Poetry As Song: Yesterday, When I Was Young

YESTERDAY, WHEN I WAS YOUNG

Yesterday, when I was young
The taste of life was sweet
Like rain upon my tongue
I teased at life as if
It were a foolish game
The way an evening breeze
Would tease a candle flame

The thousand dreams I dreamed
The splendid things I planned
I always built to last
On weak and shifting sand.
I lived by night and shunned
The naked light of day
And only now I see
How the years have ran away

Yesterday, when I was young
There were so many songs
That waited to be sung
So many wild pleasures
That lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled
Eyes refused to see

I ran so fast that time
And youth at last ran out
I never stopped to think
What life was all about
And every conversation
That I can recall
Concerns itself with me
And nothing else at all

Yesterday, the moon was blue
And every crazy day
Brought something new to do
And I used my magic age
As if it were a wand
And never saw the waste
And emptiness beyond

The game of love I played
With arrogance and pride
And every flame I lit
So quickly, quickly died
The friends I made all seemed
Somehow to drift away
And only I am left
On stage to end the play

Yesterday, when I was young
There were so many songs
That waited to be sung
So many wild pleasures
That lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled
Eyes refused to see

There are so many songs
In me that won’t be sung
I feel the bitter taste
Of tears upon my tongue
And the time has come for me
To pay for yesterday
When I was young.

–Herbert Kretzmer & Charles Aznavour

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