tangle in
tree limbs Van Gogh
still somewhere paints

knees sore
now and always
a call
to prayer

to woo in
old boots
worn leather

Weak knees
make me to
existence/being
adore

to which I
have only just
in a dream

renewed my wedding vows


*


I am drawn water
from artesian wells
deep

I am a bath with night stars

I am swelling in night-mirage

I am heat vectors from
day-heated earth-making

I am giddier star dance

bathing
on the porch at night
(so the shy mountain
cannot see)

I am rain water
gathered rhythmically
from the tin roof tonal

toks

glocks

in pots all kinds


*


O stand radiant-starred late afternoon

O stained stark shadows black frieze


astonished stooped man

time's wee piss-boy

damp bunk-bed mattress fears


O stand glazed from edges

gaze to bark

vine maps of escape


Iron shadows

impress long into

wet pit


sun shard

spy glass

throat sore


cracked song for dirty boots

Submitted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Edited: Sunday, November 03, 2013


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

To hear part of the final movement of the cycle copy and paste the link below. Kathleen Ferrier, the contralto, was dying of cancer and this is one of her last performances. The cycle is about life and death and end darkly with Ferrier's moving poignant rendering.

https: //www.youtube.com/watch? v=5X_Ii0ymVRM&list=PL24403E483C2A611E&index=7&feature=plpp_video

-

Here is a free English translation of the basis for Der Trunkene I'm Frühling.

處世若大夢, Life in the world is but a big dream;

胡爲勞其生. I will not spoil it by any labour or care.

所以終日醉, so saying, I was drunk all the day,

頹然臥前楹. lying helpless at the porch in front of my door.

覺來盼庭前, when I awoke, I blinked at the garden-lawn;

一鳥花間鳴. a lonely bird was singing amid the flowers.

借問此何時, I asked myself, had the day been wet or fine?

春風語流鶯. the Spring wind was telling the mango-bird.

感之欲嘆息, moved by its song I soon began to sigh,

對酒還自傾. and, as wine was there, I filled my own cup.

浩歌待明月, wildly singing I waited for the moon to rise;

曲盡已忘情. when my song was over, all my senses had gone.

Li Bai

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