The lonely man in autumn

  • Der Einsame im Herbst.
  • Key: d minor.
  • Etwas schleppend. Ermudet. (Somewhat dragging. Weary.)
  • After Chinese poet: Qian Qi.
  • Voice: Alto (or Baritone).
  • Solo: Windinstruments.
  • Duration: 10 minutes.

This movement is a much softer, less turbulent movement. Marked ‘somewhat dragging and exhausted’, it begins with a repetitive shuffling in the strings, followed by solo wind instruments. The orchestration in this movement is sparse and chamber music-like, with long and independent contrapuntal lines.

The lyrics, which are based on the first part of a Tang Dynasty era poem by Qian Qi, lament the dying of flowers and the passing of beauty, as well as expressing an exhausted longing for sleep.

Der Einsame im Herbst

Herbstnebel wallen bläulich überm See;
Vom Reif bezogen stehen alle Gräser;
Man meint’, ein Künstler habe Staub vom Jade
Über die feinen (Blüten) 1 ausgestreut.

Der süße Duft der Blumen is verflogen;
Ein kalter Wind beugt ihre Stengel nieder.
Bald werden die verwelkten, goldnen Blätter
Der Lotosblüten auf dem Wasser ziehn.

Mein Herz ist müde. Meine kleine Lampe
Erlosch mit Knistern;
(es gemahnt mich an den Schlaf.) 2
Ich komm zu dir, traute Ruhestätte!
Ja, gib mir (Ruh) 3, ich hab Erquickung not!

Ich weine viel in meinen Einsamkeiten.
Der Herbst in meinem Herzen währt zu lange.
Sonne der Liebe, willst du nie mehr scheinen,
Um meine bittern Tränen (mild) 4 aufzutrocknen?


1 Hans Bethge (1876-1946): ‘Halme’.
2 Bethge: ‘an den Schlaf gemahnend’.
3 Bethge: ‘Schlaf’.
4 Added by Gustav Mahler.

The lonely man in autumn

Autumn mists drift, blue-tinged across the lake…
Coated with frost, all the grass stands stiff;
One would think an artist had sprinkled jade dust
Over the delicate blossoms.

The sweet scent of the flowers has vanished.
A cold wind bends their stems:
Soon the faded golden petals
Of the lotus will float past on the water.

My heart is weary. With a crackling sound my little lamp
Has gone out; it reminds me of sleep! …
I am coming to you, dear place of rest,
Yes, give me rest, I am in need of comfort.

I often weep in my lonely days . . .
The autumn in my heart has lasted too long.
Sun of love, will you never shine again
To gently dry away my bitter tears?

Listening Guide

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