Gustav Mahler: Der Tambourg’sell.
It’s an wrenching, heart-on-sleeve story of a soldier about to be executed. And the stanza that resounds with me most is not the final (“Farewell, marble rocks; farewell, mountains and hills”); it’s not even the second (“Oh, gallows, you tall house, you look so frightening”).
It’s the third:
Wenn Soldaten vorbeimarschier’n,
bei mir nit einquartier’n.
Wenn sie fragen, wer i g’wesen bin:
Tambour von der Leibkompanie!
When soldiers march past,
that are not billeted with me,
When they ask who I used to be:
Drummer of the first company!
“Who I used to be.” All my life’s regrets, rolled into one.