Happy Birthday Violeta

Today is the birthday of Chilean singer/songwriter/artist Violeta Parra. In her honor, we have inserted the lyrics (in English first, then the original Spanish verse) of one of her most loved songs. “Gracias a la Vida” or “Thanks to Life” is one of the most covered Latin American songs of all history. It has been covered by Mercedes Sosa(Argentina), Joan Baez(US), Nana Mouskouri(Greece), Arja Saijonmaa(Finland), Placido Domingo(Spain) and Laura Pausini(Italy) among others.

We have previously posted about Violeta Parra here, with a link to documentary of her life (in Spanish).

Thanks to the life

Thank you, life, for giving me so much.
She gave me two bright stars, that when opened,
Can perfectly distinguish black from white
And high in the sky, the starry background,
And within the crowd the man that I love.

Thank you, life, for giving me so much.
She gave me ears that, in all of its wide
Record- night and day -crickets and canaries,
Hammers, turbines, bricks and showers,
And the tender voice of my beloved.

Thank you, life, for giving me so much.
She gave me sound and the alphabet.
With them the words that I think and declare:
“Mother,” “Friend,” “Brother” and light brightening,
The way of the soul of my lover.

Thank you, life, for giving me so much.
She gave me the wandering of my tired feet.
With them I’ve walked cities and puddles
Valleys and deserts, mountains and plains.
And your house, your street and your courtyard.

Thank you, life, for giving me so much.
She gave me a heart, that shakes its contention,
When I see the fruit of the human brain,
When I see kindness so far from what is bad,
When I look inside your bright eyes…

Thank you, life, for giving me so much.
She gave me laughter as well as mourning.
With both I distinguish happiness from pain –
Two of the ingredients that comform my singing,
As well as your song, that is mine too,
And the song of all, that is my own singing.
Thank you, life, for giving me so much.

Gracias a la Vida

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 las multitudes el hombre que yo amo

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 bien amado

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

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 dio el corazón que agita su marco
Cuando miro el fruto del cerebro humano
Cuando miro al bueno tan lejos del malo
Cuando miro al fondo de tus ojos claros

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado la risa y 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 mismo canto
Y el canto de todos que es mi propio canto
Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto

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