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Nada (1944)

Nothing
lyrics by Horacio Sanguinetti
music by José Dames

I’ve arrived at your house—
I don’t know how I’ve managed to,
since they’ve told me you’re not here,
that you will never return,
since they’ve told me that you’re gone.

There’s so much snow in my soul,
such silence at your door!
When I arrived at the threshold
a bolt of sorrow
stopped my heart.

Nothing, nothing is left
in the house where you were born—
only cobwebs woven by the weeds
The rosebush is also gone,
surely it died when you left—
everything is a burden!

Nothing, nothing more than sadness and silence,
no one who can tell me if you’re still alive.
Where are you?
I want to tell you that I’ve returned, repentant,
to seek your love.

Orquesta Carlos Di Sarli, singer Alberto Podestá 
(1944)

Orquesta Miguel Caló, singer Raúl Iriarte (1944)

Orquesta Rodolfo Biagi, singer Alberto Amor (1944)

(Spanish original after the jump)

Nada

He llegado hasta tu casa—
¡yo no sé cómo he podido!
Si me han dicho que no estás,
que ya nunca volverás,
si me han dicho que te has ido.

¡Cuánta nieve hay en mi alma!
¡Qué silencio hay en tu puerta!
Al llegar hasta el umbral,
un candado de dolor
me detuvo el corazón.

Nada, nada queda
en tu casa natal
sólo telarañas que teje el yuyal.
El rosal tampoco existe
y es seguro que se ha muerto al irte tú…
¡Todo es una cruz!

Nada, nada más que tristeza y quietud,
nadie que me diga si vives aún…
¿Dónde estás, para decirte
que hoy he vuelto arrepentido
a buscar tu amor?

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

9 thoughts on “Nada (1944)

  1. muchisimas gracias por este site…it hurts my heart to know the EXACT palabras/translations of some of my favorite Podesta tangos…I will NUNCA dance to them in the same way again…thank you, this is a gift to us all.

    Posted by deb | 06.05.2009, 11:46 PM
    • Deb,
      You are VERY welcome. Just knowing that the translations help the poetry of these immortal lyricists reach a few more people makes it worth all the work. Check back soon, I’m working on a few more of the Di Sarli/Podestá classics—”Lloran las campanas” and “La capilla blanca,” specifically.
      Un abrazo fuerte,
      Derrick

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 06.06.2009, 5:06 AM
  2. This is my favorite song. Every version of it that I’ve heard (Di Sarli/Podestá, Caló/Iriarte, Biagi/Amor, Julio Sosa). Thanks a lot for the great effort you put to sharing the poetry of tango with the English speakers in the community. A rather minor correction, though, in the lyrics, if I may:
    I believe the 2nd and 3rd line of the first verse should say:
    Si me han dicho que no estás, que ya nunca volverás,
    si me han dicho que te has ido.
    rather than sí (the difference being sí = yes, si = if), so it would directly translate to “if they’ve told me that you’re not here, that you’ll never return, if they’ve told me that you’ve left”. so with the context of the first line, my translation would be something like:
    “I’ve arrived at your house… I don’t know how I did it if they’ve told me that you’re not here, that you’ll never return; if they’ve told me that you’ve left”. I realize the sentence is very grammatically awkward… but I feel it’s closer to the original Spanish. Yeah, translating is a pain…
    Anyway, I occasionally translate songs in my blog too, stop by some time. Of course, I won’t mind you correcting me

    Posted by Jaimito | 05.10.2010, 3:59 PM
    • Hi Jaimito,
      I love this tango too🙂.
      I actually had the version you had as one of my drafts—funny how much can hinge on an accent mark, no? Here’s why I ultimately decided to interpret it as “yes,” rather than “if.”
      This is todotango’s version of the lyrics: http://www.todotango.com/spanish/las_obras/letra.aspx?idletra=659, sin acento en la “i” como la interpretás vos😉.
      Sometimes, however, I don’t agree with their punctuation, and sometimes, they forget accent marks. They seem to like exclamation marks quite a bit, though in this song I have kept them. I don’t have access to copies of the original partituras, so I can’t see how the lyricists themselves punctuated and accented the songs. Of course, sometimes it’s easy to tell…if Todotango types it in as “todo, todo acabo” it’s usually pretty obvious when it should be “todo, todo acabó.”
      When making an editorial decision like that, I then go directly to the songs themselves—specifically, of course, the versions most often played in milongas. At the milongas I have been to, Di Sarli/Podestá tops the list, followed by Caló/Iriarte, lastly Biagi/Amor.
      The phrasing of the melody is such that the word “podido” is held out on a long note, after which the singers take a breath. Since for most of the rest of the song, the ends of melodic phrases correspond to full stops (“.” “!” or “?”) in the sentences, I have always “heard” a period right after “podido.” It never even occurred to me that the “si/sí…” clause could be a dependent clause linked to the previous one!
      I’m glad you caught that detail—I’ll put an asterisk in the lyrics so visitors can see your version🙂.
      Ultimately, neither interpretation really changes the meaning of the lyrics—the singer is still amazed that he’s been able to make it to her house, even though everyone has told him she’s not there, she’ll never return, she’s gone.

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 05.10.2010, 5:32 PM
    • Great site. Great ideas.
      However on the lines: si me han dicho que no estas , que ya nunca volveras , si me han dicho que te has ido
      the translaction should be “even” in place of “yes” or “if” because the poem implies that he is returning to her house even after being told that she is not there anymore.

      Posted by Oscar Moreno | 11.28.2012, 12:55 PM
  3. This is great!
    Can I add that the correct translation for:
    solo telarañas que teje el yuyal
    would be:
    only cobwebs that weaves the weeds

    Posted by nicolas | 01.20.2012, 9:18 AM
    • Hola Nicolas,
      I’m glad you like the translation🙂.
      However, I must disagree that the “correct” translation for “solo telarañas que teje el yuyal” is “only cobwebs that weaves the weeds.”
      In the first place, translators don’t like to talk about “correct” translations. I’ve already written a page or two on that subject.
      Your translation is very literal and word by word; however, in English, for the verb “to weave” to agree with things in the plural (cobwebs and weeds) we need to get rid of the final “s,” so the literal translation would be “only cobwebs that weave the weeds.”
      However, since English is morphologically less complex than Spanish, the only thing that tells us which noun (the cobwebs or the weeds) is doing the weaving is word order. In Spanish of course, we know that “teje” must agree with “el yuyal” and not “telarañas” because it is singular. But in English, the phrase “only cobwebs that weave the weeds” can only mean “solo telarañas que tejeN el yuyal,” because word order determines the subject-verb-object relationship. In order to understand it in the same way as Spanish, then, the most correct literal translation should be, “only cobwebs that the weeds weave.”
      But then we get two stressed syllables in a row, and that sounds ugly (especially when the syllables are “wee wee” which is an English euphemism for…manly parts). So, I decided to put the construction in the passive voice (“woven by the weeds”), which means the same thing and has a better sound in English.
      Abrazos,
      DDP

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 01.20.2012, 1:01 PM
  4. what would you put with it for a tanda?

    Posted by TangoReplicantNexus6 | 02.21.2012, 1:48 AM

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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 Michael Lavocah's superb http://milonga.co.uk/.

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