poesía de gotán:
E, O

El olivo (1924)

The Escape*
lyrics by Carlos Cabral

Down by the riverbank
lived a happy old Italian**,
he worked hard night and day
beside his special lady.
And the murmurs of the Riachuelo
lulled them with soft sounds–
those two fools were happy
proud and haughty in their love.

And all the nosy old ladies say
as they pass close to the river
“Those two have fled
in their little boat…”***
but since they didn’t return
and time passed on by
the people started to say,
“Their little boat has sunk.”

A still life filled with laughter
that one far-off day,
drunk with joy,
filled with song…
until fate and luck
changed their destiny
and between blood and wine
one heart wept.

Orquesta Juan D’Arienzo, singer Hector Mauré

*In standard Spanish, “olivo” refers to an olive tree or olive wood (the fruits themselves are called “aceitunas“). However, as a Lunfardismo, it means flight, escape, or getaway.
**The original word is “tano” which can be insulting, though it is not quite as strongly offensive as the outdated U.S. slang “dago” or “wop.”
***Piccolo, the Italian word for “small,” appears in the original lyrics.
(Spanish original after the jump)

El olivo

Allá, junto a la ribera,
un tano feliz vivía,
trabajando noche y día
junto con la compañera.
Y del Riachuelo el rumor,
y arrulla’os por sus murmullos,
eran felices los grullos
engrupidos en su amor.

Y dicen las comadres
paseando junto al río:
“Aquellos se fugaron
sul piccolo navio…”
mas como no volvieron
y el tiempo transcurrió,
las gentes se dijeron:
“El piccolo se hundió.”

Bodegón risueño
que en lejano día
ébrio de alegría
lleno en la canción…
hasta que la suerte
cambió su destino
y entre sangre y vino
lloró un 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.


6 thoughts on “El olivo (1924)

  1. This makes dancing to this tango more meaningful for me knowing the story.

    I hope you’re back to posting more regularly. I’ve missed reading your translations.

    Posted by jantango | 08.10.2010, 1:40 AM
    • Thank you Jan :).
      Now that I am done moving (again) and setting up my new place, I should be posting more frequently.
      Also, as far as this tango goes, I have tried to render the Lunfardo as best I could, though the nuances are sometimes hard to convey. Any addendums/corrections you have based on talks with milongueros would be appreciated greatly

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 08.10.2010, 2:41 PM
  2. First of all, muchísimas gracias, as the porteños like to say, for all your immense work! This site is amazing!

    Just a quick note: I’m hearing Señor Mauré singing “…un tano feliz vivía…” 😉 Just a minor point! Keep up the great work!

    Posted by Mike Yamnitsky | 06.15.2011, 4:02 AM
    • De nada ;).
      Thanks for pointing out my error—that’s what I get for copying & pasting Spanish lyrics from TodoTango sometimes! I do listen through the songs and change what I get from TodoTango to reflect the singing, but occasionally I slip up, and it’s always good to have another pair of eyes checking me!

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 06.20.2011, 10:16 PM
  3. I still can’t get, if in this song everything ends fine or “sangre y vino” es el final de esta historIa…. )))

    Posted by Anna | 08.01.2012, 5:48 AM


  1. Pingback: D’Arienzo #3: Vocals with Hector Mauré « DDP's Favorite Tandas - 10.27.2011

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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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