poesía de gotán:

Mandria (1926)

lyrics by Francisco Brancatti y Juan Velich

Take my poncho—don’t flinch!
I’ll even loan you my knife,
pick, and in the venue that you choose, sir,
I must show up and surely
I won’t have bad form.

And me, with the lash of my riding crop
I’ve got plenty to cover myself…
I’ve never been a wuss, this I can swear.
And there’s no tight spot
where I’d ever wimp out!

That’s my trademark and it’s held me back—
Why should I fight a wretched man?
Go with her, the coward!
Tell her that it’s late,
but I’ve made my claim.

Orquesta Juan D’Arienzo, singer Alberto Echagüe

(Spanish original after the jump)


Tome mi poncho—¡no se aflija!
Si hasta el cuchillo se lo presto,
cite, que en la cancha que usté elija
he de dir y en fija
no pondré mal gesto.

Yo con el cabo é mi rebenque
tengo é sobra pá cobrarme…
nunca he sido un maula, ¡se lo juro!
y en ningún apuro
me sabré achicar.

Esta es mi marca y me ha sujeto—
¿Pa’ qué pelear a un hombre mandria?
¡váyase con ella, la cobarde!
Dígale que es tarde,
pero me cobré.

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 “Mandria (1926)

  1. When the DJ played a D’Arienzo/Echague tanda last night, I was hoping that Mandria was included, but it wasn’t. You made sense of these lyrics for me, and I wanted to dance as never before with an understanding of them.

    I’m glad you’re back to translating after vacation.

    Posted by jantango | 09.07.2009, 4:31 PM
  2. Gauchismo!

    Posted by Allen Klus | 09.22.2009, 5:20 AM
  3. This was my granpa fauvorite tango! what can I say? Master D’arienzo, how much we owe You…

    Posted by Mandria | 10.13.2011, 8:50 AM
  4. Congratulations on another wonderful translation! There’s is another great recording of this song by D’Arienzo, with Mario Bustos, that has extra lyrics. Would it be possible to translate these too?

    Cf. http://www.todotango.com/english/las_obras/letra.aspx?idletra=80
    or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vo079oSbZQ.

    Posted by Aad de Danser | 12.15.2011, 3:09 AM
    • Take my poncho—no problem!
I’ll even loan you my knife,

      and, by the way, in the place you choose
I’ll be and it will be your life.

      And me, with the lash of my crop
there will be no problem…
I’ve never been a pussy, I swear!

      And there is no tight spot,

      I’ve never been a twat.

      From the woman, believe me, I sought no problem
      It’s the act of a man shaking fruit from my tree
      and its the evil that makes me suffer what I see

      I came to die or I came to kill
      I came to fight and the thief, he must fulfill

      So find a shovel,
      I have a good arm and I’m prepared…
      A cheap grab is always paid for in the end
      and this asshole won’t be spared

      That’s my mark, I carry it every day—

      With such a wretched man why should I play?

      Go with her, the coward! You’re both the same

      Tell her that it’s late, but I’ve made my claim.


      Posted by Lorenzo Miercoles | 01.27.2012, 7:49 AM
  5. Good stuff.

    Looks like you may have copied the typo on TodoTango. Instead of “he de dir”, it’s almost certainly “he de ir”, as on http://www.tangoletras.com.ar/letra-de-mandria-5001

    Posted by Matthew Zadrozny | 09.12.2016, 6:54 AM
    • Thanks for the kind words, and good eye!
      TodoTango actually didn’t make that typo–that extra “d” before “ir” is included in the original sheet music (as can be seen here).
      In fact, I don’t believe that it’s a typo at all–just one more instance of the “sound-spelling” of the gaucho character’s non-standard, rustic dialect.
      Of course, one might wonder: If this guy is dropping his d’s everywhere else, why does one appear out of nowhere here? The cheeky TL;DR answer is: the missing “d” from “usted” and all the “de”‘s had to go somewhere! The real answer is below and requires a bit of descriptive linguistics (specifically, phonetics).
      This phenomenon is called epenthesis, and it’s very common cross-linguistically. Basically, epenthesis happens in colloquial speech when speakers insert sounds that are not present, either phonetically or orthographically, in the standard form of the language. A classic example in English is the linking or intrusive “R” that some speakers insert at word boundaries between vowels. Take for example a British speaker (even a highly educated one who speaks very close to the Received Pronunciation or “BBC English”) who would not pronounce the “r” at the end of the word doctor when saying “the Doctor will see you now.” This same speaker will almost certainly pronounce the “r” if the next word begins with a vowel, as in “the Doctor is in.” And this same speaker may often insert a “linking R” at the end of words that have no “r” at all, when the next word begins with a vowel: “Victoria(r) and Albert” “Diana(r) and I.” From a prescriptive point of view, this is of course considered incorrect, and thus this pronunciation is often stigmatized–but nevertheless speakers of all social classes often use it.
      In Spanish, the epenthetic sound is often a vowel–take for example the pronunciation of a stereotypical Spanish speaker trying to say “stereotypical Spanish speaker” in English. They will often pronounce it as “(e)stereotypical (e)Spanish (e)speaker” because those consonant clusters are simply not allowed at the beginning of words in Spanish.
      Here, however, the epenthetic sound is a consonant, breaking up two consecutive vowels. This is very uncommon in Spanish, because comparatively few words begin with a stressed vowel sound. But of course, the verb “ir” does.
      So that’s my best guess as to why it’s spelled that way in the sheet music. Given that the lyrics include other non-standard spellings to represent dialectal pronunciations, I would imagine that whoever typeset the original sheet music was paying attention to the words, and that the “d” in “dir” is meant to represent a spoken feature of a rural gaucho’s dialect (just as in a Country Western song, the word “wash” might be spelled and pronounced “warsh”). Hence, why I chose to include it in my transcription. In fact, I’ll go back and emend the Spanish version to omit the dropped “d’s” from the original sheet music, which I left out before.

      Posted by Derrick Del Pilar | 09.12.2016, 12:14 PM


  1. Pingback: D’Arienzo #2: Late ’30s Vocals with Alberto Echagüe « DDP's Favorite Tandas - 10.25.2011

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