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Tinta roja (1941)

Red Ink
lyrics by Cátulo Castillo
music by Sebastián Piana

A big stone wall, [1]
red ink over yesterday’s grey,
the emotion
of your happy bricks
over my little alleyway
took a blot
and painted the corner
and that copper [2]
who in the depths of night
walked the borders of his beat
like a badge…

And that lipstick-red mailbox
and the corner bar
where the Italian used to cry
over his distant blonde lover,
soaking himself in bon vin. [3]

What has become of my arrabal?
Who has stolen my childhood?
On what corner, moon of mine,
do you spill out your clear joy
like you used to?

Sidewalks that I have tread,
gangsters that are gone now—
under your cloudless satin sky
a little piece of my heart
whiles the night away.

[1] A paredón can be a big wall, a thick wall, a ruined stone wall, or the wall where the condemned are placed to face the firing squad.
[2] The slang word here for “policeman” is “botón,” a reference to the long row of buttons running down the front of their uniforms.
[3] I have preserved the French phrase “bon vin,” meaning “good wine,” from the original.

Orquesta Aníbal Troilo, singer Francisco Fiorentino

(Spanish original after the jump)

Tinta roja

Paredón,
tinta roja en el gris del ayer,
tu emoción
de ladrillo feliz
sobre mi callejón
con un borrón
pintó la esquina
y al botón
que en el ancho de la noche
puso al filo de la ronda
como un broche…

Y aquel buzón carmín,
y aquel fondín
donde lloraba el tano
su rubio amor lejano
que mojaba con bon vin.

¿Dónde estará mi arrabal?
¿Quién se robó mi niñez?
¿En qué rincón, luna mía,
volcás como entonces
tu clara alegría?

Veredas que yo pisé,
malevos que ya no son—
bajo tu cielo de raso
trasnocha un pedazo
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

7 thoughts on “Tinta roja (1941)

  1. Troilo’s birthday is July 11th and I’m doing an all Troilo practica that day in his honor. I will definitely feature the singing of Fiorentino! Troilo was very picky about the writers that he showcased and only choose the best like Catulo Castillo. Check out the later Troilo album Tinta Roja named after this song and sung by El Pollaco.

    Posted by Allen Klus | 06.30.2009, 2:59 AM
    • Great idea to have an all-Troilo practica on his birthday! I actually have all of Troilo’s recordings with Roberto “El Polaco” Goyeneche–haven’t been posting them though, because I’m trying to conserve bandwidth. They are wonderful to listen to, but you of course are very right–not ideal for dancing.

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 06.30.2009, 3:08 AM
    • This is a funny little piece, and unless I am mistaken meant to be satirical in tone, a kind of jibe at those who do meticulous line-by-line interpretations of tangos…

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 01.27.2012, 12:10 PM
      • I was ready to full for this ploy🙂 … well at least for its opening lines … it gets insufferable later with the topic of sexual meanings of buttons and brooches. The opening piece of this “Neo-semantics of tango” series, by esteemed Licentiate E. Rat-tat-tat, may be more transparent for the gullible foreigners like myself. It even starts with a sentence about the author’s specialty being absurdities, contradictions, and occult messages of tango.

        Posted by Dm | 01.28.2012, 7:21 AM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Troilo: More Classic Vocals with Fiorentino « DDP's Favorite Tandas - 12.24.2011

  2. Pingback: Tinta Roja – Troilo & Fiorentino – música tanguera - 07.15.2016

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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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