Throughout “The Farewell,” (Der Abschied), the last song in The Song of the Earth, a prominent theme is the beauty of the natural world, which serves as balm for the soul and the ultimate refuge from life. In passages of increasing richness and exaltation, Mahler’s birdsong-infused music calms the singer’s passionate expressions of longing. In 1907, Mahler spent several days with some good friends in the Moravian countryside, and the sounds and atmosphere of his beloved area may have left its mark here.
At the end of “The Farewell,” as his eagerly awaited friend disappears into the mountains, the protangonist bids farewell to a world where the spring is “newly green.” This conflation of the earth’s beauty and spiritual contentment receives its most exalted expression here in a soaring melody over delicately tinted instrumentation. Mahler bids farewell to the world of nature, as the eagerly awaited friend bids farewell and disappears into the mountains. The final words, “ewig, ewig” (“forever, forever”) are barely audible.