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La Llorona

(Associated with this post and its comments. For the legend of la Llorona see here.)

Lyrics – as sung by Chavela Vargas:

Todos me dicen el Negro, Llorona
Negro, pero cariñoso
Yo soy como el chile verde, Llorona
Picante, pero sabrosoAy de mí, Llorona, Llorona
Llorona, llévame al río
Tápame con tu rebozo, Llorona
Porque me muero de frió

A un Santo Cristo de fierro, Llorona
Mis penas le conté yo
Cuales no serían mis penas, Llorona
Que el Santo Cristo lloró

Yo te soñaba dormida, Llorona
Dormida te estabas quieta
Pero en llegando el olvido, Llorona
Soñé que estabas despierta

Si porque te quiero quieres, Llorona
Quieres que te quiera más
Si ya te he dado la vida, Llorona
¿Qué mas quieres? ¿Quieres más?

They all call me the black one, Weeping Woman
Black, but loving
I’m like the green chili, Weeping Woman
Biting, but deliciousWoe poor me, Weeping Woman, Weeping Woman
Weeping Woman, take me to the river
Cover me with your shawl, Weeping Woman
Cause I’m dying of cold

To an all-enduring Jesus Christ, Weeping Woman
Μy troubles I told
Such were my troubles, Weeping Woman
That even Jesus Christ wept

I dreamt of you sleeping, Weeping Woman
Asleep you were quiet
But as oblivion approached, Weeping Woman
I dreamt you were awake

If because I love you you want me, Weeping Woman
You want me to love you more
But if I’ve even given you my life, Weeping Woman
What else do you want? You want more?

Chavela Vargas (from the movie “Frida”):

Lila Downs:

Chavela Vargas – THE performance:



19 thoughts on “La Llorona

  1. oh

    Thank you. It’s beautiful.

    Posted by Tess | May 12, 2009, 03:42
  2. all-enduring
    is good.

    I’d thought elemental, but that’s perhaps a little too vague maybe.

    Posted by Tess | May 13, 2009, 23:23
  3. Pan, hmmm.
    Not exactly as I’d pictured you.

    Posted by Tess | May 13, 2009, 23:24
  4. Ok ok, back to the other one!

    “All-enduring” is the best I could think of. It’s a mediocre solution, however, because it’s an explanation: a really good translation would be an equivalent figure of speech.

    Posted by Pan. | May 14, 2009, 03:00
  5. So what do your friends call you? ((when they know you’re listening)

    Yes, I asked my husband, but he didn’t have any ideas. And my daughter, whose Spanish is great has not replied yet.

    Have you ever looked at the “Visual Thesaurus” which I used to play with. It’s quite changed, but give it a try:

    Posted by Tess | May 14, 2009, 15:19
  6. No, the visual thesaurus is not useful for a good translation without more knowledge than I have about Mexican stories or myths, or Catholic imagery. (it used to be free, long ago, and was fun to play with, and might be worth subscribing to? dunno)
    Or try looking at it backwards: “un Santo Cristo de fierro”—a christ who endured what? I’m only thinking aloud, writing stream of though…

    Posted by Tess | May 15, 2009, 02:47
  7. Before trying this, I had consulted a friend of mine who teaches Spanish. According to her, the meaning is that even Jesus, who could endure so much, couldn’t help but crying.

    (As for your previous question, my actual name is Panajotis with the j pronounced as in German.)

    Posted by Panos | May 15, 2009, 04:57
  8. Have I told you how much I enjoy conversation with you?
    Very much.

    (as for your name, it’s not difficult. I like it. Perhaps the “ghi” is unusual for most English speakers? and if you are looking for a nickname, just miss-spell it [spell it phonetically] with the “j.”)

    (as for my name, I’m sure you have googled and know it’s a nom de plume. 1.tess is “one of a tessellation”—making tessellations was a hobby of mine for several years. And you have my real last name in my email address.)

    Posted by Tess | May 15, 2009, 06:03
  9. Thank you for the lovely reminder that we really must go check out Frida again from the DVD library. (Almost a cross-post there, Pan?) :)

    Posted by Jennifer | May 16, 2009, 13:10
  10. @Tess: No I hadn’t googled: I would do that in order to find useful information or solve a problem. I had no reason to do that in your case! You mean Tess is not your name?

    @Jennifer: You’re welcome! Hayek was great in that movie: really a person in flames.

    What is a “cross-post”?

    Posted by Panos | May 17, 2009, 04:31
  11. Certainly fiery, but that’s what made Frida Frida.

    A cross-post, as in “from one blog to another”. :)

    Posted by Jennifer | May 17, 2009, 09:14
  12. I’ve been Tess for longer than this:
    (not what my passport says, though)

    Posted by Tess | May 18, 2009, 05:08
  13. @Jennifer: Ah I see. Well it’s my blog: I’m entitled to posting something irrelevant now and then!

    @Tess: For me you will remain Tess, if you don’t mind. I like Tess.

    Posted by Panos | May 18, 2009, 08:13
  14. well good. I am Tess—just not legal. ≥^,^≤

    Posted by Tess | May 18, 2009, 15:47
  15. I did an English version (i.e., more a poetic rendering than a literal translation) of several verses when I was working on a setting of the song for string orchestra–three of the verses are the same as ones given here. These are my versions of those, for what it’s worth:

    They call me black-hearted, Llorona, Llorona,
    black-hearted, and one who beguiles.
    And like jalapeños burn you, Llorona,
    you’ll pay if you yield to my wiles.

    O take pity on me, Llorona, Llorona,
    and down to the river let’s go.
    Hold me closely inside your shawl, Llorona,
    for I think I shall die in the cold.

    To a Savior who bore the world’s pain, Llorona,
    I confided my horrible grief.
    But my sorrowful suffering was such, Llorona,
    that it made even Jesus weep.

    Posted by Ed Lein | April 8, 2010, 18:53
  16. @Ed: Welcome and thanks for sharing.

    It’s great that you managed to do rhyme, or at least assonance, with no harm to the meaning (maybe except line 4); that’s beyond my powers.

    Nice piece too – pity you only have a simulation. “Chaconne-like” quite fitting to the subject!

    Posted by Panos | April 9, 2010, 06:31
  17. @Ed Lein:

    Posted by Tess | April 10, 2010, 02:13


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