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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Fifty Years

By Pierre Jean de Béranger (1780–1857)

(Cinquante Ans)

Translation of Walter Learned

WHEREFORE these flowers? floral applause?

Ah, no, these blossoms came to say

That I am growing old, because

I number fifty years to-day.

O rapid, ever-fleeting day!

O moments lost, I know not how!

O wrinkled cheek and hair grown gray!

Alas, for I am fifty now!

Sad age, when we pursue no more—

Fruit dies upon the withering tree:

Hark! some one rapped upon my door.

Nay, open not. ’Tis not for me—

Or else the doctor calls. Not yet

Must I expect his studious bow.

Once I’d have called, “Come in, Lizzette”—

Alas, for I am fifty now!

In age what aches and pains abound:

The torturing gout racks us awhile;

Blindness, a prison dark, profound;

Or deafness that provokes a smile.

Then Reason’s lamp grows faint and dim

With flickering ray. Children, allow

Old Age the honor due to him—

Alas, for I am fifty now!

Ah, heaven! the voice of Death I know,

Who rubs his hands in joyous mood;

The sexton knocks and I must go—

Farewell, my friends the human brood!

Below are famine, plague, and strife;

Above, new heavens my soul endow:

Since God remains, begin, new life!

Alas, for I am fifty now!

But no, ’tis you, sweetheart, whose youth,

Tempting my soul with dainty ways,

Shall hide from it the sombre truth,

This incubus of evil days.

Springtime is yours, and flowers; come then,

Scatter your roses on my brow,

And let me dream of youth again—

Alas, for I am fifty now!