“Smaragdos Margara” by Dúo Guardabarranco, English translation of lyrics

“Smaragdos Margara (Claviceps Purpura)”, 1995
Album: Si Buscabas (If You Searched), 1985
Singers: Salvador Cardenal and Katia Cardenal
Style: Soft folk music, strong vocals; hauntingly pretty and ambiguous. I like how music travels the world. I actually first heard this song as a cover on Une Histoire de Famille, a French language album by the Montreal band Hart-Rouge.
Country: Nicaragua
Listen: original by Dúo Guardabarranco (softly spoken) on YouTube or Amazon.

Translation:

Con una aguja con hilo blanco,
Con la carrucha en tu regazo,
Cóseme el flanco, la herida aguda,
La negra llaga de mi costado.

With a needle with white thread,
With the spool on your lap,
Sew up my side, my acute wound,
The black ulcer on my side.

Con una aguja con hilo blanco,
Con la carrucha en tu regazo,
Cóseme el flanco, la herida aguda,
La negra llaga de mi costado.
Mi desventura, ah~

With a needle with white thread,
With the spool on your lap,
Sew up my side, my acute wound,
The black ulcer on my side.
My misfortune, ah~

Tú sola, bruja,
Con tus puntadas
Lentas y largas de hábil sutura,
Ciégala, ciégala, ciégala, ciégala-ah-ah-ah~ (x2).

You alone, witch,
With your stitches,
Slow and long with skilled seaming,
Seal it, seal it, seal it, seal it-it-it-it~ (x2).

Con una aguja con hilo blanco,
Con la carrucha en tu regazo,
Cóseme el flanco, la herida aguda,
La negra llaga de mi costado.
Mi desventura, ah~

With a needle with white thread,
With the spool on your lap,
Sew up my side, my acute wound,
The black ulcer on my side.
My misfortune, ah~

Tú sola, bruja,
Con tus puntadas
Lentas y largas de hábil sutura,
Ciégala, ciégala, ciégala, ciégala-ah-ah-ah~ (x2).

You alone, witch,
With your stitches,
Slow and long with skilled seaming,
Seal it, seal it, seal it, seal it-it-it-it~ (x2).

Muda boca, cerrada por amor, nunca~
Mute mouth, closed for love, never~

Translation Notes:

This song was written by Nicaraguan poet, Carlos Martínez Rivas, with Salvador Cardenal.

Smaragdos Margara

I suspect this is a name, perhaps a reference to another poem. I think it refers either to something “emerald” (perhaps a location name) or more likely the martyr Smaragdos. If you know, please comment.

smaragdos [Latin(?) and Greek] = emerald

According to 20,000 Baby Names from Around the World (accessed April 2012):

SMARAGDOS (Σμάραγδος). Greek name meaning “emerald.”
Σμάραγδος (Smaragdos) is supposed to have been named from μαίρω or μαρμαίρω (to twinkle or sparkle), whence the dog-star was called Μαῖρα (Maira). This beauteous precious stone, bearing the colour of hope, was further recommended to Christians because the rainbow of St. John’s vision was “in sight like unto an emerald.” Thus, Smaragdos was one of the early martyrs; and the same occurs occasionally in early times, once as an exarch of Ravenna; but it was never frequent enough to be a recognized name, except in two very remote quarters, namely, as the Spanish Esmeralda and the Cornish Meraud, the last nearly, if not quite, extinct. (History of Christian Names, Yonge, 1884)

Another name etymology website, Greek-Names.info, says:

…Smaragdos, one of the 40 martyrs of Sevastia. According to the Greek Orthodox tradition there were 40 men and women who suffered a tortured death in the town of Sevastia in 320AD. These martyrs, along with Smaragdos were soldiers during the reign of Likinos the Emperor, who refused to follow the pagan symbols and were sentenced to death.

Con la carrucha en tu regazo
With the spool/spindle on your lap

This refers to a sewing instrument.

La negra llaga de mi costado. / Mi desventura, ah~
The black ulcer on my side. / My misfortune, ah~

costado [m. noun] = the side of the torso, between the shoulder and the hip

Other related words:
costilla [f. noun] = rib
acostar [verb] = to lay down; to go to bed

desventura [f. noun] = misfortune; bad luck; misery
The word desventura is often used with the word aventura (adventure) when describing stories of ill-fated ventures. An alternative would be mala suerte (lit. bad luck).

Ciégala, ciégala, ciégala, ciégala-ah-ah-ah~</i>
Seal it, seal it, seal it, seal it-it-it~
Blind her, blind her, blind her, blind her-er-er-er~ [*alt., incorrect]

cegar [verb] = to blind; to block; to seal up or close

Back when I listened to this song just because it was pretty, and didn’t listen carefully enough to translate, I thought this line was saying to blind the witch. “To blind” is certainly the more common meaning of the verb cegar, but I am now sure that the lyrics mean “to seal up” the wound since we are talking about sewing and a nasty cut to the side. I think this song is a dying person pleading with their healer to fix them.

Link – an interesting comment speculating about the song’s meaning.

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