Das Jahr Der Seele Analysis

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Webern took the last poem he set to music in his Op. 4 from Traurige Tänze (Mournful Dances), the third and final section of Das Jahr der Seele. Most of the cycle’s thirty-two poems were written around March 1895 in Munich. Schultz (2005) remarks on their simple expressiveness, metric variety and rhythmic musicality. She writes “The themes of seasons and hours play loosely throughout, and despite his grief the lyrical “I” and his companion(s) continue to roam the landscape.” Friedrich Gundolf, a close friend of George, described Traurige Tänze as magic spells, “where dark powers resound ‘als Schicksalsmächte, und wer wüßte über diese unmittelbar etwas auszusagen!‘” George’s contemporaries perceived “Ihr tratet zu dem herde”, the twenty-eighth…show more content…
The speaker talks directly to the group (“Ihr”), instead of addressing a single person or speaking of a “we” like he does in many other poems from Das Jahr der Seele. He draws their attention to the pale moon that comforts them with its dead light and, as Morwitz (1969) argues, reminds them that there is no point in looking for a living spark when it is too late. Rasch identifies the addressees as George’s contemporaries. They have not recognised decay as clearly as the poet, who depicts it with the image of the dead embers that were once a full fire but cannot be…show more content…
The fifth and sixth verse describe how the group of people put their pale fingers into the ashes and try to reignite the embers. According to Schäfer, who refers to Derrida, ash is a sign which indicates the passing of time as a material trace but can do so only in the form of negation, i.e. as disappearing, transformation or destruction. The urgency of their attempt is conveyed through the accumulation of different verbs meaning “to search” in the seventh verse. The exclamation mark at the end of the eighth verse appears out of place as the imperative “werd” instead of the indicative “wird” is needed to express the group’s request. As Morwitz points out, the eighth verse reveals, besides the wish for a spark, the uncertainty whether a new fire is possible at all. The ambiguous punctuation and syntax, the change of tense and a possible change in metre make the eighth verse appear at once as a question, an order, however impossible it is, a narration and a possible prognosis for the future, and yet as none of them. Rasch calls attention to the double meaning of the noun “Schein”, which can signify both glow and illusion and conveys that the flash the group seems to see in the embers is no real, living

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