The Old Familiar Faces

I have had playmates, I have had companions,
In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days,
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have been laughing, I have been carousing,
Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies,
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I loved a love once, fairest among women;
Closed are her doors on me, I must not see her —
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man;
Like an ingrate, I left my friend abruptly;
Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.

Ghost-like, I paced round the haunts of my childhood.
Earth seemed a desart I was bound to traverse,
Seeking to find the old familiar faces.

Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,
Why wert not thou born in my father’s dwelling?
So might we talk of the old familiar faces —

How some they have died, and some they have left me,
And some are taken from me; all are departed;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

by Charles Lamb (1775-1834).


4 Responses to “The Old Familiar Faces”

  1. I’m not familiar with Charles Lamb but I assume that John Lennon was when he wrote In My Life. The rivers of influence are wide, deep and long.

    • I don’t know. (I have read Philip Norman’s biography of John Lennon (and bought yesterday his equally huge biography of Mick Jagger, together with Quantum Man (a Feynman biography) by Lawrence Krauss, The Book of Universes by John D. Barrow (the famous writer) and Who I Am by Pete Townshend (also a huge tome)) but I don’t recall him mentioning whether Lennon had read Lamb. However, this is a common sentiment, so it would not be surprising if this is a case of convergent evolution, so to speak, rather than influence or common origin. By the way, I really like the piano part and, reading up on it in Wikipedia, find that the entire article is quite interesting. Apparently, it ranks high in many lists of favourites and has been covered by quite a few people, including Sean Connery.

  2. One of my favourite songs too. I note that The Old Familiar Faces was in Palgraves Golden Treasury which was the mainstay of many english literature lessons in the 1950’s and before. I’d imagine Lennon studied it at school, forgot all about it and ten years later it pops out again, remixed as it were for the twentieth century.

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