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Volver (1935)

Returning
lyrics by Alfredo Le Pera, music by Carlos Gardel

I can make out the twinkling
of the lights that from afar
are marking my return—
the same ones whose pale reflections
used to bring illumination
to the deepest hours of my sorrow.

And even though I didn’t want to come back,
you always return to your first love,
the same old street where an echo told me
“Her life is yours, her love is yours,”
beneath the mocking gaze of the stars
that remain unmoved as they watch me return.

Returning
with wrinkles on my forehead—
the snows of time
have silvered my brow.

Feeling
that life is just a sigh,
that twenty years is nothing,
that my feverish gaze
adrift in the shadows
searches for you and cries out your name.

Living
with my soul bound
to a sweet memory
that makes me weep yet again.

I’m afraid of meeting
with the past, when it returns
to confront my life.
I’m afraid of the nights
brimming with memories
that enchain my dreams.

But the fleeing traveler
must sooner or later slow his pace.
And although forgetting destroys everything
and has killed my old dreams,
I have saved one hidden humble hope,
my heart’s only treasure.

Carlos Gardel

(Spanish original after the jump)

Volver

Yo adivino el parpadeo
de las luces que a lo lejos,
van marcando mi retorno—
son las mismas que alumbraron
con sus pálidos reflejos,
hondas horas de dolor.
Y aunque no quise el regreso,
siempre se vuelve al primer amor.
La vieja calle donde el eco dijo
“Tuya es su vida, tuyo es su querer,”
bajo el burlón mirar de las estrellas
que con indiferencia hoy me ven volver.

Volver,
con la frente marchita—
las nieves del tiempo
platearon mi sien.
Sentir,
que es un soplo la vida,
que veinte años no es nada,
que febril la mirada,
errante en las sombras,
te busca y te nombra.
Vivir,
con el alma aferrada
a un dulce recuerdo,
que lloro otra vez.

Tengo miedo del encuentro
con el pasado que vuelve
a enfrentarse con mi vida.
Tengo miedo de las noches
que, pobladas de recuerdos,
encadenen mi soñar.
Pero el viajero que huye,
tarde o temprano detiene su andar.
Y aunque el olvido que todo destruye,
haya matado mi vieja ilusión,
guardo escondida una esperanza humilde,
que es toda la fortuna de mi corazón.

About Derrick Del Pilar

Born and raised in Chicago, I came to the tango while studying at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires in 2006. In 2008 I earned my B.A. with majors in Creative Writing and Spanish & Portuguese from the University of Arizona, and in 2009 I earned an M.A. in Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. My specialty is the history & literature of early 20th century Argentina.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Volver (1935)

  1. This is actually a really thoughtful translation. The only thing that I would say is that the original lyric is

    “GUARDO escondida una esperanza humilde,”

    The lyrics on your page say “GUARDA escondida una esperanza humilde”

    You have the wrong person which of course changes the ending of the song.

    Using your idea: I have saved rather than it has saved

    Posted by Chris | 12.22.2011, 8:24 PM
  2. I forgot how much I love Tango! Thank you for reminding me!

    Posted by Gina Andrea | 10.09.2012, 8:16 PM
  3. Wonderful translation!

    Posted by Sara Adams | 02.17.2013, 4:34 PM

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The sound files on this site are included for illustrative purposes only. Those wishing to obtain high quality versions for their personal collections should purchase commercially available copies. If you can't get to a record store in Buenos Aires, a great many tangos are available, song by song, from http://www.tangotunes.com/ and others can be found on iTunes (transfer quality varies widely). Many CDs are available through online retailers such as http://milonga.co.uk/.
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