Monday, February 16, 2015

Tango lyrics: Dangers in not knowing a few songs

Cupid cries over a bag of gold;
a man pines over his tragic loss.
...also in German

Perhaps there is some beauty in just listening to the music when you don't speak Spanish.  But I am sure that you will be convinced by this post that knowing the lyrics of at least a few tangos can be very important, especially the lyrics for a song you might want to perform or use for a special occasion, such as a wedding.

Biagi's interpretation of "La Marcha Nupcial" (the Wedding March) is an excellent example!   I know.  I just was married, and the majority of guests were from the tango community.  Sure, it was tempting to play "La Marcha Nupcial" at our milonga/reception after exiting a wedding palace in Strasbourg, France. However, this tango's lyrics would have created an ironic backdrop--once you know the meaning of the words (given in English below).

The story in "La Marcha Nupcial" is the painful drama of man of humble means, watching his lover marry a rich man.  He hears the Wedding March as she leaves in a regal procession out of the cathedral.  The whole scene is his love-tragedy, the first chapter in his book of painful, unrequited love.  Perhaps this is not the best thing to play at your wedding?  My translation follows:

La Marcha Nupcial (The Wedding March)

by Venancio Clausio – Armando Tagini (1932)

I watched as you left the cathedral with your flamboyant husband,
enveloped by the strains of the Wedding March.
An aura of joy emanated from your countenance,
carrying yourself as if in a royal procession ...
Voices surrounded me with affirmations of your beauty.
I feel my emotions stabbing into my heart ...
my head--swept up in a whirlwind,
my heart--pounding in its anguish!

Dear Precious Times, you're in the distance!

So many dreams! So many oaths!
I hear echoes of her voice, her laughter,
I still sense her fragrance...

Mere sandcastles, all windswept before me!

I was poor ... inebriated by the romantic moon above us ...

All I could offer you was my feather-light tenderness.
But tenderness could not balance out on the scale your beauty.
His money could! The perfect counterweight.

The painful drama still plays its verse in my head,
my ears still hear the strains of the Wedding March,
as I watch Cupid, crying over a bag of gold,
and my soul watches as my sentimental faith fades away.

Note #1: The original lyrics in Spanish have the reference to Cupid crying on a bag of gold at the start of the poem, but Biagi's rendition saves this for last.  (Look carefully at the artwork on the sheet music, showing Cupid at the bottom.)  Also, the version above drops the last verse of the original.

Note #2:  I recommend this resource for translated lyrics:  Poesía de gotán: The Poetry of the Tango. Since Derrick del Pilar, the tango lyric translation on this blog has not yet translated "La Marcha Nupcial," I was forced to do it myself for this post.

Photo Credits:  

  • Top right is a thumbnail of the front cover of sheet music, selling on Ebay.
  • 78 rpm record

Note the differences from the original in Biagi's rendition:

La Marcha Nupcial

Drama real es éste que en verso rememoro
Al oír los compases de la Marcha Nupcial,
Mientras Cupido llora sobre un bolsón de oro
Un alma ve esfumarse su fe sentimental.
Ensueños ahogados en torpe ambición...
Triunfo del oro sobre el corazón...!   [at the end, not the start]

Te vi salir del templo con tu flamante esposo
Envuelta en los acordes de la Marcha Nupcial,
Un resplandor de dicha te iluminaba el rostro
El porte de una reina lucías al andar...!
En mi redor las gentes comentaban tu belleza
Yo sentí mi herido pecho estrecharse de emoción,
Me daba vueltas la cabeza...
¡Y era la angustia del corazón!

¡Dulce tiempo que estás a la distancia!
¡Cuántas ilusiones! ¡Cuántos juramentos!
Tus palabras, tus risas, tu fragancia...
¡Castillos de esperanzas barridos por el viento!
Yo era pobre... soñador... ebrio de luna...
¡No pude ofrecerte más bien que mi ternura!
Vos echaste a una balanza tu hermosura
Y el dinero del otro pesó más...!

En lágrimas secretas se ahogan mis reproches   [Was this too dark?  It's missing.]
Oyendo el homenaje de la Marcha Nupcial,
Miré partir tu coche, que se perdió en la noche
Y huí... con mi doliente... profunda soledad...
El eco de la Marcha se adentró hasta lo más hondo
De mi ser... Y aquella noche –febril noche de obsesión-
Sonó con ritmo de responso
Sobre el cadáver de mi ilusión...!

Letra : Armando J. Tagini  (Armando José María Tagini)
Música : Juan V. Clauso  (Venancio Juan Pedro Clauso)

Grabado por la orquesta de Rodolfo Biagi con la voz de Jorge Ortiz.

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