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Posts Tagged ‘A casa da Mariquinhas’

Amália da Piedade Rodrigues (July 1, 1920 – October 6, 1999)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E’ ou nãò é

 

Gaivota

Se uma gaivota viesse                               
Trazer-me o céu de Lisboa
No desenho que fizesse
Nesse céu onde o olhar
É uma asa que não voa
Esmorece e cai no mar

Que perfeito coração
No meu peito bateria
Meu amor na tua mão
Nessa mão onde cabia
Perfeito o meu coração

Se um português marinheiro
Dos sete mares andarilho
Fosse quem sabe o primeiro
A contar-me o que inventasse
Se um olhar de novo brilho
Ao meu olhar se enlaçasse

Que perfeito coração                
No meu peito bateria
Meu amor na tua mão
Nessa mão onde cabia
Perfeito o meu coração

Se ao dizer adeus à vida
As aves todas do céu
Me dessem na despedida
O teu olhar derradeiro
Esse olhar que era só teu
Amor que foste o primeiro

Que perfeito coração
Morreria no meu peito
Meu amor na tua mão
Nessa mão onde perfeito
Bateu o meu coração

Meu amor
Na tua mão
Nessa mão onde perfeito
Bateu o meu coração

Seagull

A seagull came close                           
To bring me the sky of Lisbon.
In that image made
In this sky, where the look
Is a flightless wing which
Falters and falls to the sea.

What a perfect heart
Would beat in my breast
My love, were it your hand
That hand which would fit
My heart perfectly

If a Portuguese sailor
Drifting on the seven seas
Was the first to know,
And tell me even if he invented it,
A look of a new brilliance
Would entwine with my gaze again.

What a perfect heart
Would beat in my chest
My love, in your hand
That hand where it would fit
My heart perfectly

If when saying farewell to life                  
All birds in the sky
Would give me when I part
The fire of your last look
That look that was yours alone
You who were my first love.

What a perfect heart
Would die in my chest
My love, in your hand
That hand were perfectly
My heart used to beat

My love
In your hand
That hand were perfectly
My heart used to beat

Nem os paredes confesso

Não queiras gostar de mim                            
Sem que eu te peça
Nem me dês nada que ao fim
Eu não mereça
Vê se me deitas depois
Culpas no rosto
Isto é sincero
Por que não quero dar-te um desgosto

De quem eu gosto
Nem às paredes confesso
E até aposto
Que não gosto de ninguém
Podes sorrir, podes mentir, podes chorar também
De quem eu gosto
Nem às paredes confesso

Quem sabe se te esqueci
Ou se te quero
Quem sabe até se é por ti
Por quem eu espero
Se gosto ou não afinal
Isso é comigo
Mesmo que penses que me convences
Nada te digo

Not even to the walls will I confess

Don’t wish to love me                                             
Without me asking you to
Don’t even give me anything which in the end
I don’t deserve

Then see if you can find
Blame or regret on my face
I mean this sincerely
Because I do not want
To give you reason to be hurt

The one I love
Not even to the walls will I confess
And I even bet
That I love nobody.

You can smile
You can lie
You can even cry, that
Of the one that I love;
Not even to the walls will I confess              

Who knows if I have forgotten you
Or whether I want you
Who knows even if it’s you
That I am waiting for?

Whether I love or not, (in the end)
Is my business
Even if you think
That you can convince me
I (shall) tell you nothing

(the name of) the one I love
Not even to the walls (will I) confess
And I even bet
That I love nobody

Maldição

Que destino, ou maldição                
Manda em nós, meu coração?
Um do outro assim perdido
Somos dois gritos calados
Dois fados desencontrados
Dois amantes desunidos

Somos dois gritos calados
Dois fados desencontrados
Dois amantes desunidos

Por ti sofro e vou morrendo
Não te encontro, nem te entendo
Amo e odeio sem razão
Coração quando te cansas
Das nossas mortas esperanças
Quando paras, coração?

Coração quando te cansas
Das nossas mortas esperanças
Quando paras, coração?

Nesta luta, esta agonia                    
Canto e choro de alegria
Sou feliz e desgraçada
Que sina a tua, meu peito
Que nunca estás satisfeito
Que dás tudo e não tens nada

Que sina a tua, meu peito
Que nunca estás satisfeito
Que dás tudo e não tens nada

Na gelada solidão
Que tu me dás coração
Não há vida nem há morte
É lucidez, desatino
De ler no próprio
Sem poder mudar-lhe a sorte

É lucidez, desatino
De ler no próprio destino
Sem poder mudar-lhe a sorte

Curse

What destiny or curse                                        
do you command in us, my heart?
One so lost from the other
We are two silenced screams
Two unencountered fates
Two separated lovers.

We are two shut-up screams
Two unencountered fates
Two separated lovers.

I suffer for you and go dying
I do not find you nor do I understand you
I love and hate without reason
Heart, when will you tire
of our dead hopes
When will you stop, heart?

Heart, when will you tire                                      
of our dead hopes
When will you stop, heart?

In this fight, this agony
I sing and cry for joy
I am happy and miserable
What destiny you have, my heart
that you are never satisfied
that you give everything and have nothing

What destiny you have, my heart
that you are never satisfied
that you give everything and have nothing

In the frozen solitude
that you gave me, heart
There is no life nor is there death
It is lucidity and folly
to read one’s own destiny
without the power to change its path

Primavera

Todo o amor que nos prendera      
Como se fora de cera
Se quebrava e desfazia
Ai funesta primavera
Quem me dera, quem nos dera
Ter morrido nesse dia.

E condenaram-me a tanto
Viver comigo meu pranto
Viver, viver e sem ti
Vivendo sem no entanto
Eu me esquecer desse encanto
Que nesse dia perdi.

Pão duro da solidão
É somente o que nos dão
O que nos dão a comer
Que importa que o coração
Diga que sim ou que não
Se continua a viver.

Todo o amor que nos prendera           
Se quebrara e desfizera
Em pavor se convertia
Ninguém fale em primavera
Quem me dera, quem nos dera
Ter morrido nesse dia.

Spring

All the love that had restrained us
As though it were of wax
Was breaking and undoing itself
Oh dismal spring
If only I, If only we
Had died on that day

And they condemned me so
To live with me my weeping
To live and live without you
Living without nevertheless
Forgetting that spell
That I lost on that day

Bread hard from solitude                   
Is all that they give us
That they give us to eat
What matters is that the heart
Say yes or no
Whether it continues to live

All the love that had restrained us
Had broken and undone itself
In dread it changed
Nobody speaks in spring
If only I, if only we
Had died on that day.

 

Uma Casa Portuguesa

Numa casa portuguesa fica bem,               
pão e vinho sobre a mesa.
e se à porta humildemente bate alguém,
senta-se à mesa co’a gente.
Fica bem esta franqueza, fica bem,
que o povo nunca desmente.
A alegria da pobreza
está nesta grande riqueza
de dar, e ficar contente.

Quatro paredes caiadas,
um cheirinho à alecrim,
um cacho de uvas doiradas,
duas rosas num jardim,
um São José de azulejo,
mais o sol da primavera…
uma promessa de beijos…
dois braços à minha espera…
É uma casa portuguesa, com certeza!
É, com certeza, uma casa portuguesa!

No conforto pobrezinho do meu lar,         
há fartura de carinho.
e a cortina da janela é o luar,
mais o sol que bate nela…
Basta pouco, poucochinho p’ra alegrar
uma existência singela…
É só amor, pão e vinho
e um caldo verde, verdinho
a fumegar na tigela.

Quatro paredes caiadas,
um cheirinho á alecrim,
um cacho de uvas doiradas,
duas rosas num jardim,
São José de azulejo
mais um sol de primavera…
uma promessa de beijos…
dois braços à minha espera…
É uma casa portuguesa, com certeza!
É, com certeza, uma casa portuguesa!

É uma casa portuguesa, com certeza!
É, com certeza, uma casa portuguesa!

A Portuguese Home

In a Portuguese home, it is so good                
to have bread and wine on the table.
and if someone humbly knocks at the door,
we invite them to sit at the table with us
This sincerity is good, so good ,
the sincerity which people never deny
the joy of poverty
is this great richness
of being generous and feeling happy
Four whitewashed walls,
a sweet smell of rosemary,
a bunch of golden grapes
two roses in a garden,
a ceramic statue of St. Joseph
and the sun of the spring in addition …                 
a promise of finding kisses
two open arms waiting for me.
This is a Portuguese home, certainly!
This is, surely, a Portuguese home!
In the humble comfort of my home,
there is the plenty of affection.
and the curtain of the window is the moonlight,
and also the sun, that shines on it …
Just a little is enough to cheer
such a simple existence
It’s simply love, bread and wine
and the green kale soup,
steaming from the bowl.

Cansaço

Por trás do espelho quem está   
De olhos fixados nos meus;
Alguém que passou por cá
E seguiu ao Deus dará
Deixando os olhos nos meus

Quem dorme na minha cama
E tenta sonhar meus sonhos
Alguém morreu nesta cama
E lá de longe me chama

Tudo o que faço ou não faço
Outros fizeram assim;
Daí este meu cansaço
De sentir que quanto faço
Não é feito só por mim.

Weariness

Behind this mirror, who is that                              
With her gaze fixed on mine?
Someone who had been here among the living
And now is gone somewhere
Under the Lord’s providence
Leaving her gaze confined in my eyes

Who is that, sleeping in my bed,
Trying to dream my dreams?
Someone has died right here
In this bed and now is calling for me
In the distance, blended in my dreams

Whatever it is I do, or not do,
Many others did the very same
And here’s the source of my weariness :
To feel that whatever it is I try to do,
Many others have tried the very same

Com Que Voz

Com que voz chorarei meu triste fado,    
que em tão dura paixão me sepultou.
Que mor não seja a dor que me deixou
o tempo, de meu bem desenganado.
Mas chorar não se estima neste estado
aonde suspirar nunca aproveitou.
Triste quero viver, pois se mudou
em tisteza a alegria do passado.
De tanto mal, a causa é amor puro,
devido a quem de mim tenho ausente,
por quem a vida e bens dela aventuro.

(Lyrics adapted by Alain Oulman from the original sonnet of Luís Vaz de Camões)

 

With What Voice

With what voice will I cry my sad fate?                  
That in such hard passion entombed me
That more may not be the pain that time left me
from my disabused love?

But to cry does not esteem itself in this state
Whence sighing never proves useful
Sad I want to live, for the joy of the past
Changes in sadness

In this way I pass life discontent
To the sound in this prison of the hard shackle
That pains the foot that suffers and feels it
Of such evil the cause is pure love
From whom, and owed to me is absent
For whom life and goods I hazard.

Sabe-se lá

Lá porque ando embaixo agora     
Não me neguem vossa estima
Que os alcatruzes da nora
Quando chora
Não andam sempre por cima
Rir da gente ninguém pode
Se o azar nos amofina
Pois se Deus não nos acode
Não há roda que mais rode
Do que a roda da má sina.

Sabe-se lá
Quando a sorte é boa ou má
Sabe-se lá
Na anhã o que virá
Breve desfaz – se
Uma vida honrada e boa
Ninguém sabe, quando nasce
Pró que nasce uma pessoa.

Lord only knows

Lord only knows why I’m going under now.
Don’t refuse your esteem for me
Because every bucket in the noria,
When the wheel goes around,
Will always be turned and overturned.
No one has a right to laugh at us
when the bad fortune strikes us.
And if God doesn’t watch over us,
No other wheel can be wilder
Than the wheel of misfortune

Lord only knows,
When one’s fortune is good or bad.
Lord only knows,
What tomorrow will bring us.
In the blink of an eye,
A honest and honored life is undone.
No one will never know when begins
What a person is meant to live

Confesso

Confesso que te amei, confesso       
Não coro de o dizer, não coro
Pareço outra mulher, pareço
Mas lá chorar por ti, não choro
Fugir do amor tem seu preço
E a noite em claro atravesso
Longe do meu travesseiro
Começo a ver que não esqueço
Mas lá perdão não te peço
Sem que me peças primeiro

De rastos a teus pés
Perdida te adorei
Até que me encontrei, perdida
Agora já não és
Na vida o meu senhor
Mas foste o meu amor, na vida

Não penses mais em mim, não penses 
Não estou nem p’ra te ouvir por carta
Convences as mulheres, convences
Estou farta de o saber, estou farta
Não escrevas mais nem me incenses
Quero que tu me diferences
Dessas que a vida te deu
A mim já não me pertences
Mas lá vencer-me não vences
Porque vencida estou eu

De rastos a teus pés
Perdida te adorei
Até que me encontrei, perdida
Agora já não és
Na vida o meu senhor
Mas foste o meu amor, na vida.

I confess

I confess that I loved you, yes, I do                    
I will not blush with saying that, sure, I won’t
I feel like a different woman now , yes, I do
But cry for you, I will not do
Escaping from love has a price
For that, I have been through nights of vigil
Unable to lay my head on the pillow
I start to see that it is not easy to forget
But ask pardon, I will not do
Not before you do it first

Crawling at your feet,
I used to adore you insanely
Until the day I found myself, fully lost
From now on, you are not
my lord anymore, the lord in my life
But sure you were my love for the lifetime

Don’t think about me anymore, please don’t       
I don’t want to hear from you, even by letters
You lure another women, yes, you do
I am exhausted of being told about, yes, I am
Don’t write me, don’t cajole me, either
I want you to know the difference between me
And these women that life has given to you
You don’t belong to me anymore
But you will not defeat my pride, no, you won’t
Because I have been defeated since long ago

Crawling at your feet,
I used to adore you insanely
Until the day I found myself, fully lost
From now on, you are not
my lord anymore, the lord in my life
But you were the love for the lifetime

Barco Negro

De manhã, que medo que me achasses feia,          
acordei tremendo deitada na areia.
Mas logo os teus olhos disseram que não!
E o sol penetrou no meu coração.

Vi depois numa rocha uma cruz
e o teu barco negro dançava na luz…
Vi teu braço acenando entre as velas já soltas…
Dizem as velhas da praia que não voltas.

São loucas… são loucas!

Eu sei, meu amor, que nem chegaste a partir,
pois tudo em meu redor me diz que estás sempre comigo.

No vento que lança areia nos vidros,
na água que canta no fogo mortiço,
no calor do leito dos bancos vazios,
dentro do meu peito estás sempre comigo.

Eu sei, meu amor, que nem chegaste a partir,

Black Boat

I feared the morning would find me in a bad way          
Shaking I awoke lying in the sand
But right away your eyes told me “no”!
And the sun penetrated my heart.

Then I saw a crucifix on a rock
And your black boat dancing in the light…
I saw your arm waving among the open sails…
The old women of the beach say you will not return.

They’re mad… they’re mad!

I know, my love, you haven’t left me
For everything around tells me you are always with me.

In the wind that blows sand on the windows
In the water that sings on the dying fire
In the warmth of the empty bed

In my heart you are always with me

I know, my love, you haven’t left.

Estranha Forma de Vida

Foi por vontade de Deus             
que eu vivo nesta ansiedade.
Que todos os ais são meus,
Que é toda a minha saudade.
Foi por vontade de Deus.

Que estranha forma de vida
tem este meu coração:
vive de forma perdida;
Quem lhe daria o condão?
Que estranha forma de vida.

Coração independente,
coração que não comando:
vive perdido entre a gente,
teimosamente sangrando,
coração independente.

Eu não te acompanho mais:
para, deixa de bater.
Se não sabes aonde vais,
porque teimas em correr,
eu não te acompanho mais.

Strange Manner of Being

It was the will of God                      
That I live in this anxiety.
Where all sighs are mine alone,
Where all longing belongs to me.

Such a strange manner of being
Does my heart possess;
It exists in a lost form;
Who gave it this magic?
Such a strange manner of being.

Independent heart,
A heart I do not control:
It finds itself lost among us,
Stubbornly bleeding,
Oh, independent heart.

I will accompany you no more:
Stop, cease your beating.
If you know not your destination,
Why must you insist on running?
I will accompany you no longer.

Fado Português

O Fado nasceu um dia,                        
quando o vento mal bulia
e o céu o mar prolongava,
na amurada dum veleiro,
no peito dum marinheiro
que, estando triste, cantava,
que, estando triste, cantava.

Ai, que lindeza tamanha,
meu chão , meu monte, meu vale,
de folhas, flores, frutas de oiro,
vê se vês terras de Espanha,
areias de Portugal,
olhar ceguinho de choro.

Na boca dum marinheiro
do frágil barco veleiro,
morrendo a canção magoada,
diz o pungir dos desejos
do lábio a queimar de beijos
que beija o ar, e mais nada,
que beija o ar, e mais nada.

Mãe, adeus. Adeus, Maria.           
Guarda bem no teu sentido
que aqui te faço uma jura:
que ou te levo à sacristia,
ou foi Deus que foi servido
dar-me no mar sepultura.

Ora eis que embora outro dia,
quando o vento nem bulia
e o céu o mar prolongava,
à proa de outro veleiro
velava outro marinheiro

que, estando triste, cantava,
que, estando triste, cantava.

Portuguese Fado

Fado was born on a day,                   
When the wind barely stirred,
And the seas elongated the skies.
On the main rail of a sailing ship,
In the chest of a seaman
While sorrowful he sang.
While sorrowful he sang.

Oh, what imense beauty,
My land, my hill, my valley
Of golden leaves, flowers and fruits
Do you see lands of Spain,
Sands of Portugal,
Vision blinded by tears.

In the mouth of a seaman
In the fragile sailing ship
The hurtful song fading
With the piercing of desires
From the lips burning with kisses
That kiss the air and nothing more,
That kiss the air and nothing more.

Farewell mother, farewell Maria,           
Keep this well in mind,
That I make this vow:
Either I will take you to the altar,
Or it was God who was served instead
Give me my rest at sea

Now, on another given day
When the wind barely stirred
And the seas elongated the skies
At the bow of another sailing ship
Another seaman sailed

While sorrowful he sang
While sorrowful he sang.

Que Deus Me Perdõe

Se a minha alma fechada          
Se pudesse mostrar,
E o que eu sofro calada
Se pudesse contar,
Toda a gente veria
Quanto sou desgraçada
Quanto finjo alegria
Quanto choro a cantar…

Que Deus me perdoe
Se é crime ou pecado
Mas eu sou assim
E fugindo ao fado,
Fugia de mim.
Cantando dou brado
E nada me dói
Se é pois um pecado
Ter amor ao fado
Que Deus me perdoe.

Quanto canto não penso
No que a vida é de má,
Nem sequer me pertenço,
Nem o mal se me dá.
Chego a querer a verdade
E a sonhar – sonho imenso –
Que tudo é felicidade
E tristeza não há.

May God Forgive Me

If only my hidden soul                         
Could reveal itself
And what I suffer in silence
Could be divulged
Everyone would see
Just what a wretch am I
How I fein happiness
How I cry as I sing

May God forgive me
If it is a crime or sin
But I am this way
And by running away from the fado
I would run from myself.
I clamour as I sing
And I feel no pain
If it is then a sin
To love fado
May God forgive me

When I sing I do not ponder
About how difficult life is
I am not even myself
Nor does pain affect me
I realize I want the truth
And by dreaming – an imense dream-
That all is happiness
And sadness does not exist.

Foi Deus

Nao sei, nao sabe ninguem       
Porque canto o fado neste tom magoado de dor e de pranto
E neste tormento, todo o sofrimento
Eu sinto que alma ca dentro se acalma nos versos que canto

Foi Deus que deu voz ao vento,
Luz ao firmamento e deu o azul as ondas do mar
Foi Deus que me pos no peito
Um rosario de penas que vou desfiando e choro a cantar

Fez poeta o rouxinol, pos no campo o alecrim
Deu as flores a primavera
Ai, e deu-me esta voz a mim

Se canto, nao sei o que canto
Misto de ventura, saudade, ternura e talvez amor
Mas sei que cantando, sinto mesmo quando
Se tem um desgosto e o pranto no rosto nos deixa melhor

Foi Deus, que deu luz aos olhos, deu o ouro ao sol e a prata ao luar
Foi deu que me pos no peito um rosario de penas que vou
Desfiando e choro a cantar.

It was God

I know not, no one knows 
Why I sing the fado in this hurtful tone of pain and mourning
And in this torment, all this suffering
I feel my soul is consoled by the verses I sing

It was God who gave voice to the wind,
Light to the heavens and made the waves of the sea blue
It was God who placed on my chest
A rosary of pain that I unravel as I cry and sing

He made a poet of the nightingale, he put rosemary in the fields
He gave flowers to the spring
Oh, he gave me this voice

If I sing, I know not what I sing
A mix of chance, longing, fondness and perhaps love
However I know that when singing, I feel that
When one has heartbreak and mourning on our face we are consoled

It was God who gave light to the eyes, gave gold to the sun and silver to moonlight
It was God who placed on my chest
A rosary of pain which
I unravel as I cry and sing

Tudo isso é fado

Perguntaste-me outro dia      
Se eu sabia o que era o fado
Disse-te que não sabia
Tu ficaste admirado
Sem saber o que dizia
Eu menti naquela hora
Disse-te que não sabia
Mas vou-te dizer agora

Almas vencidas
Noites perdidas
Sombras bizarras
Na Mouraria
Canta um rufia
Choram guitarras
Amor ciúme
Cinzas e lume
Dor e pecado
Tudo isto existe
Tudo isto é triste
Tudo isto é fado

Se queres ser o meu senhor
E teres-me sempre a teu lado
Nao me fales só de amor
Fala-me também do fado
E o fado é o meu castigo
Só nasceu pr’a me perder
O fado é tudo o que digo
Mais o que eu não sei dizer.

All of it is Fado

You asked me the other day                  
If I knew what fado was
I told you I did not know
You became surprised
Without knowing what I was saying
I lied at that time
I told you I did not know
But I will now tell you

Vanquished souls
Lost nights
Bizarre shadows
In the Mouraria*
A pimp sings
Guitars cry
Jealous love
Ashes and fire
Pain and sin
All of this exists
All of this is sorrowful
All of this is fado

If you wish to be my man
And always have me by your side
Speak to me not only of love
Speak to me of fado as well
And fado is my punishment
It was born solely to make me lost
Fado is everything I say
Plus the things I cannot explain.

* “Mouraria” refers to the moorish quarter in Lisbon. It was here that the Moors were said to have their ghetto.

 

Basta de Mala


One of my earliest childhood memories was listening to Amalia’s songs “Coimbra” – better known by its English title “April in Portugal” and “Basta de Mala.” This second song struck terror in me because of the sounds of  breaking and incipient violence that preceded the melody. I would put my hands over my ears and run for cover out of earshot until I knew the traumatic introduction was past, and then come out of my hiding place to listen to the rest of the song. Beyond the title (“Enough of the Bad”) I have no idea of  what the lyrics mean, and have had no success finding them on the web, but Amalia’s voice –  that voice – with all its clearly audible layers of timbre – had tremendous resonance for me, and it captured my heart, and the dry tinder of my childish imagination caught fire from this ravishing voice which scorched my soul forever.

Amalia’s Genre, Fado, is unique to Portugal, and the word ‘fado’  – meaning fate – is finely apposite. Its tone and lyricism is drenched in fatalism and unassuageable longing.  This is something that bleeds through even in the most mangled of translations, as are some I have been compelled to include in this post for lack of better alternatives. Not knowing Portuguese, I was able to make some corrections based on extrapolations of my limited knowledge of Spanish, but there were many faults I was unable to amend.

Fate is a force beyond the control of human beings, and the lyrics of Fado speak of how fate has determined the course of ordinary lives, helpless to resist it in every important respect. The dividends resulting from the investment Portugal made in colonial expansion of centuries past did not continue paying out for very long, and certainly most poor people did not benefit either in the past or in the present. The circumstances of their lives and livelihoods were not constructed to withstand hardship unscathed, or the vicissitudes of daily life and loss. The song “A casa da Mariquinhas”  is about the home of a young girl which has now become a pawn shop. It is a sequel to the song of the same name, by Alfredo Marceneiro of Mariquinhas house in happier times, and in a real sense, it is the story of fado – how a happy time can be so easily be transformed to sadness.

Fado is a blend of complex emotions. It is about loss and love and helplessness against the hardships of life and the implacability of fate, but sometimes it carries a defiant note – and even occasionally some consolation – as the “ginjinhas” in this last song “A casa da Mariquinhas,” but perhaps the greatest antidote to the trials and difficulties of life is Fado itself.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fado

Fado (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈfaðu], “destiny, fate”) is a music genre which can be traced to the 1820s in Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. Fado historian and scholar, Rui Vieira Nery, states that “the only reliable information on the history of Fado was orally transmitted and goes back to the 1820s and 1830s at best. But even that information was frequently modified within the generational transmission process that made it reach us today.” In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia (loosely captured by the word “saudade”, or longing). However, in reality fado is simply a form of song which can be about anything, but must follow a certain structure. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade which symbolizes the feeling of loss (a permanent, irreparable loss and its consequent life lasting damage). Amália Rodrigues, Carlos do Carmo, Mariza, Mafalda Arnauth, and Cristina Branco are amongst the most famous individuals associated with the genre.

The Portuguese past was deeply interwoven in the Ceylon of my childhood. Sinhalese (the dominant language in Sri Lanka, as modern day Ceylon is known) is thickly sprinkled with Portuguese words – pintura, viduruwa, janela, sapattu, camisa, kalisama, bothama, lensuwa, bastame, panawa, mesa, pena, tinta, baila, cansadhu, pan, vinakiri, temperadhu, and a thousand others,  and these words still retain their practical currency in the Sinhalese language today. Many Sinhalese have Portuguese names – de Silva, Perera, Fernando, Gonsales, Rodrigo, Soysa etc, and  many still continue to follow the Catholic religion of their Portuguese ancestors.  Sinhalese men of a few generations ago, whose custom it was to wear their long hair in a knot, followed the Portuguese style of wearing curved tortoise-shell combs in their hair, and women wore gathered ‘frill’ over their blouses called a ‘manthe‘ – no doubt derived from the word ‘mantila.’

When the Dutch replaced the Portuguese as colonial rulers, many Dutch servants of the Dutch East India Company, some of my own ancestors included, intermarried with people of Portuguese descent, and Portuguese became their common language rather than Dutch. I remember my paternal grandmother speaking Portuguese with my grand-aunt, something she reverted to when they wished to speak in secret within my hearing. This grand-aunt told me that her uncle (of Scottish descent) whom the nieces and nephews referred to by his last name, Brodie, spoke Portuguese, as no doubt did his sister Rosalind Maude Brodie, my great-grandmother, born November 8, 1874.

The sermons in the Dutch Reformed Church in Wolvendaal on the outskirts of Colombo, in Ceylon, used to be preached in Portuguese. Dias, de Sielwe (Dutch spelling of de Silva) d’ Orta,and Pereira are all names from my family genealogy. Many of these ancestors were probably Jewish, and their names (of the pear tree, of the forest, of the orchard)  suggest they were fabricated, but there is no doubt at all of their Portuguese origins.

I like to think that Amalia’s music struck me so powerfully not just on its own unimpugnable merits, but also because of a echo from my  genetic past, and the residue of the historical past which lingered like a fine mist around my childhood. Her voice still thrills me and causes my skin to prickle, and the hairs on the back of my neck to bristle. It is an ecstatic voice, rich with feeling and intensity. It is instantly recognisable, and there is no other like it in all the world. There is no way to listen to it without being carried away to a deep interior world, where pain and elation combine to form an intoxicating magic.

A casa da Mariquinhas

Foi no Domingo passado que passei    
À casa onde vivia a Mariquinhas
Mas está tudo tão mudado
Que não vi em nenhum lado
As tais janelas que tinham tabuinhas

Do rés-do-chão ao telhado
Não vi nada, nada, nada
Que pudesse recordar-me a Mariquinhas
E há um vidro pegado e azulado
Onde via as tabuinhas

Entrei e onde era a sala agora está
a secretária e um sujeito que é lingrinhas
Mas não vi colchas com barra
Nem viola nem guitarra
Nem espreitadelas furtivas das vizinhas

O tempo cravou a garra                                 
Na alma daquela casa
Onde às vezes petiscávamos sardinhas
Quando em noites de guitarra e de farra
Estava alegre a Mariquinhas

As janelas tão garridas que ficavam
Com cortinados de chita às pintinhas
Perderam de todo a graça porque é hoje uma vidraça
Com cercaduras de lata às voltinhas

E lá pra dentro quem passa
Hoje é pra ir aos penhores
Entregar o usurário, umas coisinhas
Pois chega a esta desgraça toda a graça
Da casa da Mariquinhas

Pra terem feito da casa o que fizeram                      
Melhor fora que a mandassem prás alminhas
Pois ser casa de penhor
O que foi viveiro de amor
É ideia que não cabe cá nas minhas

Recordações de calor
E das saudades o gosto eu vou procurar esquecer
Numas ginjinhas

Pois dar de beber à dor é o melhor
Já dizia a Mariquinhas
Pois dar de beber à dor é o melhor
Já dizia a Mariquinhas

 

Mariquinha’s house

It was last Sunday I passed                               
the house Mariquinhas lived
but everything is so changed
Nowhere did I see
Those windows with their blinds.

From the floor to the ceiling
I saw nothing, nothing, nothing
that could remind me Mariquinhas,
and there is a blue pane, stuck in the place
where the blinds used to be.

I went in and where the room was, now
there is a skinny guy sitting at the desk,
but I did not see bedspreads
with embroidered borders anymore,
nor viola, nor guitar
neither the furtive nosy glances
from the women in the neighborhood.

Time spiked its claws                                            
into the soul of that house,
where we many times snacked sardines,
when in nights of celebration with a guitar
Mariquinhas used to feel so joyful

The windows looked so bright and coloured
With curtains of a bobble patterned fabric
They lost all the grace
because they are just a pane today
with bent iron frames.

And anyone who enters there today,
they come in only to get to the pawn shop,
to deliver to the loan shark a couple of things.
This is the misery that the grace of
Mariquinhas’s house has come to

Having done what they did to the house           
Better if they had blown it up,
because, turning into a pawn shop
what was a nest of love
is an idea that does not sit well with me.

Memories of warmth
and the taste of nostalgia
I will try to forget these things
by relishing some ginjinhas,*
because “feeding the thirst
of my pain is the best thing to do”
as Mariquinhas used to say.
Because “feeding the thirst
of my pain is the best thing to do”
as Mariquinhas used to say

*Ginjinhas is a drink made by infusing  alcohol with sour cherries and prune plums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Casa da Mariquinhas

É numa rua bizarra                        

A casa da Mariquinhas
Tem na sala uma guitarra
E janelas com tabuinhas

Vive com muitas amigas
Aquela de quem vos falo
E não há maior regalo
Que a vida de raparigas
É doida pelas cantigas
Como no campo a cigarra
Canta o fado à guitarra
De comovida até chora
A casa alegre onde mora
É numa rua bizarra

Para se tornar notada
Usa coisas esquesitas
Muitas rendas, muitas fitas     
Lenços de cor variada.
Pretendida, desejada
Altiva como as rainhas
Ri das muitas, coitadinhas
Que a censuram rudemente
Por verem cheia de gente
A casa da Mariquinhas

É de aparência singela
Mas muito mal mobilada
E no fundo não vale nada
O tudo da casa dela
No vão de cada janela
Sobre coluna, uma jarra
Colchas de chita com barra
Quadros de gosto magano
Em vez de ter um piano
Tem na sala uma guitarra                

P’ra guardar o parco espólio
Um cofre forte comprou
E como o gaz acabou
Ilumina-se a petróleo.
Limpa as mobílias com óleo
De amêndoa doce e mesquinhas
Passam defronte as vizinhas
P’ra ver o que lá se passa
Mas ela tem por pirraça
Janelas com tabuinhas

 The House of Mariquinhas             

On a quaint little street
is the house of Mariquinhas.
It has a guitar in the parlour
and little shutters on the windows.She lives there with many friends
over there, she of whom I speak;
there are no great luxuries there,
but the lives of the young girls
who are crazy about songs
seem like field of cicadas.
They sing fado accompanied by a guitar
so that one is moved to tears,
where she lives, in that happy house       
on a quaint little street.

One can notice there
many exquisite things,
embroideries and ribbons
and linens of many colours.
They wish to play make-believe
putting on airs like queens
and they laugh at the poor women
who try to scold them
for having a house full of people.

It had a simple appearance,
and very shabby furniture
which in fact was quite worthless.
One could also find in her house,
placed in each window
a jar placed on a little stand.
There were bedspreads of printed cotton
in stripes and checks, all in very poor taste,
and instead of a piano
in the parlour there was a guitar.

To keep safe an old pair of ankle boots,
she bought a sturdy trunk,
and as the gas was all used up
the light came from a kerosine lamp,
the furniture there was polished with oil
and the almirah little and cute.
The neighbourhood women passing by in front
try to catch a glimpse inside,
but they find to their great annoyance,
that the shutters are always closed.

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