The Best Tango Lyric Resource for English Speakers

No, it isn’t google translate.

It is a website called Poesía de Gotán, where Derrick Del Pilar uses his academic background and bilingual proficiency to translate tango lyrics. He puts a lot of work into it. He carefully selects words, balancing staying true to meaning and retaining the poetic nature of the lyrics. Read more about the Craft of Translation and the Poetics of Word Choice. He also posts multiple audio versions of the song to listen to while you read along.

Small warning: If you think tango music fun and really pretty and sweet and you’d like to keep it that way, maybe don’t look up the lyrics… Otherwise, if you haven’t checked out Poesía de Gotan yet, please do! I look at the site every few months to enjoy all the new translations. Here’s one of my favorite songs translated into English by Derrick:


Howling amidst lightning,
lost in the storm
of this endless night,
oh Lord! I seek your name…
I don’t want your bolts
to blind me to these horrors,
because I need light
in order to go on…
What I learned at your hand—
shouldn’t it help me lead my life?
I feel that my faith is wavering,
that evil people lead,
oh Lord! better lives than me…

If life itself is Hell
and good men live in tears,
what good does he
who fights in your name,
clean and pure—what for?
If today infamy leads the way
and love kills in your name,
oh Lord! everything you kiss…
Then to follow you is to give ground
and to love you, to succumb to evil.

As for me, I don’t want to abandon you
just show me one single time
when a traitor does not go unpunished,
oh Lord! Then I’ll kiss you…

Show me a single flower
that has blossomed
out of effort to follow you,
oh Lord! so that I do not hate
this world that spurns me
because I refuse to become a thief…
And then, on my knees,
bloodied on the cobblestones,
I will die for you, joyous God!

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