Growing Gray


Growing Gray - (2012)    

Paul Laurence Dunbar

for medium voice and piano

for myself

Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray,
An' it beats ole Ned to see the way
'At the crow's feet's a-getherin' aroun' yore eyes;
Tho' it oughtn't to cause me no su'prise,
Fur there's many a sun 'at you've seen rise
An' many a one you've seen go down
Sence yore step was light an' yore hair was brown,
An' storms an' snows have had their way--
Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray.

Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray,
An' the youthful pranks 'at you ust to play
Are dreams of a far past long ago
That lie in a heart where the fires burn low--
That has lost the flame tho' it kept the glow,
An' spite of drivin' snow an' storm,
Beats bravely on forever warm.
December holds the place of May--
Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray.

Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray--
Who cares what the carpin' youngsters say?
For, after all, when the tale is told,
Love proves if a man is young or old!
Age cannot make the heart grow cold
When it does the will of an honest mind;
When it beats with love for all mankind;
An' the night but leads to a fairer day--
Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray!

4 pages, circa 4' 00"

Paul Laurence Dunbar


The text is found in Dunbar's collection, Majors and Minors (1895), available at the very fine Wright State University Libraries online Dunbar Collection. For other song settings of Dunbar's texts, click here.



Another of Dunbar's delicious dialect poems, this one was written while he was in his mid-twenties. About "growing gray" and an "ole man," it is obviously not biographical. But "for myself," as is the dedication written in the score, I make it such for me. Adapted from blues colors and a music hall style, the three strophes are handled in an A-A-A' form, some small episode, and changed accompaniment for the third verse and a final reflection completing the form. It is a hymn to aging, to growing gray and for this the range is limited to a single octave's span.



The score for Growing Gray is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


Growing Gray