Song of Wandering Aengus: W.B. Yeats

Some days, things just fall nicely in place. One day, I was in the mood for some fairy-tale fantasy when “Song of Wandering Aengus”, a poem by the famed English poet, William Butler, caught my attention while I was browsing the pages of an anthology. Yeat’s poem evokes vivid images of a fairy tale romantic encounter, albeit one with a rueful ending. Discovering this poem then led me to recall a romantic instrumental melody composed by Lorenna McKennitt, “Tango to Evora”, It didn’t take long before McKennitt’s tune was turned into a passionate ‘wandering song’ by the popular Greek singer Haris Alexiou.

The Song of Wandering Aengus by W.B. Yeats

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 aflame.
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 walked among the dappled grass,
and pluck till time and times are done.

Haris Alexiou sings To Tango Tis Nefelis (“Nefeli’s Tango”), a romantic mythological song about a nymph of clouds, Nefeli and two little angels who were dreaming of her and wanted to “feed her pomegranate and honey, so that she could not remember, so that she would forget what she wanted.” The song is set to the melody of Loreena McKennitt’s Tango To Evora (1991).

Lyrics for ‘Tango Tis Nefelis’ (Music: Lorenna McKennitt; Lyrics: Haris Alexiou)

Two little angels
came and stole
the golden rag
Nefeli used to wear on her head,
so as to differ from us all in the vineyard.

Two little angels
who were dreaming of Nefeli and wanted
to feed her pomegranate and honey,
so that she could not remember, so that she would forget what she wanted,
they managed to seduce her.

Hyacinths and lilies
robbed her of her scent and wear it
while flying love gods laugh at her,
throwing their arrows towards her.

But the benevolent Zeus
takes the adolescence water away from her,
turns her into a cloud and disperses her
so that they could not find her.

Listen: Haris Alexiou sings To Tango Tis Nefelis (“Nefeli’s Tango”)

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