The Drinking Song of the Earth’s Misery

The heavens are forever blue and the earth
Will stand firm for a long time and bloom in spring.
But you, Man, how long will you live then?
Not a hundred years are you allowed to enjoy
in all the rotten triviality of this earth!

– Attributed to Li Po and used by Gustav Mahler in his 1906 notes for what became NOT his ninth symphony, “Das Lied Von Der Erde.”

Mahler had a lot of earth song to compete with in 1906 what with the San Andreas fault providing a bass line, the eruption of Vesuvius throwing fire into the air and sizzling sand and pumice across miles and miles, the 1500 killed in Ecuador by an 8.8 magnitude quake off the coast and the tidal wave rushing inland that followed. But there’s nothing that would indicate that these tragedies, nor the storms that burst the dikes in Vlissingen in March nor the storms that pounded the west coast of Holland later that month, nor the 8.2 earthquake that destroyed Valparaiso, Chile later that year had anything to do with the Austrian composer’s themes. Gustav had his own problems, as do we all.

But if you have an urge to strip your cares away tomorrow I suggest you go outdoors and plant a tree or just shovel up dog shit like me. It’s Earth Day, no time to be miserable. C’mon, get shiny!

Posted in Creative Arts
3 comments on “The Drinking Song of the Earth’s Misery
  1. Gillian says:

    Good thing Mahler didn’t call it his 9th symphony, or he would’ve died so much sooner!

  2. If I was him, I woulda just called the ninth symphony the 10th, and busted out of the whole curse of the ninth symphony thing.

  3. liz says:

    The Journal of Negative Results is awaiting your submission.

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