poesía de gotán:
viewing
G

Gracias a la vida (1966)

This is not a tango. It belongs to the Latin American genre known as Nueva Canción, and was written by Chilean folk musician Violeta Parra shortly before her suicide in 1967.
Mercedes Sosa (“La Negra”), the famed folk singer from Tucumán, Argentina (who passed on recently) made this one of her signature songs. In honor of La Negra, and of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., I offer you my translation of this song.

Thank You to Life
music and lyrics by Violeta Parra
sung by Mercedes Sosa

Thank you to life, that has given me so much:
it gave me two bright stars, and when I open them
I can perfectly distinguish white from black
and in the high heavens, their starry depths
and among the multitudes, the man I love.

Thank you to life, that has given me so much:
it has given me my hearing, that in all its breadth
records night and day, crickets and canaries,
hammers, turbines, howls, and torrential rains,
and the tender voice of my beloved.

Thank you to life, that has given me so much:
it has given me sound, and the letters of the alphabet,
and with these the words that I think and declare:
mother, friend, brother, and light illuminating
the path of the soul that I am loving.

Thank you to life, that has given me so much:
it has given me the stride of my tired feet—
with them I have traversed cities and puddles,
beaches and deserts, mountains and plains,
your street, your house, and your doorstep.

Thank you to life, that has given me so much:
it gave me my heart, that shakes in its frame
when I look at the fruits of the human brain,
when I look at good, so distinct from evil,
when I look into the depths of your clear eyes.

Thank you to life, that has given me so much:
it has given me laughter and it has given me tears—
that’s how I can tell joy from agony,
the two materials that form my song,
and your song, which is the same song
and everyone’s song, which is my own song.

Thank you to life…


(Spanish original after the jump)


Gracias a la vida

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto:
me dio dos luceros, que cuando los abro,
perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco
y en el alto cielo, su fondo estrellado
y en las multitudes, el hombre que yo amo.

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto:
me ha dado el oído, que en todo su ancho
graba noche y día, grillos y canarios,
martillos, turbinas, ladridos, chubascos,
y la voz tan tierna de mi bien amado.

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto:
me ha dado el sonido y el abecedario;
con él las palabras que pienso y declaro:
madre, amigo, hermano, y luz alumbrando
la ruta del alma del que estoy amando.

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto:
me ha dado la marcha de mis pies cansados—
con ellos anduve ciudades y charcos,
playas y desiertos, montañas y llanos,
y la casa tuya, tu calle y tu patio.

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto:
me dio el corazón, que agita su marco
cuando miro el fruto del cerebro humano,
cuando miro el bueno tan lejos del malo,
cuando miro el fondo de tus ojos claros.

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto:
me ha dado la risa y me ha dado el llanto—
así yo distingo dicha de quebranto,
los dos materiales que forman mi canto,
y el canto de ustedes, que es el mismo canto
y el canto de todos, que es mi propio canto.

Gracias a la vida…

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

2 thoughts on “Gracias a la vida (1966)

  1. The same beauty one can find in the sounds of Fado and Gregorian Chant? Lovely and haunting!

    Posted by sabina | 02.01.2010, 7:45 AM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Gracias a la vida | 看不開 - 12.29.2009

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Browse

By title in Spanish

Disclaimer

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/.

Poesía de gotán on Facebook!

%d bloggers like this: