by William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)
Translation © by Walter A. Aue

When you are old and gray and full of...
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER HUN ITA
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.

G. Bachlund sets stanzas 1-2
F. Bridge sets stanzas 1-2

About the headline (FAQ)

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.


Authorship

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
  • 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


Researcher for this text: Garth Baxter

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2017-10-11 12:39:24
Line count: 12
Word count: 100

Wenn Du alt bist
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
Wenn alt Du bist und grau, und voll von Schlaf,
und nickst bei dem Kamin, nimm vom Regal
dies Buch und lies und träume, wie einmal
Dein Auge sanft aus tiefem Schatten traf:

Wie viele liebten solcher Günste Blick
und Deine Schönheit, ehrlich oder nicht;
doch Deine Pilgerseel' und spät' Gesicht
hat einer nur geliebt im Mißgeschick.

Und, niederbückend, nah der Scheiter Glut,
sprich traurig murmelnd dann, wie Lieb' entflohn
und, schreitend über Dir auf Gipfeln schon,
barg sein Gesicht in einer Sternenflut.

Authorship

  • Singable translation from English to German (Deutsch) copyright © 2010 by Walter A. Aue, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.

    Walter A. Aue.  Contact: waue (AT) dal (DOT) ca

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Based on

 

Text added to the website: 2010-03-26 00:00:00
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:03:37
Line count: 12
Word count: 83