Noche Cubana — Español-English

Noche Cubana is a bolero (ballad) composed by César Portillo de la Luz (La Habana, 31 octubre 1922 / 4 mayo 2013).

The recording cited below is of Omara Portuondo singing Noche Cubana in 1958, on her debut recording as a soloist. There is an extensive essay (in Spanish) on the music of César Portillo de la Luz and on this particular song and recording, at the YouTube site for Noche Cubana.

The lyrics of Noche Cubana are presented here, first in Spanish, then my poetic translation of them into English, and finally a word-for-word literal translation of the Spanish lyrics.

In my poetic translation, I have tried to suggest the lush elegance of the Spanish lyrics but I have made no effort to match the line-by-line syllable count, nor the rhyming pattern of the original. A “singable” English version of Noche Cubana is left to future work (if ever).

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Noche Cubana
César Portillo de la Luz (La Habana, 31 octubre 1922 / 4 mayo 2013)

Noche cubana
Morena bonita de alma sensual
Con tu sonrisa de luna y ojos de estrellas.

Voz de susurro de frondas y arrullo de mar
Besas con brisas y tu abrazo es calor tropical
Noche criolla quien junto a ti no, no quisiera soñar
Quien no la luz de tu dulce sonrisa no quiere besar?
Negra bonita de ojos de estrellas
En tus brazos morenos quiere vivir un romance mi alma bohemia.

Voz de susurro de frondas y arrullo de mar
Besas con brisas y tu abrazo es calor tropical
Noche criolla quien junto a ti no quisiera soñar?
Quien a la luz de tu dulce sonrisa no quiere besar?
Negra bonita de ojos de estrellas
En tus brazos morenos quiere vivir un romance mi alma bohemia.

Noche cubana
Noche cubana
Noche cubana

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Cuban Night (César Portillo de la Luz)

Oh, Cuban night
You lovely dark girl of sensual soul,
With the moon as your smile, and your eyes made of stars.

Your voice is the whisper of palms and the sea’s lullaby,
Your kisses are breezes, and the tropical heat your embrace.
Oh, Creole night, who could be next to you and not wish to dream?
Who would not want to be able to kiss your sweet shining smile?
Beautiful black girl with eyes made of stars
In your dark arms my bohemian soul wants to live a romance.

Your voice is the whisper of palms and the sea’s lullaby,
Your kisses are breezes, and the tropical heat your embrace.
Oh, Creole night, who could be next to you and not wish to dream?
Who would not want to be able to kiss your sweet shining smile?
Beautiful black girl with eyes made of stars
In your dark arms my bohemian soul wants to live a romance.

Oh, Cuban night,
Cuban night,
Cuban night.

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Omara Portuondo – Noche cubana (canción) César Portillo de la Luz
https://youtu.be/frgbtk8mOhM

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LITERAL

Noche Cubana (César Portillo de la Luz)
[night cuban]

Noche cubana
[night cuban]
Morena bonita de alma sensual
[brunette/brown pretty of soul sensual]
Con tu sonrisa de luna y ojos de estrellas.
[with your smile of moon and eyes of stars]

Voz de susurro de frondas y arrullo de mar
[voice of whisper of fronds(palm fronds) and lullaby of sea]
Besas con brisas y tu abrazo es calor tropical
[you-kiss with/as breezes and your embrace is heat tropical]
Noche criolla quien junto a ti no, no quisiera soñar
[night creole who next/together to you no, no would-want dream]
Quien no la luz de tu dulce sonrisa no quiere besar?
[who no the light of your sweet smile no want kiss]
Negra bonita de ojos de estrellas
[black(female) pretty of eyes of stars]
En tus brazos morenos quiere vivir un romance mi alma bohemia.
[in your arms brown/dark wants to-live a romance my soul bohemian]

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Night Sky In Cuba
(another poetic translation of Noche Cubana)

Night sky in Cuba,
A black woman beauty of sensual soul
With a smile made of moon rays and eyes made of twinkling stars.

Your voice is the whisper of fronds in sway, and murmurs by the sea,
Your kisses are breezes, and tropical heat your embrace.
Creole night please stay, who could be with you and not want dreams to see?
Who could receive your sparkling sweet smile and not want kisses to be?
Black woman beauty with star shining eyes,
In the arms of your darkness my bohemian soul seeks to live out a romance.

Your voice is the whisper of fronds in sway, and murmurs by the sea,
Your kisses are breezes, and tropical heat your embrace.
Creole night please stay, who could be with you and not want dreams to see?
Who could receive your sparkling sweet smile and not want kisses to be?
Black woman beauty with star shining eyes,
In the arms of your darkness my bohemian soul seeks to live out a romance.

Night sky in Cuba,
dark warmth after day
light from far away.

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America United, A New National Anthem

America United

O beautiful for spacious skies
And amber waves of grain,
With purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
United people we,
In brotherhood
With worldwide good,
Our solidarity!

O beautiful for glorious tale
Of liberating strife,
When valiantly for love’s avail
Some gave up precious life!
America! America!
United people we
Till selfish gain
no longer stain
The banner of the free!

 

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_the_Beautiful

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Bajo El Sol — Español-English

Bajo El Sol is a song published in 2016 by Diana Gameros, a Mexican woman presently living in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA. Diana Gameros is an independent musical artist (she produces her own recordings), who accompanies her singing with her classical guitar. This song is a nice example of Diana Gameros’s style of music and performance, which I would classify as trova mexicana (Mexican troubadour). Diana Gameros’s published comments about this song are as follows:

“A love letter to the homeland. A song dedicated to all those who have left their country of origin and who, despite of how dark things can be back home, are counting the days until they can see it again.”

“I miss you. I know your body is gray but I can see the little light that still shines on, my dear and wounded lightning bug. I am coming to you soon and when I do, we will help each other heal our wounds, we will bathe in the sun of your truth”

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Bajo El Sol
Diana Gameros
https://youtu.be/b_VE8N46LC8

entre nosotros hay un río
y novecientos días más
de mi memoria el olvido
quiere arrancarte
pero no podrá
quiere arrancarte
pero no podrá

traigo debajo del brazo
un libro llenito de historias
te las ofrezco toditas, todas!
hoy que la vida no sobra (*)

traigo debajo del brazo
un libro llenito de historias
buenas, malas, largas, cortas
te las ofrezco toditas
gritan mi pena y mi gloria
hoy te las canto toditas, todas!
hoy que la vida nos sobra
bajo el sol de tu verdad

quiero en mis ojos recuerdos
que me hablen de tu querer
mares y valles de sobra
y yo sin poderlos ver

quiero en mi oído un susurro
vientos que vengan de Uxmal
cantos de aves al aire, libres
que no he podido escuchar
bajo el sol de tu verdad

ni todas las flores marchitas
que abundan en tu jardín
ni el rojo de tu piel quemándose viva
harán que me olvide de ti

y aunque tu cuerpo sea gris
mis ojos distinguen tu luz
tierna luciérnaga herida
quiero brillar donde brillas tu

y aunque tu cuerpo sea gris
mis ojos distinguen la luz que te queda
tierna luciérnaga mía
juntas nos curaremos la vida
bajo el sol de tu verdad

bajo el sol de tu verdad
bajo el sol de tu verdad

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(Lyrics above as posted by Diana Gameros on her YouTube page for “Bajo El Sol.”)

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Under Your Sun
(“Bajo el Sol” by Diana Gameros, English translation by MG,Jr.)

A river flows between us two
streaming past nine hundred days
of memories holding you
that forgetfulness wants to yank
but won’t be able,
that forgetfulness wants to yank
but won’t be able.

Beneath my arm I’m bringing you
a book full to brimming with stories.
I offer every one to you, all yours!,
today with no living to spare. (*)

Beneath my arm I’m bringing you
a book full to brimming with stories,
good ones, bad ones, long ones, short ones,
I offer every one to you, all yours!
They cry out my pains and my glories.
Today I will sing them all to you,
today we have living to spare
under the sun of your truth.

In my eyes I want remembrances
that speak to me of your caring
with oceans and valleys to spare
that now I’ll not be seeing.

In my ear I want to have whispers
of breezes that come from Uxmal,
of songs by birds on the wing, and free,
as I’ve not been able to listen
under the sun of your truth.

Neither all of the faded flowers
that mound up in your garden,
nor your reddening skin burning itself alive,
are able to make me forget you.

And even if your body were gray
my eyes could distinguish your light
you tender and wounded firefly.
I want to shine wherever you’re bright.

And even if your body were gray
my eyes could distinguish your light remaining,
my tender firefly, shining.
Together, we’ll cure ourselves living
under the sun of your truth.

Under the sun of your truth,
under the sun of your truth.

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(*) If the “no” in “hoy que la vida no sobra” was actually supposed to be “nos”, then the English translation should read: “today we have living to spare.”

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My 2016 Christmas Gift To You, World

Let us be grateful:
for music and musicians,
for artists and art,
for poets and lyrics,
for writers of truth.

Let us be grateful:
for life and family,
for companionship and friends,
for wisdom won from experience
and which lingers
long after the pain of getting it has passed.

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Here are some items for your enjoyment during the Winter Holidays of 2016:

Personent Hodie – Andrea & Ella
24 December 2014
http://youtu.be/9QuX4GHgWdc

Walking In The Air – Ella & Rebecca
28 November 2014
Rebecca Scott (starts at right) and Ella Garcia (starts at left)
https://youtu.be/ziKBXkf9rUM

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Palestine’s Gift Of Christmas
22 December 2009 (revised 22 December 2015)
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2015/12/22/palestines-gift-of-christmas/

Epiphany On The Glacier
21 November 2007 (revised 28 November 2015)
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2015/11/28/epiphany-on-the-glacier/

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Dona Nobis Pacem
18 December 2012
http://youtu.be/Q01bhkJCy4E

“Silver Bells” & “Santa Baby”
18 December 2012
http://youtu.be/ATr6MbsWd58

“Walking In The Air” & “My Grown Up Christmas List”
17 December 2012
http://youtu.be/bxqyDk4oclQ

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Juramento — Español-English

Juramento
[Miguel Matamoros, 1894-1971 (Cuba)]

(Introducción)

Si el amor hace sentir hondos dolores
y condena vivir entre miserias,
yo te diera mi bien por tus amores
hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias,
hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias.

(Interludio como la introducción)

Si el amor hace sentir hondos dolores
y condena vivir entre miserias,
yo te diera mi bien por tus amores
hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias,
hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias.

Si es surtidor de místicos pesares
y hace al hombre arrastrar largas cadenas,
yo te juro arrastrarlas por los mares
infinitos y negros de mis penas,
infinitos y negros de mis penas.

(Interludio como la introducción)

Si es surtidor de místicos pesares
y hace al hombre arrastrar largas cadenas,
yo te juro arrastrarlas por los mares
infinitos y negros de mis penas,
infinitos y negros de mis penas.

(Acordes final).

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Oath of Love

(Introduction)

To be in love can make you feel such deep sorrows
and condemn you to live with many miseries;
and I swear I would give my all for your loving
even the blood from my arteries that is boiling,
even the blood from my arteries that is boiling.

(Interlude, like introduction)

To be in love can make you feel such deep sorrows
and condemn you to live with many miseries;
and I swear I would give my all for your loving
even the blood from my arteries that is boiling,
even the blood from my arteries that is boiling.

I’m pumping out streams of mystical grieving,
and made to drag those weights behind with long chains binding;
and I swear I would drag them through the oceans,
infinite and black with disappointments,
infinite and black with disappointments.

(Interlude, like introduction)

I’m pumping out streams of mystical grieving,
and made to drag those weights behind with long chains binding
and I swear I would drag them through the oceans,
infinite and black with disappointments,
infinite and black with disappointments.

(Final chords)

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LITERAL:

Juramento
Oath

(Introduction)

Si el amor hace () sentir hondos dolores
If the love makes (one) feel deep pains

y condena vivir entre miserias,
and condemns to-live within miseries

yo te diera mi bien por tus amores
I to-you would-give my good for your loves

hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias,
up-to the blood that boils in my arteries

hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias.
up-to the blood that boils in my arteries

(Interlude)

[repeat first stanza]

Si es surtidor de místicos pesares
If it-is pump of mystical griefs

y hace al hombre arrastrar largas cadenas,
and makes the man drag long chains

yo te juro arrastrarlas por los mares
I to-you swear drag-them through the seas

infinitos y negros de mis penas,
infinite and black from my hardships/sorrows/“shames”-(as plural noun)

infinitos y negros de mis penas.
infinite and black from my hardships/sorrows/“shames”-(as plural noun).

(Interlude, like introduction)

[repeat second stanza]

(Final chords)

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Trío Matamoros: Juramento – (letra y acordes)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0kecq3u4Rg

Juramento — Eva Griñán & Gabino Jardines
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7e3reT8epms

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En el juego de la vida — Español-English

EN EL JUEGO DE LA VIDA
Daniel Santos (1916-1992) with Sonora Matancera (1948)

En el juego de la vida
juega el grande y juega el chico,
juega el blanco y juega el negro,
juega el pobre y juega el rico.

En el juego de la vida
nada te vale la suerte
porque al fin de la partida
gana el albur de la muerte.

Juega con tus cartas limpias
en el juego de la vida,
al morír nada te llevas,
viva y deja que otros vivan.

Cuatro puertas hay abiertas
al que no tiene dinero:
el hospitál y la carcel,
la iglesia y el cementerio.

IN THE GAME OF LIFE

In the game of life you’ll find that
play the big guys and the little fish,
play the white and play the black,
play the poor and play the rich.

In the game of life you’ll find that
all your luck will have been worthless
because at every game’s end
the only pot to win are death’s chips.

With unmarked cards keep playing
in the gamble of your lifetime
for at death you will take nothing,
so just live and then let live.

Fours doors are always open
to those who have no money:
the hospital and jailhouse,
the church and cemetery.

DANIEL SANTOS – EN EL JUEGO DE LA VIDA
https://youtu.be/QCeQ07TXTsI

Dos Gardenias — Español-English

Red Rose White Rose

Dos Gardenias is a bolero written by the Cuban composer Isolina Carrillo Estrada (1907-1996) in 1947. Dos Gardenias is a timeless song, inspiring performers, recording artists and audiences to this day.

Isolina Carrillo (1907-1996)
http://www.ecured.cu/Isolina_Carrillo

Dos Gardenias
(Isolina Carrillo)

Dos gardenias para ti
con ellas quiero decir
te quiero,
te adoro,
mi vida
ponles toda tu atención
porque son tu corazón
y el mío

Dos gardenias para ti
que tendrán todo el calor
de un beso
de esos besos que te di
y que jamás encontrarás
en el calor de otro querer

A tu lado vivirán
y te hablarán
como cuando estás conmigo
y hasta creerás
que te dirán
te quiero

Pero si un atardecer
las gardenias de mi amor
se mueren
es porque han adivinado
que tu amor me ha traicionado
porque existe otro querer.

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Two Gardenias
(Isolina Carrillo)

Two gardenias here for you
with them I’m trying to say
I love you,
adore you,
my darling
guard them very carefully
because they are your heart
and my heart.

Two gardenias here for you
that hold all of the warmth
of love’s kiss,
of those kisses that I gave you
and of which you’ll never find in
passion’s heat from other loves.

By your side these blooms will live
and speak to you
just as when you’re with me,
and you’ll even believe
they are saying:
I love you.

But if some darkening day
the gardenias of my love
should fall dead
it will be because they sensed
that I have been betrayed
and you have another love.

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Daniel Santos – Dos Gardenias
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlW-v_8Int4
[1940s-1990s, defining, the timelessly sexy Daniel Santos at his best]

Ibrahim Ferrer – Dos Gardenias
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4ZqO5Zq9QY
[1997, soulful, nostalgic, sparked the revival]

Antonio Machín – Dos Gardenias
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGTvQusUIyU
[1950s-1970s, such a fluid velvety sound, with such clear diction]

Lucrecia – Dos Gardenias
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgoEHFgwGes
[1996, sultry Cuban jazz version, then a montuno!, soul with youthful energy]

Leo Marini – Dos Gardenias
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0uHtj5ayw8
[1940s-1980s, a tango-flavored version with an Argentine singer]

Sole Giménez – Dos Gardenias
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyhYhMsUyzE
[2012, pure smooth jazz night club version, agile singing and swinging cats playing]

Isabel Pantoja – Dos Gardenias
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lr-mfrQ2G7M
[2013, a smokey torch-song version, with jazz combo and strings, as if back in Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca in 1942]

Victoria Sur – Dos Gardenias
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD6X5-Uuq1M
[2013, lovely voice, excellent band, but I dislike the combination of the traditional ballad-style singing with the modern-spacey-electronic-jazz-rock band music. For me, there is too much music-school technique for show and not enough in service to the spirit of the song. But, all the ingredients here are of high quality, and of youthful vigor, so many should enjoy this, and these musicians certainly have the stuff of making long and artful careers. Finally, I appreciate that they published the lyrics in the notes accompanying the music video.]

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The photos are actually of roses. Gardenias look similar.