The first to put the poem into music was the same Yeats on a melody composed by Eugène Arnold Dolmetsch: in 1907 he published his essay ‘Speaking to the Psaltery’ in which the poem is recited bardically, sung with the accompaniment of the psaltery; Yeats wrote about the melody of ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’: “ taken down by Mr. Arnold Dolmetsch from myself,’
Burt Ives with the title The Wandering of Old Angus in ‘Burl Ives: Songs of Ireland‘ Decca DL 8444 (ca. 1954) in the liner notes the Yeats melody is credited (‘Burl Ives learned to chant this William Butler Yeats poem from the late actress Sara Allgood.’) a cappella
Judy Collins with the title ‘Golden Apples of the Sun’ – Golden Apples of the Sun 1962. “Learned from the singing of Will Holt, this stunning song is a musical setting of a W. B. Yeats poem ‘The Song of the Wandering Angus’. The haunting melody is probably the composition of Richard Dyer-Bennet. It is not a folk song, it tends to be an art song. It has a traditional feeling about it; the repetitiveness gives you the impression of an incantation, which the poem does too. Of her learning it I had heard the song almost two years ago. When I heard Will Holt sing it late one night at the Gate of Horn, I was greatly impressed, and determined to learn it. Will sang it for me a number of times, and even gave me a tape of it. I lived with the Golden Apples of the Sun almost a year-and-a-half before I ever sang it, and then it burst out one day – almost of its own accord – while I was visiting friends. It took me a long time to assimilate it, but now it’s part of me. I feel that the song has something to do with what people want – what they don’t have – and sometimes the desire for these things is almost as satisfying as the getting.'” Collins sings it dreamily with a touch of melancholy and the accompaniment of the acoustic guitar.
Donovan from H. M. S. 1971 The melody is by him
Richie Havens from “Mixed Bag II” 1974 with his very personal way of playing the guitar, in a remake of Donovan’s piece
Christy Moore from “Ride On” 1986
“I was backstage at Woodstock talking to Jimi when Richie ambled past and hearing my Kildare accent enquired about Aongus and the origin. I told him about Brother Lazerian trying to teach us the beauty of Yeats til it was time for Richie to go on. I heard a rumour that Judy Collins wrote the tune but I got a horrid bollockin in Coolara House one night for suggesting same. Apparently twas Queen Maeve herself that wrote the tune for this one and taught it to Joe Dowd in a dream one night.” (cf)
Paul Winter & Karen Casey from Celtic Solstice 1999
Jolie Holland in Catalpa 2003 American songwriter who combines American folk with country
Waterboys from “An Appointment with Mr Yeats” 2011
an almost spoken version of Mick Scott that closes with the dreamy melody of the flute, like a gust of wind
Eoin O’Brien & Darragh Keary 2013
Robert Lawrence & Jill Greene (music by Jill Diana Greene) 2016
Aengus il vagabondo
Angelo Branduardi from “Branduardi canta Yeats” 1986 music by Donovan, text-poetic translation by Luisa Zappa
|Fu così che al bosco andai,
chè un fuoco in capo mi sentivo,
un ramo di nocciolo io tagliai
ed una bacca appesi al filo.
Bianche falene vennero volando,
e poi le stelle luccicando,
la bacca nella corrente lanciai
e pescai una piccola trota d’argento.
Quando a terra l’ebbi posata
per ravvivare il fuoco assopito,
qualcosa si mosse all’improvviso
e col mio nome mi chiamò.
|Una fanciulla era divenuta,
fiori di melo nei capelli,
per nome mi chiamò e svanì
nello splendore dell’aria
Sono invecchiato vagabondando
per vallate e per colline,
ma saprò alla fine dove e`andata,
la bacerò e la prenderò per mano;
cammineremo tra l’erba variegata,
sino alla fine dei tempi coglieremo
le mele d’argento della luna,
le mele d’oro del sole.