Gitana rusa (1942)
Letra de Horacio Sanguimetti
Música de Juan Sánchez Gorio
Russian Gypsy (1942)
Lyrics by Horacio Sanguimetti, trans. J. Osburn
Music by Juan Sánchez Gorio
Pintó tus ojos
El azabache de una pena.
Yo vi tus lágrimas de amor.
Fueron pañuelo de tu llanto
It brushed your eyelids
With the black shadow of an affliction.
Good gypsy woman,
I saw you cry salty tears of love.
And bleached white highways
Became the kerchief of your wailing
And your grieving heart
Was torn apart.
No lo hallarás por las tabernas,
Ni en las estepas
Ni en las calles del dolor.
Serás más triste cuando sepas
Que tu gitano se arrojó una noche al Don...
O Russian gypsy,
Don’t go seeking him in the ale houses,
Nor the high plains grasses
Nor in the byways of your pain.
O tear stained gypsy,
What you find out will be the saddest:
To the dark depths of the river Don he gave himself that night…
Buscaron música en tus trenzas,
Y los cosacos
Cantaron a tu soledad.
Tus ojos negros
Estaban lejos de la vida
Ya no querían
Volver a amar.*
*Final stanza not sung in most versions.
Sought their sad music in your tresses,
Meanwhile the Cossacks
Of your loneliness they sang.
Your deep black sockets,
The eyes that sank away from living,
No longer wanted
To come back to love.
The broodingly intense Orlando Medina-Ricardo Malerba version is probably the most frequently played in milongas:
Luis Mendoza, singing with the credited composer Sánchez Gorio's orchestra, enunciates the lyrics sharply and dramatically:
In this translation, I continue to give greater attention to how the lines scan with the original, not merely in length and rhyme but how they might fit with the music. This layers a tonal effect onto the literal meaning, accentuating the romantic folk tragedy of the lyric. To be sure, "Gitana rusa" could be critiqued as orientalist or exoticizing; the article linked in the heading (above) goes so far as to describe it as kitsch. The words gitana/o and gypsy may feed into that impression; both are misnomers based on the false belief that the Romani people were from Egypt. Roma or Romani are the preferred terms in most usages today. The former would scan but be less true to the period, as well as raising some difficulties in terms of number and gender.