Schubert's Death and the Maiden
Give me your hand, you lovely, tender creature!
I am a friend, and come not to chastise.
Be of good courage. I am not cruel,
You shall sleep softly in my arms!
So says Death in Matthias Claudius's poem "Der Tod und das Madchen," the poem that inspired Schubert's song of the same name, composed in 1817. Seven years later the composer would revisit the song, extending the theme and tenor into String Quartet No. 14, D 810. The seven years that passed were not happy ones. Schubert had lost what little of his health remained, and he was without money, thanks in part to Anton Diabelli, the music publisher whose name has been immortalized by Beethoven's Diabelli Variations.