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When you are old and gray and full of...

Language: English

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false [or]1 true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead 
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Translation(s): FRE GER HUN ITA

List of language codes

G. Bachlund sets stanzas 1-2
F. Bridge sets stanzas 1-2

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
Note: this poem is often described as a free adaptation of Ronsard's Quand vous serez bien vieille.

1 Bachlund: "and"

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of William B. Yeats in two volumes, volume 1 : Lyrical Poems, The Macmillan Company, New York and London, 1906, page 179.

Submitted by Garth Baxter


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Walter A. Aue) , title 1: "Wenn Du alt bist", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • HUN Hungarian (Magyar) (Tamás Rédey) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , title 1: "Quando ormai sarai vecchia, e grigia e sonnolenta", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

Last modified: 2017-10-11 12:39:24
Line count: 12
Word count: 100

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Midőn ősz, öregkor álma száll rád

Language: Hungarian (Magyar) after the English

Midőn ősz, öregkor álma száll rád,
Ha tűzre bólogatsz – fogd e verset,
Lassan olvasd; idézd föl szemednek
Simogató fényét, éles árnyát!

Hányan szerették édes bájaid
S a szépséged, álnokul vagy híven?
De volt egy, aki bolyongó szíved
Szerette, s arcod apró ráncait.

Hajolj le az izzó rostély fölé
S mormold: hogyan futott a szerelem
Zavarva, űzve; túl a hegyeken,
Temetni magát sok csillag közé.

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About the headline (FAQ)


  • Translation from English to Hungarian (Magyar) copyright © 2015 by Tamás Rédey, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.


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Based on
  • a text in English by William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939), "When you are old", appears in The Countess Kathleen and Various Legends and Lyrics, appears in The Rose, first published 1892 FRE GER ITA
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Gary Bachlund, Garth Baxter, Frank Bridge, Doreen Droste, Richard B. Evans, John Fearing, Ivor Gurney, Ben Moore, Walter Byron Mourant, Vittorio Rieti, Tom Vernon Ritchie, Rick Sowash, John Kenneth Tavener, Raymond Warren, Graham Whettam, Stephen Wilkinson, Yehudi Wyner. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2015-03-05.
Last modified: 2015-03-05 16:07:53
Line count: 12
Word count: 65