Tango Words



Fué un ensueño de dulce amor,
horas de dicha y de querer,
fué el poema de ayer,
que yo soñé,
de dorado color,
vanas quimeras del corazón,
no logrará descifrar jamás,
nido tan fugaz,
fue un ensueño de amor y adoración.

Cuando las flores de tu rosal,
vuelvan mas bellas a florecer,
recordarás mi querer,
y has de saber,
todo mi intenso mal.

De aquel poema embriagador,
ya nada queda entre los dos,
doy mi triste adiós,
sentiras la emoción,
de mi dolor…

A favourite at milongas is Francisco Canaro’s classic 1935 recording of the beautiful tango Poema: music by Mario Malfi, lyrics by Eduardo Bianco. The singer is Roberto Maida.

There are several translations of Bianco’s lyrics on the internet, but translating poetry or lyrics (especially tango lyrics) is fraught with difficulty.  Do you stick to the literal meanings, or do you go deeper and try to convey the feelings and emotions being expressed? And there’s the problem of rhyme and rhythm.

For me, direct translations rarely work as poems or lyrics. Vissarion Belinsky once commented, “To read a work in translation is like kissing a beautiful woman with a handkerchief over her face.” I am grateful to those who take the trouble to translate tango lyrics; they do give a flavour of the original. But to be true to the essence of the song or poem the translator must bring to it much of his own sensibility and that of the language he is translating into. Words and phrases do not mean the same in one language as they do in another.

See also https://tangowords.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/tango-poetry/

So these ramblings are really an excuse to proffer my own painfully produced version (‘version’, not ‘translation’):


It was a sweet dream of love,
hours of joy and hope.
Yesterday was a golden poem I dreamed,
a vain construction of my heart
that I can never rebuild.
So quickly lost are
our dreams of love.

When the roses in your garden flower again
you may remember my love,
and understand my sadness and my pain.

Of our intoxicating poem
nothing remains,
So accept my last goodbye
and for one moment
remember all the passion and the pain…

[The photograph above was taken at La Milonga del Quinto Sabado, Nottingham, 31 March 2013.]