Four Views of Love

Song Cycle by Garth Baxter (b. 1946)

1. When you are old [sung text checked 1 time]

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.

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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
  • 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

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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. Let it be you [sung text checked 1 time]

Let it be you who lean above me 
On my last day,
Let it be you who shut my eyelids 
Forever and aye.
Say a "Goodnight" as you have said it
All of these years,
With the old look, with the old whisper 
And without tears.
You will know then all that in silence 
You always knew,
Though I have loved, I loved no other
As I loved you.

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Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Garth Baxter , Paul Ezust [Guest Editor]

3. Let it be forgotten [sung text checked 1 time]

Let it be forgotten as a flower is forgotten,
Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold.
Let it be forgotten forever and ever.
Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.

If anyone [asks]1, say it was forgotten,
Long and long ago.
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed foot-fall
In a long forgotten snow.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Qu'il soit oublié", copyright © 2022, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 Mills: "should ask"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. A thunderstorm in town [sung text checked 1 time]

She wore a new "terra cotta" dress,
And we stayed because of the pelting storm,
Within the hansom's dry recess,
Though the horse had stopped; yea, motionless
                   We sat on, snug and warm.

Then the downpour ceased, to my sharp sad pain
And the glass that had screened our forms before
Flew up, and out she sprang to her door:
I should have kissed her if the rain
                   Had lasted a minute more.

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Researcher for this text: Garth Baxter
Total word count: 303