Songs of Old Age

Song Cycle by Raymond Warren (b. 1928)

Word count: 840

?. After long silence [sung text not yet checked]

Speech after long silence; it is right,
All other lovers being estranged or dead,
Unfriendly lamplight hid under its shade,
The curtains drawn upon unfriendly night,
That we descant and yet again descant
Upon the supreme theme of Art and Song:
Bodily decrepitude is wisdom; young
We loved each other and were ignorant.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Men improve with the years [sung text not yet checked]

I am worn out with dreams;
A weather-worn, marble triton
Among the streams;
And all day long I look
Upon this lady's beauty
As though I had found in book
A pictured beauty,
Pleased to have filled the eyes
Or the discerning ears,
Delighted to be but wise,
For men improve with the years;
And yet and yet
Is this my dream, or the truth?
O would that we had met
When I had my burning youth;
But I grow old among dreams,
A weather-worn, marble triton
Among the streams.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Les hommes s'améliorent avec l'âge", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Confirmed with W. B. Yeats, Later Poems, Macmillan and Co., London, 1926, page 246.

First published in Little Review, June 1917

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. O do not love too long [sung text not yet checked]

[Sweetheart, do]1 not love too long:
I loved long and long, 
And grew to be out of fashion
Like an old song. 

All through the years of our youth
Neither could have known 
Their own thought from the other's,
We were so much at one. 

But O, in a minute [she]2 changed --
O do not love too long, 
Or [you will]3 grow out of fashion
Like an old song.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Oh, n'aime pas trop longtemps", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with W. B. Yeats, Later Poems, Macmillan and Co., London, 1926, page 86.

1 Wilkinson: "O do"
2 Rorem: "he"
3 Wilkinson: "you'll"

Researcher for this text: John Versmoren

?. A song [sung text not yet checked]

I thought no more was needed
Youth to prolong
Than dumb-bell and foil
To keep the body young.
Oh, who could have foretold
That the heart grows old?
  
Though I have many words,
What woman's satisfied,
I am no longer faint
Because at her side?
Oh, who could have foretold
That the heart grows old?
  
I have not lost desire
But the heart that I had,
I thought 'twould burn my body
Laid on the death-bed.
But who could have foretold
That the heart grows old?

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. The old men admiring themselves in the water [sung text not yet checked]

I heard the old, old men say,
"Everything alters,
And one by one we drop away."
They had hands like claws, and their knees
Were twisted like the old thorn-trees
By the waters.
I heard the old, old men say,
"All that's beautiful drifts away,
Like the waters."

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

First published in Pall Mall Magazine, January 1903

Confirmed with W. B. Yeats, Later Poems, Macmillan and Co., London, 1926, page 82.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Sailing to Byzantium [sung text not yet checked]

That is no country for old men.  The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
-- Those dying generations -- at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Walter A. Aue) , "Segeln nach Byzantium", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "In viaggio verso Bisanzio", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. From "Oedipus at Colonus" [sung text not yet checked]

Endure what life God gives and ask no longer span;
Cease to remember the delights of youth, travel-wearied aged man;
Delight becomes death-longing if all longing else be vain.

Even from that delight memory treasures so,
Death, despair, division of families, all entanglements of mankind grow,
As that old wandering beggar and these God-hated children know.

In the long echoing street the laughing dancers throng,
The bride is catried to the bridegroom's chamber through torchlight and tumultuous song;
I celebrate the silent kiss that ends short life or long.

Never to have lived is best, ancient writers say;
Never to have drawn the breath of life, never to have looked into the eye of day;
The second best's a gay goodnight and quickly turn away.

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Later published in The Tower, one of A Man Young And Old, no. 11

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Those dancing days are gone [sung text not yet checked]

Come, let me sing into your ear;
Those dancing days are gone,
All that silk and satin gear;
Crouch upon a stone,
Wrapping that foul body up
In as foul a rag:
I carry the sun in a golden cup.
The moon in a silver bag.

Curse as you may I sing it through;
What matter if the knave
That the most could pleasure you,
The children that he gave,
Are somewhere sleeping like a top
Under a marble flag?
I carry the sun in a golden cup.
The moon in a silver bag.

I thought it out this very day.
Noon upon the clock,
A man may put pretence away
Who leans upon a stick,
May sing, and sing until he drop,
Whether to maid or hag:
I carry the sun in a golden cup,
The moon in a silver bag.

Authorship

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

First published in London Mercury, November 1930, revised 1932

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]