Van Morrison's treatment of a W.B. Yeats poem entitled "A Woman Young and Old" (originally published in "The Winding Stair and Other Poems", 1933) is entitled "Before the World Was Made." It's on his "Too Long in Exile" album, 1993. This is a truly transcendental work, but the album as a whole is one of those efforts that Van could have waited on and extracted the best parts to put together a complete masterpiece. Unfortunately, this is not how he chooses to work.

Here's the original poem. You can listen to the song and see the minor twists Van puts on it. Suffice it to say that he makes it his own work while being quite true to the original.

If I make the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be right
From mirror after mirror,
No vanity's displayed:
I'm looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.

What if I look upon a man
As though upon my beloved,
And my blood be cold the while
And my heart unmoved?
Why should he think me cruel
Or that he is betrayed?

I'd have him love the thing that was
Before the world was made.

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