by Alfred Edward Housman (1859 - 1936)
Translation © by Patricia Dillard Eguchi

When I was one‑and‑twenty
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER HEB
When I was one-and-twenty
 I heard [a wise man]1 say,
"Give crowns and pounds and guineas
 But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
 But keep your fancy free."
But I was one-and-twenty,
 No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
 I heard him say again,
"The heart out of the bosom
 Was never given in vain;
'Tis paid with sighs a plenty
 And sold for endless rue."
And I am two-and-twenty,
 And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Steele: "an old man"


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) (Patricia Dillard Eguchi) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , "Als ich war einundzwanzig", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • HEB Hebrew (עברית) (Max Mader) , "כאשר הייתי בן עשרים ואחת", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2015-11-02 11:26:06
Line count: 16
Word count: 82

Quand j’avais vingt‑et‑un an
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
Quand j’avais vingt-et-un an,
J’entendis un vieil homme dire :
« Donne des couronnes, tes livres et tes guinées,1
Mais pas ton cœur,
Donne perles et rubis,
Mais garde ta volonté libre »
Mais j’avais vingt-et-un ans,
Inutile de me parler.

Quand j’avais vingt-et-un ans,
Je l’entendis ajouter,
« Le cœur une fois donné,
N’est jamais donné en vain.
Il est payé avec bien des soupirs,
Et vendu avec des regrets infinis. »
Et j’ai vingt-deux ans,
Et comme c’est vrai, trop vrai.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)

Translations of title(s):
"Heart wounds" = "Plaies du cœur"
"When I was one and twenty" = "Quand j’avais vingt-et-un ans"

1 Pièces de monnaie anglaises


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2018 by Patricia Dillard Eguchi, (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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Text added to the website: 2018-08-21 00:00:00
Last modified: 2018-08-21 06:02:00
Line count: 16
Word count: 83