poesía de gotán:

Verdemar (1943)

lyrics by José María Contursi
music by Carlos Di Sarli

your eyes filled with silence.
I lost you, Seagreen.
Your yellowed hands, your colorless lips
and the cold of the night upon your heart.
You are missing, you aren’t here anymore,
your pupils have gone out, Seagreen.

I found you without a thought and I brightened my days,
forgetting the anguish of my hours.
But then life became enraged with you,
and upon your lips my kisses died of cold.
And now…what road shall I take?
Dawnless paths lose me once again.

Orquesta Carlos Di Sarli, singer Roberto Rufino

Orquesta Carlos Di Sarli, singer Oscar Serpa

Orquesta Miguel Caló, singer Raúl Iriarte

(Spanish original after the jump)


se llenaron de silencio tus pupilas.
Te perdí, Verdemar.
Tus manos amarillas, tus labios sin color
y el frío de la noche sobre tu corazón.
Faltas tú, ya no estás,
se apagaron tus pupilas, Verdemar.

Te encontré sin pensarlo y alegré mis días,
olvidando la angustia de las horas mías.
Pero luego la vida se ensañó contigo
y en tus labios mis besos se morían de frío.
Y ahora… ¿qué rumbo tomaré?
Caminos sin aurora me pierden otra vez.

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.


12 thoughts on “Verdemar (1943)

  1. I thought seagreen is a webdesign-speak (e.g. #20B2AA) (my spellchecker hates seagreen … I think aquamarine or maybe even turquoise (which is frequently used to describe water). In Russian there is indeed a “sea wave color” which is pretty much anything cyan. I think La Paz doesn’t even translate Verdemar on his site BTW.

    But apart from Verdemar being a color … what is she, in this tango? A person? A name? A place? A metaphor?

    Posted by Dm | 10.27.2011, 7:24 PM
    • From the lyrics, it seems to me that Verdemar is definitely a real woman, but since the nickname sounds as unusual in Spanish as in English (there a lot of hotels and resorts called Verde Mar, sometimes as two words, sometimes as one), I ultimately chose to translate the name rather than leaving it. I would guess that her eyes are that lovely aqua color…and writing it Greensea just didn’t seem right…
      Interesting note: from the sheet music http://www.todotango.com/spanish/las_obras/partitura.aspx?id=802, it seems that Di Sarli dedicated this tango to his ophthamologist friend…I wonder if that’s the guy who prescribed him those dark sunglasses?

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 10.27.2011, 10:48 PM
      • Thanks! I kind of hoped beyond hope that there would be some obvious meaning of Verdemar which would just make it “anything but” a lament over a dead body. Especially since the word cyan makes me (a reserve chemical defense officer in my other life) think of skin color rather than of a color of the eyes, that bluish tint of oxygen deprivation and/or venous dilation, often mentioned in the victims of Nazi death chambers.

        Speaking of morbid skin colors … the lifeless limbs would be poetically called waxen in Russian, almost never plain yellow. Is there such a distinction in English poetry too?

        Posted by Dm | 10.28.2011, 8:27 AM
        • In English, “waxen” is a common word…and in Spanish, “pálido” or pale is often used. The yellow color implies jaundice, I think…

          Posted by poesiadegotan | 10.28.2011, 10:25 AM
  2. Thank you so much. I always wanted to read a translation of this beautiful, moving song. Greetings from Gainesville, Florida USA ~ Steve

    Posted by Steve Littler | 10.27.2011, 7:27 PM
    • Hello back from my current residence in the chilly Pacific Northwest! I am glad you enjoyed my translation of this tango. Di Sarli’s is the usual version…what do you think of Caló’s?

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 10.27.2011, 10:49 PM
      • I love Caló’s version! That is the one I play at my milonga when I DJ in Gainesville. (It is the saddest song of the night – whew!)

        Posted by Steve Littler | 10.28.2011, 9:04 AM
  3. Another sad one I’d like to see translated is Mañana iré temprano.

    Posted by Steve Littler | 10.28.2011, 10:34 AM
  4. Цвет волны … Вердемар …
    Твои очи переполнены молчаньем
    Ты не здесь, Вердемар!
    Как восковые руки, без цвета на губах,
    Ночной мороз разлуки на сердце у тебя
    Нет тебя, не найти,
    И угасли
    Твои очи,

    Наша встреча случайно
    Дни мои озарила
    И забылось отчаянье
    Темнота отступила
    Слишком скоро судьба нам
    Злую долю сулила
    Поцелуй на губах мой
    Смертной стужей убило
    Нынче … Куда я направлюсь
    Дорогой беспросветной, потерянный опять?

    О, вернись, Вердемар …
    Возвращенье я предчувствую душою
    Возвратись, возвратись!
    Твоя душа дорогой из белого огня
    Пойдет искать в тревоге, в отчаяньи меня
    Только нет, не найти,
    И угасли
    Ттвои очи,

    Thanks for the guidance, Derrick! As you might see at chose to translate the name Verdemar but just once. Yeah, and – the ophthalmologist – that would healing the eye itself, rather than prescribing outside props such as spectacles?

    Posted by Dm | 10.28.2011, 5:34 PM
  5. Tried to follow the beat… in English, it’s harder

    Posted by Dm | 11.08.2011, 6:24 PM


  1. Pingback: Di Sarli: Vocals with Roberto Rufino « 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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