poesía de gotán:

El adiós (1937)

The Farewell
lyrics by Virgilio San Clemente
music by Maruja (María Esther) Pacheco Huergo

In vain my soul
in a hushed voice
spilled its pain out into the night…
only a deep, profound silence
wept in my heart.

On an afternoon that was dying in shadows,
we bid each other a good-natured farewell;
you didn’t see my profound sadness
and as you left we both were smiling…
and then desolation, watching as you left,
broke my poor voice with its emotion,
and the happiest dream died in the farewell
and the sky grew dark for me.

Over the time that has transpired
you always live in me,
and these fields that saw us
smiling together
ask me if forgetting
has cured me of you.
And into the winds
go my laments
dying in echoes
searching for you…
while far away
other arms and other kisses
take you prisoner and tell me
that now you never need return.

Orquesta Edgardo Donato, singer Horacio Lagos

Orquesta Francisco Canaro, singer Roberto Maida

Ángel Vargas and his orquesta (conducted by Armando Lacava)

The italicized verses do not appear in the Donato version. The second does not appear in the Canaro version, and the order of the three is different in the Vargas version.

(Spanish original after the jump)

El adiós

En vano el alma
con voz velada
volcó en la noche la pena…
sólo un silencio profundo y grave
lloraba en mi corazón.

En la tarde que en sombras se moría,
buenamente nos dimos el adiós;
mi tristeza profunda no veías
y al marcharte sonreíamos los dos…
y la desolación, mirándote al partir,
quebraba de emoción mi pobre voz,
y el sueño más feliz moría en el adiós
y el cielo (para mí) se oscureció.

Sobre el tiempo transcurrido
vives siempre en mí,
y estos campos que nos vieron
juntos sonreír
me preguntan si el olvido
me curó de ti.
Y entre los vientos
se van mis quejas
muriendo en ecos,
mientras que lejos
otros brazos y otros besos
te aprisionan y me dicen
que ya nunca has de volver.

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.


6 thoughts on “El adiós (1937)

  1. Listening to Maida’s singing I thought “no veías” was a spelling mistake (instead of nos veía) but that is indeed what Vargas sings. Both Lagos and Vargas sing “mirándote partir”, but Maida sings “mirándote al partir”. Such more or less minor changes seem to happen often – perhaps because they sung from memory? Did Vargas decide “no veías” made more sense?

    Posted by Paula | 09.30.2010, 9:50 AM
    • Hi Paula,
      Thanks for catching that!
      Upon a second listen, I noticed that Lagos is the singer who drops (in linguist jargon, “aspirates”) the most /s/’s. As you say, Vargas clearly sings “no veías” and Maida clearly sings “nos veía.” But Lagos drops his /s/’s everywhere, especially on notes that he holds out. Especially on crappy laptop speakers, he sounds like he’s singing this:
      “…buenamente nos dimos el adió‘;
      mi tristeza profunda no veía
      y al marcharte sonreíamo’ lo’ do’…”
      So I pulled out my hi-fi Grado headphones and decided to see if they could reveal any hidden /s/’s. Lo and behold, your ear is better than mine, and I could detect a faint “puff” of sound. Lagos indeed sings “nos veía.” I still maintain, though, that the man, in typical porteño fashion, loses half the /s/’s in the song. Which isn’t wrong, it’s stylistic—his singing style is more reo, more street, more colloquial than Maida or Vargas.
      As far as your question on the origin of minor changes between versions goes, I think you’re on to something on both counts, though I can’t say for sure. The theory that they sang from memory is a good one, and would explain the elision of certain function words (sorry, more linguist jargon—function words are articles and prepositions and combinations thereof, like “al” “de” “la” etc., as opposed to content words that convey concepts, like “sombras” and “moría”). Also, maybe some singers were smart alecs who decided they’d change a word or two just for kicks.
      Rarely, whole phrases or concepts are changed. See “Farol” for the most classic and glaring example of this. I would say that Chanel’s line choice clearly gives the whole song a much more pessimistic tone than Fiorentino’s. Or were the line choices up to Pugliese and Troilo? I’m not sure and without talking to musicians who worked with them and the singers we may never know.
      Wow, that was a long winded response to a short comment. Thanks again for catching the discrepancies!

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 09.30.2010, 2:39 PM
  2. Thanks for a comprehensive reply! I thought it was perhaps to petty to comment on but now I’m glad I did.

    I think Farol must be a deliberate change… It seems Fiorentino sings the original version, so either Pugliese or Chanel decided to play with it. I guess we’ll never know exactly how it happened.

    Something between these two types of changes is what occurs in e.g. in Sonar y nada mas – in Troilo and D’agostino versions they sing “amar es sonar” and later “cantando amor” but Canaro’s version has “sonar es amar” and “buscando amor” . It doesn’t change the whole meaning like in Farol but it’s a bit more than changing/omitting function words.

    Posted by Paula | 10.01.2010, 11:40 AM
  3. Hi Derrick

    I’ve been reading your translations for a while now. I very much like the way they read in English.

    A few months ago I started a tango music analysis blog. Today I posted an audio/sheet music synchronization of the Donato and I linked to this page for a translation. And I included the original Spanish and your translation of the verse Lagos sings on my page. I gave full credit using your name in full and the site name.

    Please advise if that is OK with you. I tried to email you but the contact icon just loads my Google account and does not fill in your email address.

    I would like to use your translations in the future on my site – I’m working on Malena next. Please let me know if that is alright with you.

    The El adiós post is here: http://www.tangomusicology.com/wordpres/el-adios/


    Posted by tangomonkey | 07.17.2013, 7:42 PM
  4. Do you know if the sections in italics that are optionally spoken were written by the original lyricist or were they just added by the singer?

    Posted by sophiafrancomodeling | 06.25.2017, 4:37 PM


  1. Pingback: Donato #1: Vocals with Horacio Lagos « DDP's Favorite Tandas - 10.25.2011

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