Sunday, October 4, 2009

RIP Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa has died. She was an Argentine folk singer who was exiled during the last military dictatorship. With her music, she bore witness against oppression and encouraged those who thirst for justice.

As a tribute, I'm posting the lyrics to the song I primarily associate with Mercedes Sosa. It's actually not her composition—it's the work of another artist, León Gieco—but I associate the song with her because I know it through a concert recording she did.

The English translation is my own, and rather free for the sake of intelligibility. Periodically I try my hand at working up a singable English translation, but no luck yet; I've heard one, but it's mediocre.

As a Christian, I have a problem with the second verse, though I can say yes to the sentiment that we should not simply acquiesce to injustice.

For the time being, there's a recording available at Youtube (not my creation).


Sólo le pido a Dios
que el dolor no me sea indiferente,
que la reseca muerte no me encuentre
vacío y solo sin haber hecho lo suficiente.
All that I ask of God
is that I will not be indifferent to suffering,
that I will not come to the moment of my death
having failed to do what I could.
Sólo le pido a Dios
que lo injusto no me sea indiferente,
que no me abofeteen la otra mejilla
después que una garra me arañó esta suerte.
All that I ask of God
is that I will not be indifferent to injustice,
that I will not merely turn the other cheek
after the first has been clawed.
Sólo le pido a Dios
que la guerra no me sea indiferente;
es un monstruo grande y pisa fuerte
toda la pobre inocencia de la gente.
All that I ask of God
is that I will not be indifferent to war;
it is a terrible monster that tramples
the people’s innocence.
Sólo le pido a Dios
que el engaño no me sea indiferente;
si un traidor puede más que unos cuantos,
que esos cuantos no lo olviden fácilmente.
All that I ask of God
is that I will not be indifferent to deceit;
if a traitor cannot be stopped from having his way,
at least let it not be soon forgotten.
Sólo le pido a Dios
que el futuro no me sea indiferente;
desahuciado está el que tiene que marchar
a vivir una cultura diferente.
All that I ask of God
is that I will not be indifferent about the future,
not despairing like those who abandon their home
to make a new life in a foreign culture.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, for your translation. Mercedes Sosa was heaven on earth!!

God Bless You!

John-Charles Duffy said...

Hi, Anonymous. I'm glad you liked the translation.

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