Skip to main content

Esta noche de luna

One may be forgiven for thinking that love is always tragic in tango. The letras are full of bitter invective, inconsolable loss, heartbreak unto death. But there are conventional love songs too, that woo, celebrate amor, gush over the loved one. Falucho celebrated love, friendship, and a birthday on the day after Valentine’s Day with this distinctly untragic confession of love. John recited, the singer Carlos Habiague (whose birthday it was) performed the original, Jack Hanley dejayeed and co-taught the dance class with Renée.

Esta noche de luna (1943)

Letra de Héctor Marcó

Música de José Garcia/Graciano Gómez


This Moonlit Night (1943)

Lyrics by Héctor Marcó, trans. J. Osburn

Music by José Garcia/Graciano Gómez


Acercate a mi

Y oirás mi corazón

Contento latir

Como un brujo reloj.

La noche es azul,

Convida a sonar,

Ya el cielo ha encendido

Su faro major.

Si un beso te doy,

Pecado no ha de ser;

Culpable es la noche

Que incita a querer.

Me tienta el amor,

Aćercate ya,

Que el credo de un sueño

Nos revivirá.


Come closer to me now

And listen to my heart beat,

Contented to mark

Time like an enchanted watch.

The night is a deep blue,

Inviting us to dream;

Now the heavens have struck a match

To their brightest orb.

If I give you a kiss,

It will be no kind of sin;

The night will be the guilty one

Making us feel this love within.

I’m tempted by this love,

Come closer to me now,

By the creed of an amorous dream

We will be reborn.


Corre, corre barcarola,

Por mi río de ilusión.

Que en el canto de las olas

Surgirá mi confesión.


Gondola song, row on, row on,

Down my river of hope unreal.

And in their song as the waves flow on

May I confess the love I feel.


Soy una estrella en el mar

Que hoy detiene su andar

Para hundirse en tus ojos.

Y en el embrujo

De tus labios muy rojos,

Por llegar a tu alma

Mi destino dare.


Above the sea I’ve become a star

That stops in its course from afar

To submerge itself in your eyes.

And in the enchantment

Of your scarlet lips I realize,

To win you as my soulmate

I’ll give over my fate.


Soy una estrella en el mar

Que hoy se pierde al azar

Sin amor ni fortuna.

Y en los abismos

De esta noche de luna,

Solo quiero vivir,

De rodilla a tus pies,

Para amarte y morir.


Above the sea I’ve become a star

Who’s had no luck today so far,

Not at love nor at fortune.

And in the abysses

Of this night lit by the moon,

I want only to lie

On my knees before your feet,

To love you and to die.


Acércate a mi

Y oirás mi corazón

Contento latir

Como un brujo reloj.

Me voz te dirá

Palabras de miel

Que harán de tu pecho

Fuego encender.

El canto del mar

Repite en su rumor

Qué noche de luna,

Qué noche de amor.

Dichoso de aquel

Que pueda decir,

Yo tengo un cariño

Qué dulce es vivir.


Come closer to me now

And listen to my heart beat,

Contented to mark time

Like an enchanted watch.

I’ll whisper to you

Some honied words to

Light a fire where your heart lies,

A flame that burns bright.

The song of the sea

Repeats in its rumors

This moonlit evening,

This night of true lovers.

How wondrous is the news

That I could announce,

I have myself a true love

It’s sweet to be alive.


Corre, corre barcarola,

Que la luna se escondió.

Gondola song, row on, row on,

Till the moon is hid and we’ll be alone.


Listen to the iconic recording by Osvaldo Pugliese and the singer Jorge Maciel:


And the DiSarli-Roberto Rufino version, a favorite of many:


It made sense to present this on the day between St. Valentine's and the full moon of February. The love tropes are recognizable across cultures: moonlight, a wandering star, sweet nothings in the ear, the song of gondoliers, the sharing of hearts and souls. If the water metaphors are a bit jumbled—the sea, a river, the implied Venetian canal—it is attributable to the lunacy of love. The love madness of the narrator gives the translator certain advantages in finding a rhyme: “to lie (!?)/on my knees….” There are also fortuities between the languages, such as matching the end rhymes mar, andar, and azar with the identical sounds of “star,” “afar,” and “far.”

—John Osburn