Inside and Outside


Nobody has ever heard me, he thinks and staggers out.
He sees a mouth in the moonlight, the mouth is open, the mouth is open, the mouth is singing.
The mouth is silent.

„Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust!“ (‚Wandering ist he miller’s delight‘) – did he not sing that once? At the time when he still believed, loved and hoped. No, now wandering is compulsion, the pace is no longer playful, but remorseless, the eighths oft he piano strictly intent on getting on. Spring is merely a memory, hardly a song in which there is no talk of snow, wind or ice. And the wanderer’s emotions freeze parallel to the weather.

He speaks to his beloved for the last time (‚damit du mögest sehen, an Dich hab ich gedacht‘[‚so that you may see I have thought of you‘]), then he loses all contact to civilization – and only at the very end, in his very last sentence, will he speak to a human again, the hurdy-gurdy man, with whom a new journey might commence. On the way we also hear the wanderer’s direct speech, but it is directed at the stream, the town, the leaves, the crow, the dogs, the walking-staff and the three suns. His desperate attempts to find answers to his questions even go inside him, he appeals to his tears and even to his heart in three songs. And suddenly, after about half the distance, he steps entirely out of his world and turns to his audience, like an actor departing from his role: ‚Ihr lacht wohl über den Träumer, der Blumen im Winter sah?‘ (‚Are you laughing at the dreamer who beheld flowers in winter?‘).
The context, the mutual conditioning of inner and outer tempo, has probably never before or since been as convincingly composed as in the 24 songs of the Winterreise. Between the opposing views as to whether emotion determines the tempo or whether the tempo evokes a feeling, Schubert opted fort he narrowest conceivable middle course for his wanderer. In exactly half the songs the pace is given by the different walking speeds, in six songs external factors determine the tempo, and in six songs it is caused by emotions:
Walking speed
I.Wandering, III.Slowing down, IV.Searching restlessly, VIII.Fleeing and stumbling, IX.Going dowhill carefully, X.Tottering with fatigue, XII.Dragging himself, XIV.Waking up and forcing himself to walk, XVI.Straying, XIX.Dancing, XX.Wandering, XXII.Defiantly forwards
Inner tempo
VI.First pause, VII.Heartbeat, XI.Dream-reality-wish, XVII.Uneasy listening, XXI.Desperate dream song, XXIII.Solemn contemplation
Outer tempo
II.Wind, V.Leaves rustling, XIII.Posthorn signal, XV.Wings beating, XVIII.Storm, XXIV. Hurdy-gurdy
To cite only two instances of how subtly and simultaneously compellingly Schubert proceeds:
‚Gute Nacht‘ and ‚Der Wegweiser‘ have the same metre (2/4), the same tempo indication (Moderate) and the same continuous eighths movement – yet it occurs automatically that, after the long journey, the wanderer (and with him the singer) no longer hast he verve and the energy of the beginning and the tempo becomes slower.
Another example ist he tempo bracket above Songs IV to VI; thus, the hectically searching eighth triplets of ‚Erstarrung‘ turn into the rustling sixteenth triplets at the beginning of the ‚Lindenbaum‘, and the dreamy, resigned eighth triplets in the accompaniment oft he final stanza correspond to the sweeping ones at the beginning of ‚Wasserflut‘.

Flows clearly and evenly, as if snow were hidden behind the eye and slowly melting.

Back to the wanderer and his freezing emotions; once the exile has embarked on his journey, there is rustling, melting and flowing in all the songs until ‚Rückblick‘, the stream and the river are still the symbols oft he suffering man’s emotions, there is movement in memory at least. But in the ‚Irrlicht‘, there is only a dried up river bed and then nothing – only paths, roads and finally wasteland. Now it is winter, the last friendly touch of green flashes up in the dream of spring, then everything is black and white. In the second half, colours only appear three times, but all the more significantly, as signs of death: the colourful falling leaves (XVI), the red flames in the sky (XVIII) and ultimately the green wreaths (XXI).
But death will not come, however much the fatigued wanderer yearns for it – he is still young and his journey is long not over. Escape into madness does not succeed either, although he would choose this turning in three songs (IX, XVI, XIX), if he only could. Worse still: at the end he sees more clearly than ever before himself, his way and the absurdity of wanting to escape from the anguish of his love.
Love ist he third sun from the triumvirate of fate – love – and hope and does not wish to perish.
He lost his faith at the outset and confirms this shortly before the end by defiantly putting himself in God’s place (XXII); he buries hope under tears (XVI) and says his final farewell, for ‚ich bin zu Ende mit allen Träumen‘ (‚all my dreams are over‘).
The love for his faithless girl, however, his miller’s daughter, who is now another’s bride, will give him – whether he likes it or not – the light and the energy for his further journey.

A signpost to himself, but with arms turned down.
Showing somewhere into himself.
After ‚My Anguish‘ 2 miles

Translated by Ian Mansfield
The quotations derive from the novel Wedding Worries by Stig Dagerman, 1949

Inside and Outside
“You must always take the characters seriously”