“Put the fragrant mignonette and the last red aster
Here on the table.
Let us talk again of love,
As we did once in May.
Give me your hand, that I may squeeze in secret,
And if any see, we will not care.
Give me just one of your sweet glances,
As you did once in May.
Today, flowers bloom and sweeten each grave;
The one day of the year when the Dead are free.
Come to my heart, that I may have you here again,
As I did once in May.”
Hermann von Gilm, “Allerseelen” (transl. KPM)
The lyric to one of the most stirring of Richard Strauss’s remarkable lieder, the poem stands as a work of art in and of itself. Starting out as a paean to a familiar and intimate May-Day celebration, it ends up as a song of endearing and enduring grief. The connection between lyric and music is so strong in the great art songs, that we often forget the literary power of the words.