edited January 11 in Poems
As deep as the self allows,
we have a reservoir
of knowledge
about the other,
but what lies within
remains unchartered.

In the Tango
partners embrace
each other’s fervor,
release transport
and grace into the world,
the unknown always
at the heart, opening
to full presence.

You realize it can all vanish
in a split second,
between control and loss.
The balance shifts
from your grasp
to an emptiness that makes
the richness come alive.

Foundations shift,
the center aches.
You sense you both exist
for want of the other,
fully apprehend loss,
and duende appears
as the beauty of all.

The viejo, white hair
immaculate, sits to the side,
unable to make the moves
that he graced partner
and onlookers with
in his day,
and observes spirit and anima
glide across the floor.

(Atrapadita - a tango step - The woman is a little bit trapped - in a cute way)
Thanked by 1Gracy


  • Posts: 0
    Hi James, great poem about the tango, a pleasure to read.
    IMO, Atrapadita is more sensual than cute, but never mind. 
    I wonder about using the word "duende" (dwarf) in this context. Something must have slipped my memory.

    I have nothing to nit, just comments. Like "the viejo", because in Argentina quite elderly men dance the tango beautifully.
    Often far better than youngsters, who're more into rock, reggae or whatever. A tango dance floor is full of white haired men gliding gracefully with women who are also middle aged, or over. So the viejo in your poem would have to be very old indeed!

    Of course, there are professional tango dancers who compete in international events. In this case, the women are not particularly young, I'd say in their thirties.or forties. Argentine couples often win or are placed high in the rankings.

    So I've enjoyed your incursion into the tango scenario, not often found in poetry.
    Kudos to you, Gracy

  • Posts: 378

    gracy - When I was living in Buenos Aires, I saw a movie called "Fermin," about a very old man (he dies at the end of the film) who was once one of the greatest dancers in the City.  The film opens with him in a mental facility being newly tended by a young psychiatrist who becomes fascinated with the tango while treating him and comes up with the idea of taking Fermin to his old bar where he used to dance - he goes against hospital regs and has the help of Fermin's daighter, who has been teaching him the tango. They get him there and he comes alive out of his catatonia and that's  the image I've used in the poem. Too invalided mentally and physically to participate, he enjoys, just days before his death, a return to his youth.  Great movie - you should try to get hold of it - in Spanish with subtitles.  Glad you showed up and read this - it was languishing.  Best - RC
  • Posts: 378
    All through Andalusia, from the rock of Jaén to the snail’s-shell of Cadiz, people constantly talk about the duende and recognise it wherever it appears with a fine instinct. That wonderful singer El Lebrijano, creator of the Debla, said: ‘On days when I sing with duende no one can touch me.’: the old Gypsy dancer La Malena once heard Brailowsky play a fragment of Bach, and exclaimed: ‘Olé! That has duende!’ but was bored by Gluck, Brahms and Milhaud. And Manuel Torre, a man who had more culture in his veins than anyone I’ve known, on hearing Falla play his own Nocturno del Generalife spoke this splendid sentence: ‘All that has dark sounds has duende.’ And there’s no deeper truth than that.

    So, then, the duende is a force not a labour, a struggle not a thought. I heard an old maestro of the guitar say: ‘The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning, it’s not a question of skill, but of a style that’s truly alive: meaning, it’s in the veins: meaning, it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation.
    This ‘mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained’ is, in sum, the spirit of the earth, the same duende that scorched Nietzche’s heart as he searched for its outer form on the Rialto Bridge and in Bizet’s music, without finding it, and without seeing that the duende he pursued had leapt from the Greek mysteries to the dancers of Cadiz and the headless Dionysiac scream of Silverio’s siguiriya.
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