poesía de gotán:

Invierno (1937)

lyrics by Enrique Cadícamo

It has returned:
winter, with its white veil—
the frost has already begun to sparkle
in my loveless life.

Profound agony
that makes me understand
that it is terrible
to find yourself alone.

And when I see
how the cold winds of desolation
gust through my heart
I want to weep.

Because my soul carries
the mists of a winter
that I cannot banish today…

Orquesta Francisco Canaro, singer Roberto Maida

(Spanish original after the jump)


el invierno con su blanco ajuar,
ya la escarcha comenzó a brillar
en mi vida sin amor.

Profundo padecer
que me hace comprender
que hallarse solo
es un horror.

Y al ver
cómo soplan en mi corazón,
vientos fríos de desolación
quiero llorar.

Porque mi alma lleva
brumas de un invierno,
que hoy no puedo disipar…

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.


19 thoughts on “Invierno (1937)

  1. Powerful! What a terrific song! Love Canaro! JC

    Posted by Joe Caldwell | 08.02.2011, 3:52 PM
  2. you really do have a way with english words DDP. You almost brought me to tears with the translation. Keep up the good work. Thank you. Can I/we contribute in anyway?

    Posted by el_ingeniero | 08.02.2011, 5:29 PM
    • Thanks for your compliment! Actually, when I get around to it, I’ve been meaning to ask for some good ears & eyes to go over transcriptions I have of lyrics that aren’t on TodoTango or HermanoTango. I’ll keep you updated :).
      Un abrazo!

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 08.03.2011, 6:28 PM
      • Would love to. It would be an honor. Also, my gosh all the links that you guys are throwing at me for lyrics. I’ll be buried for a while. Don’t know if you take requests but please do “Por Una Cabeza” or “Mariposita” or put it on your list :).

        Posted by el_ingeniero | 08.09.2011, 5:19 PM
  3. Great job as always, I would love to see a translation of “Sangre de mi Sangre”.

    Posted by Dieudonne | 08.02.2011, 7:51 PM
  4. You beat me to it! I had transcribed the lyrics (since I couldn’t find them on Todotango) and had procrastinated on the translating part, but it’s hard to top this one. Splendid as usual!

    Posted by Jaimito | 08.03.2011, 4:42 PM
    • Jaimito, thanks again for you compliments, as always :).
      I don’t know why I haven’t sent you this link before, but this site has transcriptions of many tangos, valses, and milongas that aren’t on TodoTango: http://www.hermanotango.com.ar/Letras/letra_a.htm
      Of course, I try to listen to the recording while reading their transcriptions to catch any discrepancies, but in general I find HermanoTango has a very accurate, and complete list…of course, there are still a few that aren’t on there.

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 08.03.2011, 6:29 PM
  5. Derrick, this is a beautiful translation. I was wondering what you’d do with “ajuar” – all the translations I’d found were along the lines of “dowry” and “furnishings” which to me suggested both more completeness and a longer term relationship – as if he’d been sentenced to live without love for a long time. It reminds me a lot of Nietzsche’s poem Vereinsamt whose imagery is even bleaker and darker.
    I’m now curious what you will do with another Pettorossi composition, Angustia (aka Llora corazon) for which he also wrote the lyrics – the part about “tu me ensenaste a querer / tambien me ensenaste a amar” is way above my Spanish capabilities.
    BTW, in addition to TodoTango and Hermanotango, the Gardel server is also a great source of lyrics at http://www.argentinaonline.info/tangos/
    Un abrazo,

    Posted by tomatango.com | 08.04.2011, 8:12 AM
    • Hi Peter,
      Perhaps the closest translation for “ajuar” would be “trousseau.”
      According to the concise OED, 2008:
      trousseau noun (pl. trousseaux or trousseaus /-səʊz/)
      the clothes, linen, and other belongings collected by a bride for her marriage.
      – origin C19: from Fr., dimin. of trousse ‘bundle’.”
      Here’s the definition of “ajuar”, according to my trusty and well-worn “Diccionario Larousse del español moderno”:
      ajuar m. Muebles, alhajas y ropas que aporta la mujer al matrimonio.”
      That is, “Furnishings, jewelry, and clothing that the woman contributes to the marriage.”
      But, the thing is, trousseau is a rather obscure Gallicism that wound send most English speakers to the dictionary. And personally, I think the word “furnishings” would sound odd and ugly and clash with the rest of the lyrics. Which would leave perhaps “dowry,” but that’s not really right either—in Spanish as in modern English I think, a dowry or dote would be understood to be a mainly financial contribution (and also not the exclusive affair of a bride, since nunneries also receive dotes from women when they take the habit), whereas the trousseau/ajuar is definitely a collection of physical objects—a bridal suite, perhaps? In the end, I opted for “veil” because, like ajuar/trousseau, it’s an object associated with the bride, though as you rightly pointed out it loses the sense of totality. Also, whereas “winter with its white veil,” is merely a metaphor, “el invierno con su blanco ajuar” also seems to imply that winter itself is his bride…
      With the regard to the lines in “Angustia,” I’ll take a stab at it: “tu me enseñaste a querer / tambien me enseñaste a amar” could be translated as “you taught me about desire/and you also taught me about love.” Or perhaps, instead of desire, “affection,” since parents and children can say “te quiero” to each other without any hint of sexual desire.
      Thanks for the link to the Gardel server! I’ll definitely be adding that to my list of resources.
      Un abrazo,

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 08.04.2011, 5:52 PM
  6. So is this song also riding a wave of popularity in the US? Kinda funny given the intolerable heat waves all across the Northern Hemisphere…

    Posted by Jaimito | 08.05.2011, 5:59 PM
    • Well, having moved recently from Tucson, Arizona to Eugene, Oregon, I’m finding complaints here of “heat” to be laughable ;). Also, it’s the tail end of Invierno in Buenos Aires right now, so the timing there is appropriate.

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 08.05.2011, 7:02 PM
  7. Nice, Derrick! It filled me with longing for the solitude, the snowy mist, the winds of the coming winter. It’s not gonna be long before the fresh snow graces the mountaintops … probably before we see you in Portland!

    Posted by Dm | 09.04.2011, 4:49 PM
  8. Trying in English meter for a change 🙂 Always hard to feel your way in a strange tongue! And so I’m always ready for critique and suggestions – and always eager to see new entries in your wonderful poesia blog.

    Winter came, enveloped in white veil,
    Shining ice has covered the way
    Of my life without love

    It hurts me deep inside
    And makes me understand:
    To be alone
    Is so sad

    And when
    Blow, as if coming from my heart
    Chilly winds of winter solitude,
    I want to weep

    For my soul carriers
    Winter mists forever…
    Cannot chase the mist away!

    Posted by Dm | 07.19.2012, 12:27 PM
    • Lovely Dmitri!
      I have been on an extended break, since there is much change in my secular (erm, non-tango…) life right now.
      I’ll give your translation a closer look in a couple of weeks or so.
      As a small side note: in the time (almost a year! jeez!) that has passed since I did this translation and wrote the above comment, I have encountered the word “trousseau” several times in contemporary literature…so maybe it is useful after all!

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 07.19.2012, 12:52 PM
      • I took liberty to translate ajuar as “shroud” in my Russian version, a white color of the funerals rather than of the weddings (technically they could be the same, at least the funeral shrouds of younger women seem to be exactly the same as wedding gowns). Generally, after many conversations with those tangueros who entirely disavow tango poetry as “the usual kitschy steam-and-gloom” (doh!), I begin to think that at least as important as it is to know “the subject” of a poem, is to know its “structure” (meter, accelerations, pauses, alliterations). The text has the music; we don’t just feel the words, we actually dance to them. That’s about liberties with a word here and there 🙂 Although my English syllables might be too heavily accented to make a good meter, too?

        Yes, I didn’t see you in the list of DJs of October PDX, and I was disappointed. I trust that the things are OK overall with you, and hope that you’ll be back in the temple.

        Posted by Dm | 07.19.2012, 2:03 PM


  1. Pingback: Invierno « DJ Eva Beno - 02.03.2013

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