“When You Are Old” — Song for Mezzo-soprano and Piano

This beautiful poem by William Butler Yeats was brought to me by my friend Tami Papagiannopoulos. This song was written for and dedicated to her. It is performed here by Tami (mezzo-soprano) and Allison Peden on piano.

When you are old and grey 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.

-W. B. Yeats

Program Note:

“When you are old” sets the melancholic scene of Yeats extraordinary poem with an endless yearning motive. The ternary form is suggested by the poem. The music of the outer sections surround us, like the mournful text and lonely fireside setting surrounds the speaker. The music of the middle section comes from the speakers own mind and is static yet persistent like a ubiquitous memory.


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