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Tango Poetry

Below are some poems from the world of tango, deeply reflective of the passion and sensuality that is within tango. Some of the poetry is translated, others are from tango songs.

The Connection
-Eran Braverman, 2010

I carefully escort you to the dance floor
And pause, hesitate, till you are ready.
Gently, gently, gently, I take your hand,
And put my other, o so softly, at your back.

We begin to dance
And, momentarily
We connect.
We connect.

We become inseperable, entangled.
We are enveloped in escaped sensuality, that
For the duration of this dance
Is perfectly balanced; how precious it is.

Let this dance never end because
The connection is sadly, purely, only, for the duration of this dance.
Let this dance never end because
When it ends the connection will shatter like perfect glass.

The Follower
-Eran Braverman, 2010

O her looks!
Enchanting, beautiful and alluring; hypnotic;
In those feminine, long heels that exentuate and flatter her elegance,
In that dress which tranforms her into a picture of divinity.
The lighting is dim, obscure, with tones of blood red,
Lighting fit for the follower, giving her
A sense of mystique.

O her movements!
She pivots
And her dress
Rises and falls, flows and ebbs, lights and shadows, like waves at the shore.
She pivots
And her magnificent legs turn in impossible contradiction to her body
That for a single second the flexibility, the suppleness she displays
Is breath taking
To behold.

O her touch!
To take her in your arms, to move and sway to that melody,
To have her in that enticing close embrace
Is sublime; an unsurpassable privilege.
Her pleasure becomes your pleasure.
When she performs the castigada
In that instant
Even whilst the music plays
Even as the dance continues
The world stops,
To allow the body and soul to feel entranced.

This Is How to Dance Tango
-Elizardo Martínez Vilas, 1942

What do the rich boys,
snobs and fashionistas know?
What do they know about tango,
what do they know about rhythm?

Here is elegance:
What a look! What presence!
What poise! What arrogance!
What a dance lesson!
This is how to dance tango,
while I draw an ocho
for these filigrees
I’m like a painter.
And now a run of steps,
a turn, a pose—
This is how to dance tango,
a flowery tango for my memory!

This is how to dance tango:
feeling in your face
the blood that rises
with every beat
while the arm,
like a serpent,
surrounds the waist
that’s going to bend.

This is how to dance tango:
the breath melding
closing your eyes
to hear better
how the violins
tell the bandoneón
why since that night
Malena hasn’t sung.

Far from Buenos Aires
-Oscar Rubens, 1942

With a heavy grimace,
old, sad, and worthless,
walking with a slow step
I’m carrying my grief.
Far from the big city
that has seen me flourish,
in the strangest streets
I feel my soul start to darken.
No one sees my end,
nor do they care about my grief,
no one wants my friendship,
I’m alone with my bitterness.
And so I’ve wandered
since the day I arrived
when after a crazy dream
I abandoned everything, everything.

And wandering aimlessly suddenly I started,
when I head a recording of that tango:
'Waiter, bring another glass,'
that was sung by Carlos Gardel.
And hearing it I remembered everything from the past,
the happy years of my youth,
my old lady, my gang of friends,
my old girlfriend that I abandoned.
Tango, that brings such memories!
My Buenos Aires, I want to cry!

An Emotion
-Orquesta Ricardo Tanturi, singer Enrique Campos, 1943

Come and see what I’m bringing with this union of notes and words:
it’s the song that inspired me,
an evocation that cradled me in its arms last night.
It’s the voice of tango sounded on every corner
by those who live by an emotion that dominates them.

I want to sing for this sound
that gets sweeter and more seductive all the time.
Wrapped up in this illusion last night I listened to it,
an emotion composed of things from my yesterdays:

the house where I was born,
its iron fence and its ivy,
the old carousel and the rosebush.

Its accent is the song of sentimental voices,
its rhythm is the measure that lives in my city—
it has no pretensions,
it doesn’t want to be lewd,
it’s called tango, and nothing more.

If it’s so humble and so simple
in its measures,
why add bad examples
in every phrase?
With these leftover emotions
it’s very easy to touch the heart.

-Orquesta Aníbal Troilo, singer Francisco Fiorentino, 1941

Malena sings the tango like no other
and she puts her heart in every verse.
Her voice perfumes with suburban weeds,
Malena has the pain of the bandoneón.
Perhaps in her distant youth her lark’s voice
took on that dark back-alley tone,
or perhaps it was that romance that she only names
when she saddens herself with alcohol.
Malena sings the tango with a shadowy voice,
Malena has the pain of bandoneón.

Your song
has the chill of a last meeting…
your song
becomes bitter in the salt of memories…
I don’t know
if your voice is the bloom of a wound,
I just know that the sound of your tangos, Malena,
makes me feel that you are better,
better than me.

Your eyes are dark as forgetfulness,
your lips pressed together like rage,
your hands two doves that feel a chill,
your veins have the blood of the bandoneón.
Your tangos are abandoned creatures
that cross the mud of the alleys,
when all the doors are closed
and the ghosts of the song wail,
Malena sings the tango with a broken voice,
Malena has the pain of the bandoneón.


Enclosed within your arms
Moving to your rhythm
Waiting to see where you lead

Letting go of my control
Freeing myself to respond
Willing part of this whole

Accomplice in your dance
Willing to take this chance
Lead and I will follow

Becoming Tango

I can feel your timidity
When I offer my proximity
There’s no safe space
Within the close embrace

Your sweat under my palm
My body inside your arm
Our rhythms begin to coincide
Within the step and glide

When we forget our fumbling feet
Feel the music and hear the beat
Somewhere the ebb and flow
Becomes the Tango

For some translations on this page see poesiadegotan.wordpress.com

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