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Violeta Parra

Violeta Parra Translated Songs

Translation: Sergio Reyes

(Full translation)

Chile is bounded by Peru to the north
By Cape Horn to the south
To the east rise the Andean Mountains
To the west stretches the coast line.

The central valleys all dressed in green
Where shantytown dwellers multiply
Each family has many children
In their huts they live in misery

That is not to say that some live in great comfort
Thanks to the blood spilled by the workers
In front of the most arrogant coat of arms
Agriculture presents us with many questions

We import potatoes from various countries
When potatoes are originally form Chile's South
In front of our tri-colored emblems
Mining has many shortcomings.

Miners produce good money
But for foreigners, not for them
There is also this exhuberant industry
Were many housewives work

And they have to do it like that
For their husband's wages don't last the month
So that I don't feel the sting of their needles
I sing under the stars of the night

Mr. Tourist our country must look so nice to you
But the tour guides don't show you shantytowns
While the rich spend millions in a minute
The poor die of starvation by the thousands.

Much money is spent on municipal parks
But misery is grand in every public hospital
Right in the middle of the Avenue of Delights
Chile sits at the center of injustice.

(Full Translation)

When I headed for the pampa
My heart was happy
Like the chirigue bird
But as we arrived my bird started to die
First, its feathers fell one by one
Then, it lost its voice and couldn't sing.
And overhead, the sun burning down.

When I saw how the miners lived
I said to myself
"The snail lives better in his shell
And so do the most sophisticated thieves
In the shade of the Law."

And overhead, the sun burning down.

Rows and rows of huts
One in front of the other, yes sir
Rows and rows of women in front of
The only faucet
Each one with her bucket
With their sorrowful faces
And overhead, the sun burning down.

I go through a ghost town
My mind goes dark
But where people live
Death is more evident
Justice has been buried here
Reason has been buried here
And overhead, the sun burning down.

If some one says I am just dreaming
Dreams out of good intentions
I say this happens here in Chuqui
But in Santa Clara is even worse
Miners don't know what the price is
Of their own suffering.
And overhead, the sun burning down.

I headed back to Santiago
Not understanding what colors
They paint the news
When the poor say enough
Down below the dark night
Gold, saltpeter and coal
And overhead, the sun burning down.
And overhead, the sun burning down.
And overhead, the sun burning down.


Straight to Heaven
Our little angel goes
To pray for his grandparents,
His parents and siblings.
When the flesh perishes,
The soul seeks a new home
Inside a giant poppy
Or inside a little bird.

Happy butterflies
Dance for him around his crib.
When the flesh dies
The soul goes straight up
To greet the moon
And on its way
To greet the morning star.


One eye I left in the lakes
By pure oversight
Another eye I left in Parral
In a town bar
I remember now how much misery
My infant soul witnessed,
Poverty and wrong doings
Torment my thoughts.
Between wind and water
My thoughts get lost in the distance.

Going ashore at Riñihue
Violeta Parra was sighted
With no strings on her guitar
With no blank paper in her notebook.
A band of chirigue birds came
To offer her a concert.
Going ashore on Riñihue
Violeta Parra was sighted.


In order to forget you, I'll till the soil
Hoping to find relief for my sorrow
Over there I'll plant a rose bush
With the sharpest thorns.
The wreath will be all ready
For when your memory passes away.

For my sadness, blue violets.
For my passion, red carnations.
And the petals of a daisy will let me know
If you still love me.
"He loves me, he loves me not,"
These flowers appease my heart.


I curse both mountain ranges,
The Andean Mountain and the Coastal Mountain.
I curse the long and narrow strip of our country.
I curse peace and war, truth and deception.
I curse all that is fragrant because my hopes are gone.
I curse all that is true and all that is false.
So great is my anguish!

Finally, I curse the color white,
The color black, the color yellow.
Bishops and altar boys
I curse them all, crying.
The free and the oppressed,
The sweet and the rough,
I include them in my cursing.
I curse everything in Greek and Spanish
Because the one I loved betrayed me.
So great is my anguish!


"What are you singing about?"
I ask him.
He doesn't know the answer.
Vain is a bee that doesn't know about honey,
Vain is the voice that doesn't know about sound.
Can the blind see the glow of gold?
"Thirty coins and a cross"
Responds the chorus from Israel.
Where does your lying begin?
Where does your truth end?
Your looks can be deceptive
Your laughter could be crying.

Finally his conciousness spoke:
"Sing about your people's suffering,
About their misery, about their toiling,
About their meaning of life."

With this divine knowledge
The singer himself shone like gold.


La Pericona is dead
dead because no doctor would see her
dead because she had no money
dead because
she couldn't afford to live.

Bring your boat around the bend
bring a cross and a wreath
La Pericona is dead.


A wedding has taken place
A black wedding
Black were the groom and the bride
Black were also the inlaws
Black was the priest who married them.

Suddenly, the Black wife got sick
A doctor was brought from the city
The darkest maquí clay from the hills
He prescribed.

The Black wife did not recover
What sorrow for her loving Black husband
Tenderly he puts her in a coffin
The coffin is also black
At her wake no candles were lit
So we all enter the darkness of death.


To be seventeen again when you have lived a century
Is like deciphering signs without being
An able sage.
It's like suddenly transforming yourself
Into a fragile grain of sand
It's like the overwhelming feeling a child feels
When he stands in front of God.
In this moment so rich, this is how I feel.

My feelings wind round and round
Like ivy on a wall
My feelings grow and grow
Like moss on a rock
Like tiny moss on a rock
Oh, yes, yes, yes.

(Full Translation)

Oh my heart, answer me
Why do you beat so,
Why do you beat so,
Like a bell tolling wildly
Why do you beat?

Don't you see I spend the nights
Yes, awake
Like a sail ship on rough sea
You keep me awake

What has my sin been
For you to mistreat me so
To mistreat me
Like the prison guard
Mistreats the prisoners
Or is it that
Do you want to kill me?

I know you hide
Behind thick walls
Behind heavy walls
You squeeze the blood from my veins
With your tentacles
Why don't you let me go?

Wicked heart,
You have no mercy,
You have no mercy on me,
Since birth you have been
Blind, deaf and dumb,
Since birth you give me grief,
Without mercy.


What has it brought me
That moon you and I gazed upon
What has it brought me
Your name and mine
Carved on the walls.

There they are, the same moon,
A white lily in the yard,
Our names carved on the wall,
Your image following me wherever I go,
And you, ungrateful dove,
No longer come to my nest.


Five nights in a row, I cry for you.
Five handwritten letters the wind blew away.
Five black handerchieves have been witness
To the five pains growing in me.

My absent dove, white dove, a rose in bloom.

A cage came down from the sky
Like a giant metal box,
Inside, all the little birds were singing
But I had no problem recognizing your song,
My little swallow.


I don't know why God
Gives someone without a head
A beautiful hat to wear.

I gave you my heart
Give it back to me promptly
Soon I came to realize
That you didn't deserve my love.

He said, "My name is Alberto."
I answered, "It sounds good
But to be a good Alberto
You also must be `albertío'."


In the carriage of forgetfulness
Before sunrise,
During one of the seasons,
He decided to roll away,
To the North the man went.
Who knows when he will come back?
He will return, perhaps,
To celebrate the birthday
Of my solitude.

The man went back North
What can I do,
Life is like this,
Thorns of Israel,
Crucified love,
Wreath of disdain,
Nails of martyrdom,
Vinegar and gall,
Woe is me, woe is me.

(Full Translation)

Thank you, Life, for you gave me so much.
You gave me two stars for eyes and when I open them
I can perfectly distinguish black from white
And up above in the skies the constelations
And in the crowds the man I love.

Thank you, Life, for you gave me so much.
You gave me ears so that I can hear
And record the sounds day and night of
Crickets, canaries, factories, dogs barking,
The rain falling, and the sweet voice of my loved one.

Thank you, Life, for you gave me so much.
You gave me the sounds and the alphabet
And with them the words I think of and declare
Mother, friend, brother and light shining
Over the route of my loved one's soul.

Thank you, Life, for you gave me so much.
You gave my tired feet the strenght to walk
On them I have visited cities and potholes
Beaches and deserts, mountains and valleys
And your house, your street, your backyard.

Thank you, Life, for you gave me so much.
You gave me my heart that beats like a drum
When I see the fruits of the human brain
When I see good so far away from evil
When I look in the depth of your beautiful eyes.

Thank you, Life, for you gave me so much.
You gave me laughter and tears
So I can express happiness and sorrow
The two elements my songs are made of
And your songs, which are like my songs,
And everybody's songs, which are also mine.

Thank you Life.