April 12, 2005

Gracias a La Vida

As a child, I like any other child, heard many song lyrics I didn't quite understand. In my household there were some songs that had such a sweet sad hope to them that I somehow knew they meant something, not just to me, but to a larger group of people than I could imagine. One of the songs I heard often enough to know without knowing was Violeta Parra's Gracias a La Vida. I loved the way her words flowed and the effect they had on the adults around me. As I got older and understood more of the world I lived in, I began to appreciate the subtleties of the language she'd used, and wondered if some day I would feel as passionately about someone or something as she had. Later, during a difficult time when I was not seeing the darling-but-not-yet spouse, I finally understood that sweet sad hopeful combination.

This morning I woke up and found I was humming it under my breath. I have no real reason for it to be there, but there it is.

I am no good at translating, so I thank the person who created
this website for the english translation provided below the original.

Gracias a la vida (Thanks to Life)

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto,
Me dio dos luceros que cuando los abro,
Perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco,
Y en el alto cielo su fondo estrellado,
Y en la multitudes el hombre que yo amo.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto,
Me ha dado el sonido y el abecedario,
Y con el las palabras que pienso y declaro,
Madre, amigo, hermano y luz alumbrando,
La ruta del alma de el que estoy amando.


Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto,
Me ha dado el oído que en todo su ancho,
Graba noche y día grillos y canarios,
Martillos, turbinas, ladridos, chubascos,
Y la voz tan tierna de mi buen amado.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto,
Me ha dado la marcha de mis pies cansados,
Con ellos anduve ciudades y charcos,
Playas y desiertos, montañas y llanos,
Y la casa tuya, tu calle y tu patio.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto,
Me ha dado la risa, me ha dado el llanto,
Así yo distingo dicha de quebranto,
Los dos materiales que forman mi canto,
Y el canto de ustedes que es mi propio canto.

¡Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto!


Thanks to life which has given me so much,
It gave me two eyes that when I open them,
I can distinguish perfectly black from white,
And in the high heaven its starry background,
And in the multitudes the man I love.

Thanks to life which has given me so much,
It's given me sound and the alphabet,
And with it the words that I think and declare,
Mother, friend, brother, and burning light,
The route of the soul of the one I am loving.

Thanks to life which has given me so much,
It's given me sound that in all its magnitude,
Records night and day crickets and canaries,
Hammers, turbines, dogs' barks, storms,
And the voice so tender of my good beloved.

Thanks to life which has given me so much,
It's given me the steps of my tired feet,
With them I walked though cities and puddles,
Beaches and deserts, mountains and plains,
And your house, your street, and your patio.

Thanks to life which has given me so much,
It's given me laughter, it's given me tears,
Thereby I distinguish good fortune from ruin,
The two materials that make up my song,
And the song of all of you that is my own song.

Thanks to life which has given me so much!

This can go under:
of from . And yes, it's dedicated to the one I love.

3 comments:

sisters sister said...

Hello there,

I have a copy of that song translated by mom....somewheres....what a rather odd coincidence?

Cin said...

I'd be interested to see if her translation is any different from the one I found.

I have the version recorded by Mercedes Sosa but grew up listening to Violeta's original version, and didn't know Joan Baez had recorded a version until quite recently.

ms.seuss said...

I MUST find this song again. Thank you Cin. Indeed, life has given us laughter and tears and the story to write ( song to sing ) because of it.

Gracias a la Vida