poesía de gotán:

Milonga del 900 (1933)

Milonga of the 1900s
lyrics by Homero Manzi
music by Sebastián Piana

I like mismatched things
and I don’t walk on the sidewalk;
I wear a Massera porkpie hat [1]
and military boots on my feet.
I loved her because I loved her
and ‘cause of that I’m hurting now—
she’s left me and I don’t even know when,
don’t even know when she’ll come back.

Guitars say her name to me
when they play their songs,
so do the little neighborhood streets,
and the edge of my dagger.
The stars say her name to me
and so does the wind of the arrabal,
I don’t know why they say her name
’cause I can’t just forget her…

[1] Massera was a brand of dressy hats. Many thanks to tango scholar Oscar Himschoot for this information.
Orquesta Francisco Canaro, canta Ernesto Famá

(Spanish original after the jump)
Milonga del 900

Me gusta lo desparejo
y no voy por la vedera;
uso funghi a lo Massera,*
calzo bota militar.
La quise porque la quise
y por eso ando penando—
se me fue ya ni se cuando,
ni se cuando volverá.

Me la nombran las guitarras
cuando dicen su canción,
las callecitas del barrio,
y el filo de mi facón.
Me la nombran las estrellas
y el viento del arrabal;
no se pa’ que me la nombran
si no la puedo olvidar.

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.


9 thoughts on “Milonga del 900 (1933)

  1. One of the most beautiful slow Milongas that bring back memories of Carlos Gardel who liked to sing it often. This is also one of the best songs to learn the Milonga dance because it has the typical beat.

    Posted by Allen Klus | 06.30.2009, 3:04 AM
  2. Love that Milonga, to sing and to dance it! Tell me, what do you think why is it called “Milonga del 900”?!

    Posted by Debbie | 10.09.2012, 9:02 AM
  3. Love that milonga – to dance and to sing it. Thanks a lot for translation. Tell me, why do you think it’s called “milonga del 900”? 900 what?

    Posted by Debbie | 10.10.2012, 9:39 AM
  4. Hi, Derrick! I’m from La Plata (capital of Buenos Aires province). I’m glad that you’re spreading our beautiful tango and its best poetry.
    The lyrics of “Milonga del 900” are longer that what you have posted. Here are the lyrics missing:

    Soy desconfiao’ en amores,
    y soy confiao’ en el juego.
    Donde me invitan me quedo
    y donde sobro también.
    Soy del partido de todos
    y con todos me la entiendo,
    pero váyanlo sabiendo
    ¡soy hombre de Leandro Alem!

    No me gusta el empedrao’
    ni me doy con lo moderno.
    Descanso cuando ando enfermo
    y después que me he sanao’.
    La quiero porque la quiero
    y por eso la perdono.
    No hay nada peor que un encono
    para vivir amargao’.

    (let me know if you need english translation in some parts…)

    I suppose that many versions omit this second part because of the mention of Leandro Alem, leader of Union Civica Radical, a very influent party in Argentina those days… If these verses had been singed in times of Peron’s government, the tango could have had strong or dangerous connotation…


    Posted by Gabriela | 12.27.2014, 5:18 AM
    • Hi Gabriela,
      Thanks for your comment! So sorry it took so long to respond. Also, thank you for posting the rest of the lyrics to this lovely milonga. I was aware that there were more; sometimes I translate the full lyric, but often I’ve just put the lyrics that are sung by the estribillista in dance versions. I think that you’re quite correct about the later two verses being suppressed because of the reference to the UCR (for lurkers and readers who aren’t aware, President Hipólito Yrigoyen of the UCR was deposed in 1930 by a military coup led by General José Félix Uriburu).
      I hope you’ll comment in the future!
      Un abrazo,

      Posted by Derrick Del Pilar | 01.19.2015, 8:52 PM
    • I would be interested in your translation of these additional stanzas…. fascinating how the personal and political are interwoven… gracias.

      Posted by dante polichetti | 04.13.2016, 8:55 AM
      • Hi Dante,
        My plan for this summer is to go back and add the unsung verses for the songs where I didn’t include them (due to laziness at the time). Soon!
        Un abrazo,

        Posted by Derrick Del Pilar | 04.13.2016, 9:54 AM
      • I’ll do my best 😉

        I’m untrusting at love
        and trusting at gambling
        Where I’ve been invited I stay
        and where I’m left over, too
        I belong to the party of everyone
        and with everyone I get along
        But you’d better know
        that I’m a Leandro Alem man!

        I don’t like stone pavement
        nor get along with modern stuff
        I rest when I’m ill
        and also after I healed
        I loved her because I loved her
        and that’s why I forgive her
        There’s nothing worse than a spite
        to live embittered

        Let me know if you feel that some expressions are not quite correct in English 🙂
        I would like to recommend you all this website: http://www.todotango.com
        There you can find lyrics, biographies, recordings…


        Posted by Gabriela | 04.13.2016, 8:16 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, in meticulously digitized versions from http://www.tangotunes.com/ and others can be found on the iTunes music store or Amazon (transfer quality varies widely). Though he no longer has inventory available, Michael Lavocah's superb http://milonga.co.uk/ can help you determine which CDs might be best to buy used.
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