Late Night Poetry: When You Are Old

As perhaps you know by now, we have a recurring feature here at The Skinny called¬†Late Night Poetry¬† (our motto: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Apparently, Since I’m Not Sleeping Much While I’m Alive).

Tonight’s edition is a twofer! The words of William Butler Yeats, married to the music of composer John Kelley. (Kelley’s setting of this poem is one of the yummiest songs I ever sang with the San Francisco Choral Artists when I was a member. It’s on a great recording of theirs called Music Among Friends. I tried mightily and failed to find a link to that version that you can hear, so this other version will have to do.)

When You Are Old

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 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.

– William Butler Yeats


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