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Song Cycle for Gina

Song Cycle by John Kenneth Tavener (1944 - 2013)

1. When you are old [sung text not yet checked]

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.

Authorship:

See other settings of this text.

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) , "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) , "Quando ormai sarai vecchia, e grigia e sonnolenta", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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.


Researcher for this text: Garth Baxter

2. The angels are stooping [sung text not yet checked]

The angels are [stooping]1, above your bed;
They weary of trooping with the whimpering dead.
God's laughing in heaven to see you so good;
The [Shining]2 Seven are gay with His mood.
[I kiss you and kiss you, my pigeon my own.
Ah how I shall miss you when you have grown.]3

Authorship:

See other settings of this text.

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

  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Una ninna nanna", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Scots Observer, April 1890; revised 1901
1 Grill: "singing"
2 Ebel, Grill: "Sailing"
3 Ebel: "I sigh that kiss you, for I must own/ That I shall miss you when you have grown."; Grill: "I sigh that kiss you, for I must own/ That I shall miss you when you have gone."

Research team for this text: Ted Perry , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

3. The curlew [sung text not yet checked]

O, curlew, cry no more in the air, 
Or only to the waters in the West; 
Because your crying brings to my mind 
Passion-dimmed eyes and long heavy hair 
That was shaken out over my breast: 
There is enough evil in the crying of wind.

Authorship:

See other settings of this text.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "O chiurlo, più non gridare all'aria", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

First published in Savoy, November 1896, as one of Windlestraws, revised 1899 and 1906

Researcher for this text: David K. Smythe
Total word count: 197