by William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)
Translation © by Pierre Mathé

I heard the old, old men say
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE
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."

About the headline (FAQ)

First published in Pall Mall Magazine, January 1903

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


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

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2004-08-04
Line count: 9
Word count: 48

J'entendais les vieux, vieux hommes dire
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
J'entendais les vieux, vieux hommes dire
« Tout se dégrade,
Et un à un nous diminuons. »
Ils avaient des mains comme des griffes, et leurs genoux
Étaient tors comme les vieilles aubépines
Au bord de l'eau.
J'entendais les vieux vieux hommes dire
« Tout ce qui est beau part à la dérive,
Comme les eaux. »

About the headline (FAQ)

Translation of title "The old men admiring themselves in the water" = "Les vieux hommes s'admirant dans l'eau"


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2016 by Pierre Mathé, (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.

Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2016-01-04
Line count: 9
Word count: 57