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Abschied von der Welt (1852) Op. 135 no.4

Part of a series or song cycle:

Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart (Op. 135)

Abschied von der Welt

Was nützt die mir noch zugemess’ne Zeit?
Mein Herz erstarb für irdisches Begehren,
Nur Leiden soll mein Schatten nicht entbehren,
Mir blieb allein die Todesfreudigkeit.
Ihr Feinde, lasst von eurem Neid:
Mein Herz ist abgewandt der Hoheit Ehren,
Des Schmerzes Übermass wird mich verzehren;
Bald geht mit mir zu Grabe Hass und Streit.
Ihr Freunde, die ihr mein gedenkt in Liebe,
Erwägt und glaubt, dass ohne Kraft und Glück
Kein gutes Werk mir zu vollenden bliebe.
So wünscht mir bess’re Tage nicht zurück,
Und weil ich schwer gestrafet werd’ hienieden,
Erfleht mir meinen Teil am ew’gen Frieden!

Farewell to the World

What use is the time still allotted me?
My heart is dead to earthly desires,
My spirit is severed from all but sorrow,
The joy of death alone remains.
Cease envying me, O enemies:
My heart abjures all honour and nobility,
Excess of anguish will devour me,
Hatred and schism will soon be buried with me.
O friends, who will remember me with love,
Consider and believe that without power or fortune
There is nothing good I can achieve.
So do not wish for the return of happier days,
And because I’ve been sorely punished here on earth,
Pray that a share of eternal peace might be mine!
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Robert Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as KinderszenenAlbum für die JugendBlumenstück, the Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck's daughter Clara, against the wishes of her father, following a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career as a pianist, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father's fortune.

Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, first manifesting itself in 1833 as a severe melancholic depressive episode, which recurred several times alternating with phases of ‘exaltation’ and increasingly also delusional ideas of being poisoned or threatened with metallic items. After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted to amental asylum, at his own request, in Endenich near Bonn. Diagnosed with "psychotic melancholia", Schumann died two years later in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.

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Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I of Scotland, was Queen of Scotland from 14 December 1542 to 24 July 1567 and Queen consort of France from 10 July 1559 to 5 December 1560.

Mary, the only surviving legitimate child of King James V of Scotland, was six days old when her father died and she acceded to the throne. She spent most of her childhood in France while Scotland was ruled by regents, and in 1558, she married the Dauphin of France, Francis. He ascended the French throne as King Francis II in 1559, and Mary briefly became queen consort of France, until his death in December 1560. Widowed, Mary returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith on 19 August 1561. Four years later, she married her first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, but their union was unhappy. In February 1567, his residence was destroyed by an explosion, and Darnley was found murdered in the garden.

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was generally believed to have orchestrated Darnley's death, but he was acquitted of the charge in April 1567, and the following month he married Mary. Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. On 24 July 1567, she was forced to abdicate in favour of James, her one-year-old son by Darnley. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, she fled southwards seeking the protection of her first cousin once removed, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Mary had previously claimed Elizabeth's throne as her own and was considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many English Catholics, including participants in a rebellion known as the Rising of the North. Perceiving her as a threat, Elizabeth had her confined in various castles and manor houses in the interior of England. After eighteen and a half years in custody, Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth, and was subsequently beheaded.

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