Seliger Tod


Seliger Tod - (2009)    

Ludwig Uhland

for medium or high voice and piano


Gestorben war ich

Vor Liebeswonne;

Begraben lag ich

In ihren Armen;

Erwecket ward ich

Von ihren Küssen;

Den Himmel sah ich

In ihren Augen.

[ 2 pages, circa 2' 15" ]

Ludwig Uhland


I had been dead

Before love's wonder;

I was buried

Into its arms;

I was resuscitated

by its kisses;

I saw heaven

in its eyes.


For sheer compactness and directness, this love poem -- reproduced in many anthologies, among them Reclam's Deutsche Liebeslyrik -- this text is admirable. In four sentences, each divided into two lines for the shape of the poem, Uhland manages to tell a story complete with before and after, through its use of the past tense. For some facts about Ludwig Uhland, please see the comments about my setting of his text, Frühlingsglaube.



The first phrase of each sentence contains the verb and the last the elements of love. This cannot be so repeated in a setting, excepting to break the vocal line at the line break in the text itself for the first two sentences, and repeat the last phrase of each. Thereafter, I opted for a longer vocal line for the sake of lyricism.



The repetition of the second half of the sentences is done with for the coda, as a reprise of the first line -- the "before" -- yields to a statement of the all-important title for this fine poem. That dying "into love" is seen as holy is a theme throughout literature, and Uhland herein has managed to say it anew with clear, romantic and simple declamation. The rising line and repetition of "seliger Tod" leads away from the tonic and into a cadence on F major, as unexpected as sometimes is new love.


The score for Seliger Tod is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


Seliger Tod