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This sorrowful, memory driven tango  was the first original translation we performed. Marking the occasion with live music were Marizio Najt (piano) and Pablo Lagouguere (double bass).

Después (1944)
Letra de Homero Manzi
Musica de Hugo Gutiérrez

After (1944)
Lyrics by Homero Manzi, trans. J. Osburn
Music by Hugo Gutiérrez

La luna en sangre y tu emoción,
y el anticipo del final
en un oscuro nubarrón.
tus ojos tan ausentes
llorando sin dolor.
Y después…
la noche enorme en el cristal,
y tu fatiga de vivir
y mi deseo de luchar.
tu piel como de nieve,
y en una ausencia leve
tu pálido final.

And then…
the rise of a blood moon and your emotion,
the anticipation of the end
in a darkening thundercloud.
And later…
oh, yes, and irredeemably,
your eyes weep so vacantly
shedding tears without pain.
And later still…
night’s enormity in the windowpane,
and you are tired of living
and I ache to keep fighting.
And later…
your skin like snow, pale and cold,             
and in an ethereal void
your ghastly finale.

Todo retorna del recuerdo:
tu pena y tu silencio,
tu angustia y tu misterio.
Todo se abisma en el pasado:
tu nombre repetido,
tu duda y tu cansancio.
Sombra más fuerte que la muerte,
grito perdido en el olvido,
paso que vuelve del fracaso
canción hecha pedazos
que aún es canción.
All that is recalled in memory:
your silences and your agony
your anguishes and your mystery.
All that submerges itself in eternity:
your name called in litany,
your weariness and your uncertainty.
Shadow that endures more than dying,
shout that echoes lost in oblivion,
footfall that returns from destruction,
song shredded to bits and pieces
that is nonetheless song.

vendrá el olvido o no vendrá
y mentiré para reír
y mentiré para llorar.
fantasma del pasado
bailando en el tinglado
tal vez para olvidar.
Y después,
en el silencio de tu voz,
se hará un dolor de soledad
y gritaré para vivir…
como si huyera del recuerdo
en arrepentimiento
para poder morir.
And then…
oblivion will come or it will not…
and I’ll tell lies so I can laugh
and I’ll tell lies so I can cry.
phantasm of the past
dancing on the rickety dais
maybe a way to forget.
And after,
in the peace and quiet of your voice
the agony of loneliness will come
and I will scream to stay alive…
as though in escape from recollection
in a rite of repentance
to be ready to die.

Listen to the great Nelly Omar sing Después here:

Respecting the line was important to conveying the “meaning” of this gloomy, poetic tango. Tu pálido final could, in a free verse translation, have become your ghastly end, to good effect (and superior to your pale end or your pallid end). But the loss of two syllables is noticeable when speaking the line aloud; the emotion needs time to settle or, conversely, to spread out; finale maintains the length, echoes the Spanish, and adds a theatrical touch. Where possible, the rhyme pattern is duplicated or hinted at, for example, past/dais for pasado/tinglado. It was also important to preserve the abstract character of the nouns sombra, grito, paso, and canción (shadow, cry, step, song) without giving in to the temptation to add a definite or indefinite article. Tangos go from the particular to the general; the specific tragedy may not be the listener’s own but reflects a general experience that might be.
John Osburn


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