Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cohen and Lorca Together At Last

this Leonard Cohen song was inspired by this poem by Lorca, from his book of Poeta en Nueva York


En Viena hay diez muchachas,
un hombro donde solloza la muerte
y un bosque de palomas disecadas.
Hay un fragmento de la mañana
en el museo de la escarcha.
Hay un salón con mil ventanas.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Toma este vals con la boca cerrada.

Este vals, este vals, este vals,
de sí, de muerte y de coñac
que moja su cola en el mar.

Te quiero, te quiero, te quiero,
con la butaca y el libro muerto,
por el melancólico pasillo,
en el oscuro desván del lírio,
en nuestra cama de la luna
y en la danza que sueña la tortuga.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Toma este vals de quebrada cintura.

En Viena hay cuatro espejos
donde juegan tu boca y los ecos.
Hay una muerte para pian
que pinta de azul a los muchachos.
Hay mendigos por los tejados.
Hay frescas guirnaldas de llanto.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Toma este vals que se muere en mis brazos.

Porque te quiero, te quiero, amor mío,
en el desván donde juegan los niños,
soñando viejas luces de Hungría
por los rumores de la tarde tibia,
viendo ovejas y lirios de nieve
por el silencio oscuro de tu frente.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Toma este vals del “Te quiero siempre”.

En Viena bailaré contigo
con un disfraz que tenga
cabeza de río.
¡Mira qué orillas tengo de jacintos!
Dejaré mi boca entre tus piernas,
mi alma en fotografías y azucenas,
y en las ondas oscuras de tu andar
quiero, amor mío, amor mío, dejar,
violín y sepulcro, las cintas del vals.

Those of you who speak and read Spanish will see that the Cohen adaptation is true to the original in both style and impact. Those of you who don't read Spanish are invited to study the fuck up.



Blogger Sherry said...

truthfully, i had 4 years of spanish many years ago in high school and 2 of those teachers were from cuba, plus my nephew's fiance is mexican american as well as one of my friends and her whole family(her husband is croation american) but i haven't any talent for languages of any kind. i could pick out a few words here and there from the poem, but nothing i could string together to form the thought.
i couldn't pick up any italian either, tho my grandparents(who i saw every day of my life til they passed) were from there.
i can enjoy the sounds of other languages tho, the cadence and the songs even if i'm not quite sure of the content. sorry.

: )

10:03 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i have heard a whole bunch of people who say "i haven't any talent for languages" but usually all that it boils down to is that they have never been in a position where using another language was neccessary to conduct the normal business of life.

i grew up needing three languages to negotiate my immediate family. when i was in junior high i took latin (the reservation schools that year were being done by the christian brothers) and while on the mormon placement program in high school i took french (mainly so that i could read voltaire and rabelaise, plus there was the incredibly gorgeous girl taking french . . .)

the navy taught me to speak passable vietnamese in two months. there was no choice at the language school. you got off a bus and if you wanted to find your room, the bathroom or eat anything you had to ask for it in vietnamese. it's amazing how swiftly something like that will come when you have no other options.

rosetta stone has some great software out there.

p.s. the germans that are in the superstition ride stuff all speak 5 or 6 languages each. and in europe that's not even very unusual. to be considered a linguist you have to speak 7 fluently.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

yes, i suppose if you have to, you can do alot. i've learned that in other things, but nope, believe me. i haven't an ear for language.
i would have loved to have spoken or at least understood italian at the very least.
europeans and most others for that matter, are taught languages at an early age. i hear that's much easier.
me, at 55, i'll stick with learning new dishes to cook and poems to find or to write and making my word stones from concrete. i have picked up a few words in chinese because we want my granddaughter to know not only her original culture but the fact that it(as all) are well worth celebrating.
life is short, i'll have the end piece of cake with all the icing and wash the dish later. ; )

11:01 AM  
Blogger Mimus Pauly said...

I think it's true that the older you get, the harder it becomes to learn a new language. In my case, I simply forgot what I learned. I took three years of high school German in the 80s, and had virtually zero contact with it until I became a press operator five years ago. Sometimes I print material in foreign languages, and German is one of them. At least three-fourths of it is incomprehensible to me -- but if it matches the order's master blueline, I know it can be printed.

Maybe this abominable YouTube thing isn't entirely abominable. It's good for viewing Cohen clips. But it's also altering the tenor of blogs that were previously print-with(out)-random-image based. It's a lot like the way television displaced the printed word as America's top source of information, and we've all seen how wonderfully that development has panned out...

2:44 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i try to keep it to a minimum, things like sting on the lute, or emmylou but i do agree with you that there are more than a couple of folks who have gone all YouTube crazy with it and damn near quit writing. . .

3:29 PM  
Blogger litbrit said...

Gorgeous, just gorgeous.

I finally had the opportunity to savor this in complete, blissful peace.


I loves me my Lorca. :-)

Thank you for this, MB.


8:00 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

the whole theme of exile in the lorca is brilliant. much like some of the works of jose marti. but i was very impressed with the way that cohen caught the nuance and idiomatic lilts and meanings.

beautiful. aching. brilliant.

8:11 AM  

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