Monday, January 31, 2011

Aufersteh'n, ja aufersteh'n

Gustav Mahler, 1860-1911.

I have listened off and on to Gustav Mahler's Symphony Number 2, the "Resurrection" symphony, since I was eighteen. In fact, part of the libretto from the symphony's fifth movement has been with me all that time in a special way. I'll explain in a bit....

Here's a nice video of the end of the symphony's fifth movement, recorded in 1974.

Below, in German and in English, is the libretto of the fifth movement. The beginning of the libretto comes from Die Auferstehung by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock.

Aufersteh'n, ja aufersteh'n
Wirst du, Mein Staub,
Nach kurzer Ruh'!
Unsterblich Leben! Unsterblich Leben
wird der dich rief dir geben!

Wieder aufzublüh'n wirst du gesät!
Der Herr der Ernte geht
und sammelt Garben
uns ein, die starben!

O glaube, mein Herz, o glaube:
Es geht dir nichts verloren!
Dein ist, ja dein, was du gesehnt!
Dein, was du geliebt,
Was du gestritten!

O glaube
Du wardst nicht umsonst geboren!
Hast nicht umsonst gelebt, gelitten!

Was entstanden ist
Das muß vergehen!
Was vergangen, auferstehen!
Hör' auf zu beben!
Bereite dich zu leben!

O Schmerz! Du Alldurchdringer!
Dir bin ich entrungen!
O Tod! Du Allbezwinger!
Nun bist du bezwungen!

Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen,
In heißem Liebesstreben,
Werd'ich entschweben
Zum Licht, zu dem kein Aug'gedrungen!
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen
Werde ich entschweben.
Sterben werd'ich, um zu leben!
Aufersteh'n, ja aufersteh'n
wirst du, mein Herz, in einem Nu!
Was du geschlagen
zu Gott wird es dich tragen!
Rise again, yes, rise again,
Will you My dust,
After a brief rest!
Immortal life! Immortal life
Will He who called you, give you.

To bloom again were you sown!
The Lord of the harvest goes
And gathers in, like sheaves,
Us together, who died.

O believe, my heart, O believe:
Nothing to you is lost!
Yours is, yes yours, is what you desired
Yours, what you have loved
What you have fought for!

O believe,
You were not born for nothing!
Have not for nothing, lived, suffered!

What was created
Must perish,
What perished, rise again!
Cease from trembling!
Prepare yourself to live!

O Pain, You piercer of all things,
From you, I have been wrested!
O Death, You masterer of all things,
Now, are you conquered!

With wings which I have won for myself,
In love’s fierce striving,
I shall soar upwards
To the light which no eye has penetrated!
Its wing that I won is expanded,
and I fly up.
Die shall I in order to live.
Rise again, yes, rise again,
Will you, my heart, in an instant!
That for which you suffered,
To God will it lead you!

When I was eighteen, I bought a CD of Vince Guaraldi's score for A Boy Named Charlie Brown. In those days, CDs came in their regular jewel cases and also in long cardboard packages with the cover art. So when I bought the Charlie Brown CD, I had this long picture of Charlie Brown standing on the pitcher's mound in baseball hat and glove, looking rather resigned to frustration.

I don't remember when, how, or why it occurred to me to do this, but I trimmed the cardboard to roughly 5"x7" size and then, at the white space up top, typed the following, taken from the libretto:
With wings that I have gained
Shall I soar aloft
In love's ardent striving
To the light which no eye has pierced!
I used an old electric typewriter and typed those lines. That typewriter came with me to college and helped me compose many a paper, although word processing technology and computer labs were starting to become better and better as I made my way toward graduation.

Believe it or not, I was never quite sure of why I thought to pair these words from the libretto with that image of Charlie Brown on the mound. I suppose I was making a statement that I, soon to be off to college, was poised to fly from angst-ridden suburban awkwardness to a more definite sense of self and personal achievement. At any rate, I was very eager to leave my parents' home and be part of a university learning and social community.

From where I am now, I rather doubt I've soared to the light which no eye has pierced. But I have soared, and my eye has seen plenty that I never could have imagined 20-plus years ago. And, perhaps, soaring in love has brought me to more and better light than anything else before.

I still fly today, if not soar.

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