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El adiós

Maruja Pacheco Huergo is said to have composed the melody that became El adiós to capture the mood of a curtain moving lightly in the breeze. Virgilio San Clemente's lyrics would unite the lyrical and the dramatic in one of the great tangos in the Argentine repertory. It was the perfect piece to close out the year at Milonga Falucho/Brooklyn at Café Argentina. The Tango Duo of Machiko Ozawa (violin) and Pablo Cafici (piano) celebrated the occasion with live music.

El adiós (1937)
Letra de Virgilio San Clemente
Música de Maruja Pacheco Huergo

The Farewell (1937)
Lyrics by Virgilio San Clemente, trans. J. Osburn
Music by Maruja Pacheco Huergo
En la tarde que en sombras se moría,
buenamente nos dimos el adiós;
mi tristeza profunda no veías
y al marcharte sonreíamos los dos.
Y la desolación, mirándote partir,
quebraba de emoción mi pobre voz...
El sueño más feliz, moría en el adiós
y el cielo para mí se obscureció.

The afternoon died in encroaching shadow
and we bid each other a fond farewell,
your eyes not seeing my deepening woe,
and before you left we exchanged a smile.
And in the desolate act of watching you go
my impoverished voice cracked with emotion…
The happiest dream had perished with our goodbye
and the clouds moved over me and obscured the sky.
En vano el alma
con voz velada
volcó en la noche la pena...
Sólo un silencio
profundo y grave
lloraba en mi corazón.

The inutile spirit
turned over painfully in the night...
Nothing less than a silence
serious and profound
convulsed my heart with unheard sobs.
Sobre el tiempo transcurrido
vives siempre en mí,
y estos campos que nos vieron
juntos sonreír
me preguntan si el olvido
me curó de ti.
Y entre los vientos
se van mis quejas
muriendo en ecos,
mientras que lejos
otros brazos y otros besos
te aprisionan y me dicen
que ya nunca has de volver.

Since then, in every changing season,
you’ve always lived in me.
The acres that saw the two of us
smile together
ask me why forgetfulness hasn’t been
the balm that’s cured me.
And my sad plaints echo
in the bitter winds
and die out as they go
in search of you...
meanwhile far away
other embraces hold you in sway
kisses that imprison you and tell me
you’ll never need to come back now.
Cuando vuelva a lucir la primavera,
y los campos se pinten de color,
otra vez el dolor y los recuerdos
de nostalgias llenarán mi corazón.
Las aves poblarán de trinos el lugar
y el cielo volcará su claridad...
Pero mi corazón en sombras vivirá
y el ala del dolor te llamará.

When spring reawakens with its resplendent brush
and dabbles the countryside with color,
once more the memoir of a dolorous past
will fill my baneful heart with cruel nostalgia.
Birds will flock again to the wheatfields
and the lofty sky regain its clarity…
yet my piteous heart remain in obscurity
and the wings of my pain call out for you.
En vano el alma
dirá a la luna
con voz velada la pena...
Y habrá un silencio
profundo y grave
llorando en mi corazón.
The soul will cry in vain
to the comforting moon,
its injured voice muffled by pain...
And there will be a silence
serious and profound
sobbing quietly in my heart.

Listen to the dramatic Pugliese-Jorge Maciel version here:

Which stanzas and even in what order they are sung varies wildly between the many available versions of this popular, highly danceable tango. In some cases the chorus is not sung at all; in at least one other, it is placed at the beginning. It is also a little surprising to realize that so much of the imagery is of the countryside, given the urbane sophistication of the music. There is also a submerged theme of seasonal change; spring is not yet come, and there are winds (which I have taken the liberty of  making bitter) in which the singer's complaint are lost. The masterful music seems to me to contain, just barely at times, an emotional pulse of great but never melodramatic intensity.
—John Osburn  


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