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When You and I Were Young, Maggie - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

In the early 1860s a young Canadian school teacher, George Washington Johnson, fell in love with his pupil, Margaret Clark.  They married in 1864; Margaret - 'Maggie' - was already seriously ill with tuberculosis, and was to die the following year at the age of twenty-three.  During her illness, Johnson composed his poem, 'When You and I Were Young, Maggie'.  And after his Maggie's death, James Austin Butterfield, a Britain living in the United States, set the poem to music.  Over a hundred years later, in the 1980s, the song was a hit in the U.K. charts for an Irish act, Foster and Allen.  In the years since its composition, 'When You and I Were Young, Maggie' has become a standard, performed by operatic tenors, folk singers, jazzmen and crooners.

Chords

Capo at 5th Fret


   D                   D7             G

I wandered today to the hill, Maggie,

      D                             A         A7
To watch the scene below -


       
D                     D7           G
The creek and the rusty old mill, Maggie

                  D              A7                D        D7
Where we sat in the long, long ago.

        G                                               D     Bm

The green grove is gone from the hill, Maggie,

             A            E7        A             A7
Where first the daisies sprung;

        D             D7               G
The old rusty mill is still, Maggie,


D                      A7          D
Since you and I    were young.





         D              D7              G

They say I am feeble with age, Maggie,

       D                                              A           A7
My steps are less sprightly than then,


       
D          D7                 G
My face is a well written page, Maggie,

       D       A7                   D        D7
But time alone was the pen.

         G                                  D       Bm

They say we are aged and grey, Maggie,

      A                   E7                      A             A7
As spray by the white breakers flung,

            D                     D7             G
But to me you're as fair as you were, Maggie,


           D            A7          D
When you and I    were young.

Lyrics

The second verse, below, is not often sung, but I have included it for good measure:

I wandered today to the hill, Maggie,
To watch the scene below -
The creek and the rusty old mill, Maggie
Where we sat in the long, long ago.
The green grove is gone from the hill, Maggie,
Where first the daisies sprung;
The old rusty mill is still, Maggie,
Since you and I were young.

A city so silent and lone, Maggie,
Where the young and the gay and the best
In polished white mansion of stone, Maggie,
Have each found a place of rest,
Is built where the birds used to play, Maggie,
And join in the songs that were sung,
For we sang just as gay as they, Maggie,
When you and I were young.

They say I am feeble with age, Maggie,
My steps are less sprightly than then,
My face is a well written page, Maggie,
But time alone was the pen.
They say we are aged and grey, Maggie,
As spray by the white breakers flung,
But to me you're as fair as you were, Maggie,
When you and I were young.

Other Canadian Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs