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Pompas de jabón (1925)

Soap Bubbles [2]
music by Roberto Goyheneche
lyrics by Enrique Cadícamo

Doll from my neighborhood, pretty little thing—
you go riding by with some swell in his car,
you got yourself a fancy haircut,
and you’ve dyed it champagne blonde.
In those bars full of tuxedos and bandoneons, [3]
you dance like you’re striking poses at some cotillion
and just to yank the chains of all the milongueras,
when you leave with your big shot, you say, “Allons!” [4]

Right now the few springs you’ve seen
let you spend your life in a dream
and in the debauched round
of the late-night party circuit,
thinking of royalty
you waste your April days…
Poor girl, among those morons
you feel like you’re Mimi Pinsón! [5]

Keep in mind, poor doll, pretty little thing,
one day your beauty will fade away,
and just as all flowers must wilt,
your crazy dreams must die.
The sugar daddy who spoils you with his dough
will get bored when you least expect it
and then, just like so many mud-grown flowers,
you’ll be out on those streets, begging for change…

You’re on top now ‘cause you’re barely
an embryo of tired flesh
and because your laughter
is still sweet on the ears.
When the unforgiving years
inject you with their bitterness…
you’ll see that all your crazy whims
were just soap bubbles in the wind.

Orquesta Juan D’Arienzo, singer Juan Carlos Lamas (1942)

Carlos Gardel

Alberto Marino

[1] This tango abounds in Lunfardismos, and in the various recordings included, the different singers swap nearly synonymous words (see note 3 below), but the sense remains the same. Where possible, I’ve used corresponding early 20th century slang in English, choosing to footnote only a few instances.
[2] Soap bubbles are beautiful and shiny, but very ephemeral. A similar expression in English is “pipe dreams,” which actually refers to opium-induced fantasies.
[3] The original lyrics (sung by Gardel and Marino) use the old Lunfardo word peringundín, which refers to a no-frills working-class bar where people came to dance. In D’Arienzo’s version, Lamas substitutes the word boliche, which is still used in the Río de la Plata region to refer to a nightclub or “discotheque” where people go to drink.
Also, the word used in this line for bandoneón is the very common slang term “fuelle” [lit. “bellows”].
[4] The word for “bigshot” here is “camba,” which is Lunfardo vesre (reversed syllable slang) for “bacán,” the word for “swell” used a few lines above. The pretentious French “Allons!” (“Let’s go!”), as in the original, is used mockingly here.
[5] Mimi Pinsón, protagonist of a story by Alfred de Musset is a grisette—the archetype or stereotype of a working class French girl, often found in the literature and on the stage in works dating from the mid to late 1800s, and subsequently in many tangos from the 1920s on. See my translation of the tango “Griseta” for more information.

(Spanish original after the jump)

Pompas de jabón

Pebeta de mi barrio, papa, papusa,
que andás paseando en auto con un bacán,
que te has cortado el pelo como se usa,
y que te lo has teñido color champán.
Que en los peringundines (boliches) de frac y fuelle
bailás luciendo cortes de cotillón
y que a las milongueras, por darles dique,
al irte con tu “camba,” batís “allón.”

Hoy tus pocas primaveras
te hacen soñar en la vida
y en la ronda pervertida
del nocturno jarandón,
pensás en aristocracias
y derrochás tus abriles…
¡Pobre mina, que entre giles,
te sentís Mimí Pinsón…!

Pensá, pobre pebeta, papa, papusa,
que tu belleza un día se esfumará,
y que como las flores que se marchitan
tus locas ilusiones se morirán.
El “mishé” que te mima con sus morlacos
el día menos pensado se aburrirá
y entonces como tantas flores de fango,
irás por esas calles a mendigar…

Triunfás porque sos apenas
embrión de carne cansada
y porque tu carcajada
es dulce modulación.
Cuando implacables, los años,
te inyecten sus amarguras…
ya verás que tus locuras
fueron pompas de jabón.

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

4 thoughts on “Pompas de jabón (1925)

  1. Wow. Tells it like it is. JC

    Posted by Joe Caldwell | 04.09.2016, 10:32 AM
    • HOLA AMIGO AQUI TE DEJO LA LETRA REAL TAL COMO ES CANTADA,COMO FUE ESCRITA

      Pebeta de mi barrio, papa, papusa,
      que andás paseando en auto con un bacán,
      que te has cortado el pelo como se usa,
      y que te lo has teñido color champán.
      Que en lo peringundines de frac y fuelle
      bailás luciendo cortes de cotillón
      y que a las milongueras, por darles dique,
      al irte con tu “camba”, batís “allón”.

      Hoy tus pocas primaveras
      te hacen soñar en la vida
      y en la ronda pervertida
      del nocturno jarandón,
      pensá en aristocracias
      y derrochás tus abriles…
      ¡Pobre mina, que entre giles,
      te sentís Mimí Pinsón…!

      Pensá, pobre pebeta, papa, papusa,
      que tu belleza un día se esfumará,
      y que como todas las flores que se marchitan
      tus locas ilusiones se morirán.
      El “mishé” que te mima con sus morlacos
      el día menos pensado se aburrirá
      y entonces como tantas flores de fango,
      irás por esas calles a mendigar…

      Triunfás porque sos apenas
      embrión de carne cansada
      y porque tu carcajada
      es dulce modulación.
      Cuando implacables, los años,
      te inyecten sus amarguras…
      ya verás que tus locuras
      fueron pompas de jabón.

      Posted by INÉS ALICIA WIBRATT ANDROSI | 04.09.2016, 11:41 AM
      • Gracias! No sé como se ve en algunas computadoras/celulares ajenos, pero siempre incluyo el original en castellano debajo de la traducción. Me gustaría ponerlos juntos, al lado, línea por línea, pero se me hace difícil…un gran abrazo!

        Posted by Derrick Del Pilar | 04.13.2016, 9:54 AM
    • Indeed, and doesn’t only apply to young women…

      Posted by Derrick Del Pilar | 04.13.2016, 10:11 AM

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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, 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/.

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