I can gauge his frustration by mine. Nobody
knows how I long for him. And yet—I cannot
imagine giving myself to him before the appointed time. A sense of injustice and shame
would degrade the whole, holy mystery. My
When I’m on my own, I feel the emptiness—
the missing other half.
We could scarcely bring ourselves to part.
Why these dreadful conventions? Why can’t I
simply move in with him? Without a church
wedding. We’re consumed with longing, are
dissipating our strongest desires. He bared his
breast, and I put my hand on his heart. I feel:
his body is mine—he and I are one. I love every
part of him in turn—nobody exists other than
he. No other thought!
I’m wearing my hair loose now—he loves
it that way—and our bodies cried out for union.
Oh—to bear his child!
When shall I be his!
Another ninety nights!
New Year’s Eve
At midday I was with him. pm at Zierers’.
In the evening he, Justi, and Arnold called
on us. Very, very nice! More than that—oh
God. Once I was on the point of giving myself
to him. Then I thought: how awful if he had
to leave straight after—and I remained alone
with my torment. No, no. His beloved hand
explored my body, and mine his. We clasped
each other tightly. No—I want to give myself freely, without constraint, with no fear of
disturbance. I love him. I have only one wish:
may the New Year not shatter my dream. I love
him—and so I close. My life is his, he shares
my joys, I his sorrows.
New Year’s Day, 1902
What I have to write today is terribly sad. I
called on Gustav—in the afternoon we were
alone in his room. He gave me his body—and
I let him touch me with his hand. Stiff and
upright stood his vigor. He carried me to the
sofa, laid me gently down, and swung himself
over me. Then—just as I felt him penetrate, he
lost all strength. He laid his head on my breast,
shattered—and almost wept for shame. Distraught as I was, I comforted him.
We drove home, dismayed and dejected.
He grew a little more cheerful. Then I broke
down, had to weep, weep on his breast. What if
he were to lose—that! My poor, poor husband!
I can scarcely say how irritating it all
was. First his intimate caresses, so close—and
then no satisfaction. Words cannot express
what I today have undeservedly suffered. And
then to observe his torment—his unbelievable torment!
Bliss and rapture.
Rapture without end.
This evening: at Gustav’s. His friends…all
conspicuously Jewish. I could find no bond…
amused myself by stunning them with unprecedented impertinence, said I didn’t care
for Gustav’s music, etc. On the way home, we
laughed and laughed. It had been so tedious.
Alma Mahler-Werfel, from her diary. Growing
up in an artistic household in fin-de-siècle Vienna,
Mahler-Werfel participated in student recitals
during the 1890s but initially hated performing.
A condition of her marriage to composer Gustav
Mahler at the age of twenty-two was that she would
abandon her own career as a composer, though he—
who was nineteen years her senior—later encouraged
her to resume the work. Fewer than twenty of her
compositions have survived. After Gustav’s death in
1911, she married architect Walter Gropius and, in
1929, writer Franz Werfel.
What passion cannot music raise and quell!
—John Dryden, 1687