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The Song of Wandering Aengus

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The Song of Wandering Aengus

I first heard this song performed by Donovan in the 1960's . I have put it to a new setting.

The Song of Wandering Aengus is one of William Butler Yeats' most beautiful lyrics. It tells the story of a love fleetingly experienced and lost forever. The poem was inspired by Maud Gonne, a passionate young Irish revolutionary with whom Yeats fell hopelessly in love.

According to legend, Aengus was from the Tuatha De Dannan – the mythical people said to have conquered Ireland after defeating the native tribes of the Fir Bolg. He was considered a god of love, youth and beauty.The Song of Wandering Aengus first appeared in Yeats’ collection of poems, The Wind Among the Reeds, published in 1899. It was voted Ireland’s fourth most popular poem by readers of the Irish Times.
Musical adaptations

The most famous musical setting of the poem was by Travis Edmonson of the folk duo Bud & Travis. Edmonson titled the song "Golden Apples of the Sun", and it was released on the 1960 Bud & Travis album Naturally: Folk Songs for the Present. Their version has been covered, sometimes as "Golden Apples of the Sun" and sometimes as "The Song of Wandering Aengus", by artists including Judy Collins (on the album Golden Apples of the Sun, 1962), Terry Callier (on The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier, 1965), Dave Van Ronk (on No Dirty Names, 1966), Christy Moore (on Ride On, 1984), Karan Casey (on Songlines, 1997), Paul Winter (on Celtic Solstice, 1999), 10,000 Maniacs (on Twice Told Tales, 2015) and Tiny Ruins (on Hurtling Through, 2015).
British singer Donovan recorded his own musical setting of the poem on the 1971 children's album HMS Donovan.
British-Irish band The Waterboys recorded their own musical adaptation of "The Song of Wandering Aengus" on the 2011 Yeats-themed album An Appointment with Mr Yeats.


The Song of Wandering Aengus
W. B. Yeats - 1865-1939

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.