"Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen"

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            As we all know, the world changed in permanent and profound ways shortly after Mahler’s death.  In most respects the cataclysm of World War I was the turning point of modern history--all that was before passed away, and the horrors of the ensuing times began.   Mahler’s introspection seems to understand that the “Guns of August” were near.  His life’s epitaph perhaps is best heard in his poignant song, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen.  It is one of his last works, and part of the group of Rückert-Lieder, after the poet, Friedrich Rückert, who not only wrote the poetry for this group of five songs, but also for Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder (“Songs on the Deaths of Children”).  They were given their première in Vienna in January of 1905.

            This is a special song, considered by most to be perhaps one of the composer’s most intimate and personal expressions of the intensity of his love affair with life, and the tragedies that it dealt him.  He has done his best, and now drifts into eternity.  Serenely and acceptingly his soul departs the world and its tragedies . . .


                                                                              . . . I am dead to the bustle of the world

                                                                              and repose in tranquil realms.

                                                                              I live alone in my heaven,

                                                                              in my love, in my song.


--Wm. E. Runyan

©2019 William E. Runyan