The Final Movement of Mahler's Ninth

(Unrevised from a poetry workshop. A pattern of expression was given by another poem (in a line-by-line fashion) and the object was to mimic this pattern.)

The final movement was a mill-stone about my neck.
My back hurts when the world is my necklace.
This sighing music,
Funereal, bringing to mind the marble ranks at Arlington,
Cold wind licking my face as a Marine plays "Taps" on his bugle.
The strings, though high and straining,
Weigh on my heart, stifle my breath.
Mahler, was it your death you were contemplating?
I am strongest when I wear the shackles of this earth.
When there's a burden to bear,
Everything's groovy
'Cause the weight of the world
Makes me a heavy dude!
The rusty yoke of corporescence
Makes me jump and sing.
I can, like Whitman,
Perceive myself in everyone through this,
My weight of being.
Yes, Georgie can dance with Death without fear.
Death will come to a prepared man,
Happy skeleton who reaps.
I will follow, barefoot or in sandals.
Der Tod ist mein Freund. Der Tod ist das Leben *
Seen on the dark side of the coin.
The strings sob, breathe infinite elegies.
I am overlooking all the cemetaries of the world,
Leaning back in thought, questions unspoken,
But writhing leprous through the wasted harvests of life and the living.

George Chadderdon © 1996

* German: Literally, "Death is my friend. Death is Life"