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        CANDOMBE

Black men dance, dance, dance
round the roaring flames,
Tum-cutum, tum-cutum,
round the roaring flames.

Under coconuts, before ocean waves,
ferocious, lascivious teeth,
bodies coated with mud and molasses,
armpit smells, dangling breasts,
and coal-glazed eyes
the deep gongo ignites.
Black men dance at night
round the roaring flames,
Tum-cutum, turn cu-tum,
round the roaring flames.

Who is the bravest chief?
Which the loveliest maiden?
Where sleeps the meanest croc?
What spell killed Babissa?
Black men dance at night
round the roaring flames,
Tum-cutum, turn cu-tum,
in the island's solitude.

The moon is a silver tortoise
swimming in placid night.
Who'll be the fearless fisher
to bring it trapped in his net:
Sokola, Babiro, Bombassa,
Yombofre, Bulon or Babissa?
Tum-cutum, tum-cutum,
round the roaring flames.

Look, the moon, the silver fish,
the old evil tortoise
pissing into the night's water
its sedating, enchanting juice...
Catch the moon, catch the moon,
bring it dangling on a hook.
Black men dance at night
round the roaring flames,
Tum-cutum, turn cu-tum,
round the roaring flames.

autógrafo
Luis Palés Matos
Luis Palés Matos
English Translation: Julio Marzán


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