El Gaucho Martín Fierro

I - Cantor y Gaucho.
1
Aquí me pongo a cantar
Al compás de la vigüela,
Que el hombre que lo desvela
Una pena estraordinaria
Como la ave solitaria
Con el cantar se consuela.


2
Pido a los Santos del Cielo
Que ayuden mi pensamiento;
Les pido en este momento
Que voy a cantar mi historia
Me refresquen la memoria
Y aclaren mi entendimiento.

3
Vengan Santos milagrosos,
Vengan todos en mi ayuda,
Que la lengua se me añuda
Y se me turba la vista;
Pido a Dios que me asista
En una ocasión tan ruda.

4
Yo he visto muchos cantores,
Con famas bien obtenidas,
Y que después de adquiridas
No las quieren sustentar
Parece que sin largar
se cansaron en partidas


5
Mas ande otro criollo pasa
Martín Fierro ha de pasar;
nada lo hace recular
ni los fantasmas lo espantan,
y dende que todos cantan
yo también quiero cantar.


6
Cantando me he de morir
Cantando me han de enterrar,
Y cantando he de llegar
Al pie del eterno padre:
Dende el vientre de mi madre
Vine a este mundo a cantar.

7
Que no se trabe mi lengua
Ni me falte la palabra:
El cantar mi gloria labra
Y poniéndome a cantar,
Cantando me han de encontrar
Aunque la tierra se abra.


8
Me siento en el plan de un bajo
A cantar un argumento:
Como si soplara el viento
Hago tiritar los pastos;
Con oros, copas y bastos
Juega allí mi pensamiento.


9
Yo no soy cantor letrao,
Mas si me pongo a cantar
No tengo cuándo acabar
Y me envejezco cantando:
Las coplas me van brotando
Como agua de manantial.

10
Con la guitarra en la mano
Ni las moscas se me arriman,
Naides me pone el pie encima,
Y cuando el pecho se entona,
Hago gemir a la prima
Y llorar a la bordona.

11
Yo soy toro en mi rodeo
Y torazo en rodeo ajeno;
Siempre me tuve por güeno
Y si me quieren probar,
Salgan otros a cantar
Y veremos quién es menos.

12
No me hago al lao de la güeya
Aunque vengan degollando,
Con los blandos yo soy blando
Y soy duro con los duros,
Y ninguno en un apuro
Me ha visto andar tutubiando.

13
En el peligro, ¡qué Cristos!
El corazón se me enancha,
Pues toda la tierra es cancha,
Y de eso naides se asombre:
El que se tiene por hombre
Ande quiere hace pata ancha.


14
Soy gaucho, y entiendaló
Como mi lengua lo esplica:
Para mí la tierra es chica
Y pudiera ser mayor;
Ni la víbora me pica
Ni quema mi frente el sol

15
Nací como nace el peje
En el fondo de la mar;
Naides me puede quitar
Aquello que Dios me dio
Lo que al mundo truje yo
Del mundo lo he de llevar.

16
Mi gloria es vivir tan libre
Como el pájaro del cielo:
No hago nido en este suelo
Ande hay tanto que sufrir,
Y naides me ha de seguir
Cuando yo remuento el vuelo.


17
Yo no tengo en el amor
Quien me venga con querellas;
Como esas aves tan bellas
Que saltan de rama en rama,
Yo hago en el trébol mi cama,
Y me cubren las estrellas.

18
Y sepan cuantos escuchan
De mis penas el relato,
Que nunca peleo ni mato
Sino por necesidá,
Y que a tanta alversidá
Sólo me arrojó el mal trato

19
Y atiendan la relación
que hace un gaucho perseguido,
que padre y marido ha sido
empeñoso y diligente,
y sin embargo la gente
lo tiene por un bandido


II - Ayer y hoy.

20
Ninguno me hable de penas,
porque yo penado vivo,
y naides se muestre altivo
aunque en el estribo esté:
que suele quedarse a pie
el gaucho mas alvertido.

21
Junta esperencia en la vida
hasta pa dar y prestar
quien la tiene que pasar
entre sufrimiento y llanto,
porque nada enseña tanto
como el sufrir y el llorar.

22
Viene el hombre ciego al mundo,
cuartiándolo la esperanza,
y a poco andar ya lo alcanzan
las desgracias a empujones,
¡la pucha, que trae liciones
el tiempo con sus mudanzas!

23
Yo he conocido esta tierra
en que el paisano vivía
y su ranchito tenía
y sus hijos y mujer...
era una delicia el ver
como pasaba sus días.


24
Entonces... cuando el lucero
brillaba en el cielo santo,
y los gallos con su canto
nos decían que el día llegaba,
a la cocina rumbiaba
el gaucho... que un encanto.

25
Y sentao junto al jogón
a esperar que venga el día,
al cimarrón le prendía
hasta ponerse rechoncho,
mientras su china dormía
tapadita con su poncho.

26
Y apenas la madrugada
empezaba coloriar,
los pájaros a cantar,
y las gallinas a apiarse,
era cosa de largarse
cada cual a trabajar.


27
Este se ata las espuelas,
se sale el otro cantando,
uno busca un pellón blando,
este un lazo, otro un rebenque,
y los pingos relinchando
los llaman dende el palenque.


28
El que era pion domador
enderezaba al corral,
ande estaba el animal
bufidos que se las pela...
y más malo que su agüela,
se hacia astillas el bagual.

29
Y allí el gaucho inteligente,
en cuanto el potro enriendó,
los cueros le acomodó
y se le sentó en seguida,
que el hombre muestra en la vida
la astucia que Dios le dio.

30
Y en las playas corcoviando
pedazos se hacía el sotreta
mientras él por las paletas
le jugaba las lloronas,
y al ruido de las caronas
salía haciendo gambetas.

31
¡Ah, tiempos!... ¡Si era un orgullo
ver jinetear un paisano!
Cuando era gaucho baquiano,
aunque el potro se boliase,
no había uno que no parese
con el cabresto en la mano.

32
Y mientras domaban unos,
otros al campo salían
y la hacienda recogían,
las manadas repuntaban,
y ansí sin sentir pasaban
entretenidos el día.

33
Y verlos al cair la tarde
en la cocina riunidos,
con el juego bien prendido
y mil cosas que contar,
platicar muy divertidos
hasta después de cenar.

34
Y con el buche bien lleno
era cosa superior
irse en brazos del amor
a dormir como la gente,
pa empezar el día siguiente
las fainas del día anterior.


35
Ricuerdo ¡qué maravilla!
Cómo andaba la gauchada
siempre alegre y bien montada
y dispuesta pa el trabajo...
pero hoy en día... ¡barajo!
No se la ve de aporriada.

36
El gaucho más infeliz
tenía tropilla de un pelo,
no le faltaba un consuelo
y andaba la gente lista...
teniendo al campo la vista,
sólo vía hacienda y cielo.

37
Cuando llegaban las yerras,
¡cosa que daba calor!
Tanto gaucho pialador
y tironiador sin yel.
¡Ah, tiempos... pero si en él
se ha visto tanto primor!

38
Aquello no era trabajo,
mas bien era una junción,
y después de un güen tirón
en que uno se daba mana,
pa darle un trago de cana
solía llamarlo el patrón.

39
Pues vivía la mamajuana
siempre bajo la carreta,
y aquel que no era chancleta,
en cuanto el goyete vía,
sin miedo se le prendía
como güérfano a la teta.

40
¡Y qué jugadas se armaban
cuando estábamos riunidos!
Siempre íbamos prevenidos,
pues en tales ocasiones
a ayudarle a los piones
caiban muchos comedidos.

41
Eran los días del apuro
y alboroto pa el hembraje,
pa preparar los potajes
y osequiar bien a la gente,
y así, pues, muy grandemente,
pasaba siempre el gauchaje.

42
Vení, a la carne con cuero,
la sabrosa carbonada,
mazamorra pien pisada,
los pasteles y el güen vino...
pero ha querido el destino
que todo aquello acabara.

43
Estaba el gaucho en su pago
con toda siguridá,
pero aura... ¡barbaridá!,
La cosa anda tan fruncida,
que gasta el pobre la vida
en juir de la autoridá.

44
Pues si usté pisa en su rancho
y si el alcalde lo sabe,
lo caza lo mesmo que ave
aunque su mujer aborte...
¡no hay tiempo que no se acabe
ni tiento que no se corte!.

45
Y al punto dese por muerto
si el alcalde lo bolea,
pues ahí nomás se le apea
con una felpa de palos;
Y después dicen que es malo
el gaucho si los pelea.

46
Y el lomo le hinchan a golpes,
y le rompen la cabeza,
y luego con ligereza,
ansí lastimao y todo,
lo amarran codo a codo
y pa el cepo lo enderiezan.

47
Áhi comienzan sus desgracias,
áhi principia el pericón,
porque ya no hay salvación,
y que usté quiera o no quiera,
lo mandan a la frontera
o lo echan a un batallón.

48
Ansí empezaron mis males
lo mesmo que los de tantos;
si gustan... en otros cantos
les diré lo que he sufrido,
después que uno está... perdido
no lo salvan ni los santos.

III - Sirviendo en la frontera.

49
tuve en mi pago en un tiempo
hijos, hacienda y mujer,
pero empecé a padecer,
me echaron a la frontera,
¡y qué iba a hallar al volver!
Tan sólo hallé la tapera.

50
Sosegao vivía en mi rancho
como el pájaro en su nido,
allí mis hijos queridos
iban creciendo a mi lao...
sólo queda al desgraciao
lamentar el bien perdido.

51
Mi gala en las pulperías
era, en habiendo más gente,
ponerme medio caliente,
pues cuando puntiao me encuentro
me salen coplas de adentro
como agua de la virtiente.

52
Cantando estaba una vez
en una gran diversión,
y aprovecho la ocasión
como quiso el juez de paz...
se presentó, y ahi nomás
hizo arriada en montón.

53
Juyeron los más matreros
y lograron escapar:
yo no quise disparar,
soy manso y no había porqué,
muy tranquilo me quedé
y ansí me dejé agarrar

54
allí un gringo con un órgano
y una mona que bailaba,
haciéndonos rair estaba,
cuanto le tocó el arreo,
¡tan grande el gringo y tan feo,
lo viera cómo lloraba!.

55
Hasta un inglés zanjiador
que decía en la última guerra
que él era de incalaperra
y que no quería servir,
también tuvo que juir
a guarecerse en la sierra.



56
Ni los mirones salvaron
de esa arriada de mi flor,
fue acoyarao el cantor
con el gringo de la mona,
a uno solo, por favor,
logró salvar la patrona.

57
Formaron un contingente
con los que del baile arriaron,
con otros nos mesturaron,
que habían agarrao también,
las cosas que aquí se ven
ni los diablos las pensaron.

58
A mí el juez me tomó entre ojos
en la ultima votación:
me le había hecho el remolón
y no me arrimé ese día,
y él dijo que yo servía
a los de la esposición.

59
Y ansí sufrí ese castigo
tal vez por culpas ajenas,
que sean malas o sean güenas
las listas, siempre me escondo:
yo soy un gaucho redondo
y esas cosas no me enllenan.

60
Al mandarnos nos hicieron
más promesas que a un altar,
el juez nos jue a proclamar
y nos dijo muchas veces:
muchachos, a los seis meses
los van a ir a relevar.

61
Yo llevé un moro de número
¡sobresaliente el matucho!
Con él gané en ayacucho
más plata que agua bendita:
siempre el gaucho necesita
un pingo pa fiarle un pucho.

62
Y cargué sin dar mas güeltas
con las prendas que tenía:
jergas, ponchos, todo cuanto había
en casa, tuito lo alcé:
a mi china la dejé
medio desnuda ese día.

63
No me falta una guasca,
esa ocasión eché el resto,
bozal, maniador, cabresto,
lazo, bolas y manea...
¡el que hoy tan pobre me vea
tal vez no creerá todo esto!.

64
Ansí en mi moro, escarciando,
enderecé a la frontera.
¡Aparcero si usté viera
lo que se llama cantón!...
Ni envidia tengo al ratón
en aquella ratonera.

65
De los pobres que allí había
a ninguno lo largaron,
los más viejos rezongaron,
pero a uno que se quejó
en seguida lo estaquiaron,
y la cosa se acabó.

66
En la lista de la tarde
el jefe nos cantó el punto
diciendo: quinientos juntos
llevará el que se resierte;
lo haremos pitar del juerte,
mas bien dese por dijunto.

67
A naides le dieron armas,
pues toditas las que había
el coronel las tenía,
sigún dijo esa ocasión,
pa repartirlas el día
en que hubiera una invasión.

68
Al principio nos dejaron
de haraganes criando sebo,
pero después... no me atrevo
a decir lo que pasaba...
¡barajo!... Si nos trataban
como se trata a malevos.


69
Porque todo era jugarle
por los lomos con la espada,
y aunque usté no hiciera nada,
lo mesmito que en palermo,
le daban cada cepiada
que lo dejaban enfermo.

70
¡Y qué indios, ni qué servicio;
si allí no había ni cuartel!
Nos mandaba el coronel
a trabajar en sus chacras,
y dejábamos las vacas
que las llevara el infiel.

71
Yo primero sembré trigo
y después hice un corral,
corté adobe pa un tapial,
hice un quincho, corté paja...
¡la pucha que se trabaja
sin que le larguen un rial!.

72
Y es lo pior de aquel enriedo
que si uno anda hinchando el lomo
se le apean como un plomo...
¡quién aguanta aquel infierno!
si eso es servir al gobierno,
a mí no me gusta el cómo.

73
Más de un año nos tuvieron
en esos trabajos duros;
y los indios, le asiguro
dentraban cuando querían:
como no los perseguían,
siempre andaban sin apuro.

74
A veces decía al volver
del campo la descubierta
que estuviéramos alerta,
que andaba adentro la indiada,
porque había una rastrillada
o estaba una yegua muerta.

75
Recién entonces salía
la orden de hacer la riunión,
y caíbamos al cantón
en pelos y hasta enancaos,
sin armas, cuatro pelaos
que íbamos a hacer jabón.

76
Ahi empezaba el afán
-se entiende, de puro vicio-
de enseñarle el ejercicio
a tanto gaucho recluta,
con un estrutor... ¡qué... Bruta!
que nunca sabía su oficio.


77
Daban entonces las armas
pa defender los cantones,
que eran lanzas y latones
con ataduras de tiento...
las de juego no las cuento
porque no había municiones.

78
Y un sargento chamuscao
me contó que las tenían
pero que ellos la vendían
para cazar avestruces;
y así andaban noche y día
dele bala a los ñanduces.

79
Y cuando se iban los indios
con lo que habían manotiao,
salíamos muy apuraos
a perseguirlos de atrás;
si no se llevaban más
es porque no habían hallao.


80
Allí sí, se ven desgracias
y lágrimas y afliciones;
naides le pida perdones
al indio: pues donde dentra,
roba y mata cuanto encuentra
y quema las poblaciones.

81
No salvan de su juror
ni los pobres angelitos;
viejos, mozos y chiquitos
los mata del mesmo modo:
que el indio lo arregla todo
con la lanza y con gritos.

82
Tiemblan las carnes al verlo
volando al viento la cerda,
la rienda en la mano izquierda
y la lanza en la derecha;
ande enderieza abre brecha
pues no hay lanzazo que pierda.


83
Hace trotiadas tremendas
desde el fondo del desierto;
ansí llega medio muerto
de hambre, de sé y de fatiga;
pero el indio es una hormiga
que día y noche está despierto.

84
Sabe manejar las bolas
como naides las maneja;
cuanto el contrario se aleja,
manda una bola perdida,
y si lo alcanza, sin vida
es siguro que lo deja.


85
Y el indio es como tortuga
de duro para espichar;
si lo llega a destripar
ni siquiera se le encoge;
luego sus tripas recoge,
y se agacha a disparar.

86
Hacían el robo a su gusto
y después se iban de arriba;
se llevaban las cautivas,
y nos contaban que a veces
les descarnaban los pieses,
a las pobrecitas, vivas.

87
¡Ah! ¡si partía el corazón
ver tantos males, canejo!
los perseguíamos de lejos
sin poder ni galopiar;
¡y qué habíamos de alcanzar
en unos vichocos viejos!

88
Nos volvíamos al cantón
a las dos o tres jornadas,
sembrando las caballadas;
y pa que alguno la venda,
rejuntábamos la hacienda
que habían dejao rezagada.

89
Una vez entre otras muchas,
tanto salir al botón,
nos pegaron un malón
los indios y una lanciada,
que la gente acobardada
quedó dende esa ocasión.

90
Habían estao escondidos
aguaitando atrás de un cerro...
¡lo viera a su amigo Fierro
aflojar como un blandito!
salieron como maíz frito
en cuanto sonó un cencerro.

91
Al punto nos dispusimos
aunque ellos eran bastantes;
la formamos al instante
nuestra gente, que era poca,
y golpiándose en la boca
hicieron fila adelante.

92
Se vinieron en tropel
haciendo temblar la tierra.
no soy manco pa la guerra
pero tuve mi jabón,
pues iba en un redomón
que había boleao en la sierra.

93
¡Qué vocerío! ¡qué barullo!
¡qué apurar esa carrera!
la indiada todita entera
dando alaridos cargó,
¡jue pucha!... Y ya nos sacó
como yeguada matrera.

94
¡Qué fletes traiban los bárbaros!
¡como una luz de ligeros!
hicieron el entrevero
y en aquella mezcolanza,
este quiero, éste no quiero,
nos escogían con la lanza.

95
Al que le daban un chuzazo,
dificultoso es que sane.
en fin, para no echar panes,
salimos por esas lomas,
lo mesmo que las palomas
al juir de los gavilanes.

96
¡Es de almirar la destreza
con que la lanza manejan!
de perseguir nunca dejan,
y nos traiban apretaos.
¡si queríamos, de apuraos,
salirnos por las orejas!

97
Y pa mejor de la fiesta
en esa aflición tan suma,
vino un indio echando espuma,
y con la lanza en la mano,
gritando: acabáu cristiano,
metau el lanza hasta el pluma.


98
Tendido en el costillar,
cimbrando por sobre el brazo
una lanza como un lazo,
me atropelló dando gritos:
si me descuido... El maldito
me levanta de un lanzazo.

99
Si me atribulo o me encojo,
siguro que no me escapo:
siempre he sido medio guapo,
pero en aquella ocasión
me hacía buya el corazón
como la garganta al sapo.

100
Dios le perdone al salvaje
las ganas que me tenía...
desaté las tres marías
y lo engatusé a cabriolas...
¡pucha...! Si no traigo bolas
me achura el indio ese día.

101
Era el hijo de un cacique,
sigún yo lo averigüé;
la verdá del caso jue
que me tuvo apuradazo,
hasta que por fin de un bolazo
del caballo lo bajé.

102
Ahi no más me tiré al suelo
y lo pisé en las paletas;
empezó a hacer morisquetas
y a mezquinar la garganta...
pero yo hice la obra santa
de hacerlo estirar la jeta.

103
Allí quedó de mojón
y en su caballo salté;
de la indiada disparé,
pues si me alcanza me mata,
y al fin me les escapé,
con el hilo de una pata.

IV - El pulpero. A buena cuenta.

104
seguiré esta relación,
aunque pa chorizo es largo:
el que pueda hágase cargo
cómo andaría de matrero,
después de salvar el cuero
de aquel trance tan amargo.

105
Del sueldo nada les cuento,
porque andaba disparando;
nosotros de cuando en cuando
solíamos ladrar de pobres:
nunca llegaban los cobres
que se estaban aguardando.

106
Y andábamos de mugrientos
que el mirarnos daba horror;
les juro que era un dolor
ver esos hombres, ¡por cristo!
En mi perra vida he visto
una miseria mayor.

107
Yo no tenía ni camisa
ni cosa que se parezca;
mis trapos sólo pa yesca
me podían servir al fin...
no hay plaga como un fortín
para que el hombre padezca.

108
Poncho, jergas, el apero,
las prenditas, los botones,
todo, amigo, en los cantones
jue quedando poco a poco;
ya me tenían medio loco
la pobreza y los ratones.

109
Sólo una manta peluda
era cuanto me quedaba
la había agenciao a la tabla
y ella me tapaba el bulto;
yaguané que allí ganaba
no salía- ni con indulto.

110
Y pa mejor hasta el moro
se me jue de entre las manos;
no soy lerdo pero, hermano,
vino el comendante un día
diciendo que lo quería
pa enseñarle a comer grano.

111
Afigúrese cualquiera
la suerte de este su amigo,
a pie y mostrando el umbligo,
estropiao, pobre y desnudo;
ni por castigo se pudo
hacerse más mal conmigo.

112
Ansí pasaron los meses,
y vino el año siguiente,
y las cosas igualmente
siguieron del mesmo modo:
adrede parece todo
pa atormentar a la gente.

113
No teníamos más permiso,
ni otro alivio la gauchada,
que salir de madrugada,
cuando no había indio ninguno,
campo ajuera a hacer boliadas
desocando los reyunos.

114
Y cáibamos al cantón
con los fletes aplastaos,
pero a veces medio aviaos
con plumas y algunos cueros,
que pronto con el pulpero
los teníamos negociaos.

115
Era un amigo del jefe
que con un boliche estaba;
yerba y tabaco nos daba
por la pluma de avestruz,
y hasta le hacía ver la luz
al que un cuero le llevaba.

116
Sólo tenía cuatro frascos
y unas barricas vacías,
y a la gente le vendía
todo cuanto precisaba...
algunos creiban que estaba
allí la proveduría.

117
¡Ah, pulpero habilidoso!
Nada le solía faltar.
¡Ahijuna!, Para tragar
tenía un buche de ñandú;
la gente le dio en llamar
el boliche de virtú.

118
Aunque es justo que quien vende
algún poquito muerda,
tiraba tanto la cuerda
que, con sus cuatro limetas
él cargaba las carretas
de plumas, cueros y cerda.

119
Nos tenía apuntaos a todos
con más cuentas que un rosario,
cuando se anunció un salario
que iban a dar, o un socorro;
pero sabe Dios qué zorro
se lo comió al comisario;

120
pues nunca lo vi llegar,
y al cabo de muchos días
en la mesma pulpería
dieron una güena cuenta,
que la gente muy contenta
de tan pobre recibía.

121
Sacaron unos sus prendas,
que las tenían empeñadas;
por sus deudas atrasadas
dieron otros el dinero;
al fin de fiesta el pulpero
se quedó con la mascada.

122
Yo me arrescosté a un horcón
dando tiempo a que pagaran,
y poniendo güena cara
estuve haciéndome el poyo,
a esperar que me llamaran
para recibir mi boyo.

123
Pero ahi me puede quedar
pegao pa siempre al horcón,
ya era casi la oración
y ninguno me llamaba;
la cosa se me ñublaba
y me dentró comezón.

124
Pa sacarme el entripao
vi al mayor, y lo fi a hablar;
yo me lo empecé a atracar,
y como con poca gana
le dije: tal vez mañana
acabarán de pagar.

125
¡Que mañana ni otro día!,
Al punto me contestó:
la paga ya se acabó;
¡siempre has de ser animal!
Me raí y le dije: yo...
no he recebido ni un rial.

126
Se le pusieron los ojos
que se le querían salir,
y ahi no más volvió a decir
comiéndome con la vista:
¿y qué querés recibir
si no has dentrao en la lista?

127
Esto sí que es amolar,
dije yo pa mis adentros;
van dos años que me encuentro
y hasta aura he visto ni un grullo;
dentro en todos los barullos
pero en las listas no dentro.

128
Vide el pleito mal parao
y no quise aguardar más...
es güeno vivir en paz
con quien nos ha de mandar;
y reculando pa atrás
me le empecé a retirar.

129
Supo todo el comendante
y me llamó al otro día,
diciéndome que quería
aviriguar bien las cosas...
que no era el tiempo de rosas,
que aura a naides se debía.

130
Llamó al cabo y al sargento
y empezó la indagación:
si había venido al cantón
en tal tiempo o en tal otro...
y si había venido en potro,
en reyuno o redomón.

131
Y todo era alborotar
al ñudo, y hacer papel;
conocí que era pastel
pa engordar con mi guayaca;
mas si voy al coronel
me hacen bramar en la estaca.

132
¡Ah, hijos de una...! ¡La codicia
ojalá les ruempa el saco!
Ni un pedazo de tabaco
le dan al pobre soldao,
y lo tienen, de delgao,
más ligero que un guanaco.

133
Pero qué iba a hacerles yo,
charabón en el desierto;
más bien me daba por muerto
pa no verme más fundido:
y me les hacía el dormido
aunque soy medio despierto.


V - Gringos en la frontera. La estaquiada.


134
Yo andaba desesperao,
aguardando una ocasión
que los indios un malón
nos dieran, y entre el estrago
hacérmeles cimarrón
y volverme pa mi pago.

135
Aquello no era servicio
ni defender la frontera;
aquello era ratonera
en que sólo gana el juerte:
era jugar a la suerte
con una taba culera.

136
Allí tuito va al revés;
los milicos son los piones,
y andan en las poblaciones
emprestaos pa trabajar;
los rejuntan pa peliar
cuando entran indios ladrones.

137
Yo he visto en esa milonga
muchos jefes con estancia,
y piones en abundancia,
y majadas y rodeos;
he visto negocios feos
a pesar de mi inorancia.

138
Y colijo que no quieren
la barunda componer;
para eso no ha de tener,
el jefe que esté de estable,
más que su poncho y su sable,
su caballo y su deber.

139
Ansina, pues, conociendo
que aquel mal no tiene cura,
que tal vez mi sepoltura
si me quedo iba a encontrar,
pensé mandarme mudar
como cosa más sigura.

140
Y pa mejor, una noche
¡qué estaquiada me pegaron!
Casi me descoyuntaron
por motivo de una gresca:
¡ahijuna, si me estiraron
lo mesmo que guasca fresca!

141
Jamás me puedo olvidar
lo que esa vez me pasó;
dentrando una noche yo
al fortín, un enganchao,
que estaba medio mamao,
allí me desconoció.

142
Era un gringo tan bozal,
que nada se le entendía,
¡quién sabe de ande sería!
Tal vez no juera cristiano,
pues lo único que decía
es que era papolitano.

143
Estaba de centinela
y por causa del peludo
verme más claro no pudo,
y esa jue la culpa toda:
el bruto se asustó al ñudo
y fi el pavo de la boda.

144
Cuando me vido acercar:
quién vivore-? Preguntó;
¿qué víboras?, Dije yo.
¡Ha garto!, Me pegó el grito,
y yo dije despacito:
¡más lagarto serás vos!




145
Ahi no más, ¡cristo me valga!,
Rastrillar el jusil siento:
me agaché, y en el momento
el bruto me largó un chumbo;
mamao, me tiró sin rumbo,
que si no, no cuento el cuento.

146
Por de contao, con el tiro
se alborotó el avispero;
los oficiales salieron
y se empezó la junción;
quedó en su puesto el nación,
y yo fi al estaquiadero.

147
Entre cuatro bayonetas
me tendieron en el suelo;
vino el mayor medio en pedo
y allí se puso a gritar:
¡pícaro, te he de enseñar
andar reclamando sueldos!

148
De las manos y las patas
me ataron cuatro cinchones;
les aguanté los tirones
sin que ni un ¡ay! Se me oyera,
y al gringo la noche entera
lo harté con mis maldiciones.

149
Yo no sé porqué el gobierno
nos manda aquí a la frontera
gringada que ni siquiera
se sabe atracar a un pingo.
¡Si creerá al mandar un gringo
que nos manda alguna fiera!

150
No hacen más que dar trabajo,
pues no saben ni ensillar;
no sirven ni pa carniar:
y yo he visto muchas veces
que ni voltiadas las reses
se les querían arrimar


151
Y lo pasan sus mercedes
lengüetiando pico a pico
hasta que viene un milico
a servirles al asao-
y eso sí, en lo delicaos,
parecen hijos de rico.


152
Si hay calor, ya no son gente;
si yela, todos tiritan;
si usté no les da, no pitan
por no gastar en tabaco,
y cuando pescan un naco
uno al otro se lo quitan.

153
Cuando llueve se acoquinan
como perro que oye truenos.
¡Que diablos!, Sólo son güenos
pa vivir entre maricas,
y nunca se andan con chicas
para alzar ponchos ajenos.

154
Pa vichar son como ciegos;
no hay ejemplo de que entiendan,
ni hay uno solo que aprienda,
al ver un bulto que cruza,
a saber si es avestruza,
o si es jinete, o hacienda.

155
Si salen a perseguir
después de mucho aparato,
tuitos se pelan al rato
y va quedando el tendal:
esto es como en un nidal
echarle güevos a un gato.


VI - Desertor. Las ruinas del rancho.


156
vamos dentrando recién
a la parte mas sentida,
aunque es todita mi vida
de males una cadena:
a cada alma dolorida
le gusta cantar sus penas.

157
Se empezó en aquel entonces
a rejuntar caballada,
y riunir la milicada
teniéndola en el cantón,
para una despedición
a sorprender a la indiada.

158
Nos anunciaban que iríamos
sin carretas ni bagajes
a golpiar a los salvajes
en sus mesmas tolderías;
que a la güelta pagarían
licenciándolo al gauchaje;

159
que en esta despedición
tuviéramos la esperanza;
que iba a venir sin tardanza,
según el jefe contó,
un menistro o qué sé yo-
que le llamaban don ganza;

160
que iba a riunir el ejército
y tuitos los batallones,
y que traiba unos cañones
con más rayas que un cotín;
¡pucha!- Las conversaciones
por allá no tenían fin.

161
Pero esas trampas no enriedan
a los zorros de mi laya;
que esa ganza venga o vaya,
poco le importa a un matrero.
Yo también dejé las rayas-
en los libros del pulpero.

162
Nunca juí gaucho dormido;
siempre pronto, siempre listo,
yo soy un hombre, ¡qué cristo!,
Que nada me ha acobardao,
y siempre salí parao
en los trances que me he visto.

163
Dende chiquito gané
la vida con mi trabajo,
y aunque siempre estuve abajo
y no sé lo que es subir
también el mucho sufrir
suele cansarnos, ¡barajo!

164
En medio de mi inorancia
conozco que nada valgo:
soy la liebre o soy el galgo
asigún los tiempos andan;
pero también los que mandan
debieran cuidarnos algo.

165
Una noche que riunidos
estaban en la carpeta
empinando una limeta
el jefe y el juez de paz,
yo no quise aguardar más,
y me hice humo en un sotreta.

166
Me parece el campo orégano
dende que libre me veo;
donde me lleva el deseo
allí mis pasos dirijo,
y hasta en las sombras de fijo
que donde quiera rumbeo.

167
Entro y salgo del peligro
sin que me espante el estrago,
no aflojo al primer amago
ni jamás fi gaucho lerdo:
soy pa rumbiar como el cerdo,
y pronto caí a mi pago.

168
Volvía al cabo de tres años
de tanto sufrir al ñudo
resertor, pobre y desnudo,
a procurar suerte nueva;
y lo mesmo que el peludo
enderecé pa mi cueva.

169
No hallé ni rastro del rancho:
¡sólo estaba la tapera!
¡Por cristo si aquello era
pa enlutar el corazón!
¡Yo juré en esa ocasión
ser mas malo que una fiera!

170
¡Quién no sentirá lo mesmo
cuando ansí padece tanto!
Puedo asigurar que el llanto
como una mujer largué:
¡ay, mi Dios: si me quedé
más triste que jueves santo!

171
Sólo se oíban los aullidos
de un gato que se salvó;
el pobre se guareció
cerca, en una vizcachera:
venía como si supiera
que estaba de güelta yo.


172
Al dirme dejé la hacienda
que era todito mi haber;
pronto debíamos volver,
sigún el juez prometía,
y hasta entonces cuidaría
de los bienes, la mujer.

173
Después me contó un vecino
que el campo se lo pidieron;
la hacienda se la vendieron
pa pagar arrendamientos,
y qué sé yo cuantos cuentos;
pero todo lo fundieron,

174
los pobrecitos muchachos,
entre tantas afliciones,
se conchabaron de piones;
¡mas qué iban a trabajar,
si eran como los pichones
sin acabar de emplumar!

175
Por ahi andarán sufriendo
de nuestra suerte el rigor:
me han contao que el mayor
nunca dejaba a su hermano;
puede ser que algún cristiano
los recoja por favor.

176
¡Y la pobre mi mujer,
Dios sabe cuánto sufrió!
Me dicen que se voló
con no sé qué gavilán:
sin duda a buscar el pan
que no podía darle yo.

177
No es raro que a uno le falte
lo que a algún otro le sobre
si no le quedó ni un cobre
sino de hijos un enjambre.
Que más iba a hacer la pobre
para no morirse de hambre?

178
¡Tal vez no te vuelva a ver,
prienda de mi corazón!
Dios te dé su proteción
ya que no me la dio a mí,
y a mis hijos dende aquí
les echo mi bendición.

179
Como hijitos de la cuna
andarán por ahi sin madre;
ya se quedaron sin padre,
y ansí la suerte los deja
sin naides que los proteja
y sin perro que les ladre.

180
Los pobrecitos tal vez
no tengan ande abrigarse,
ni ramada ande ganarse,
ni rincón ande meterse,
ni camisa que ponerse,
ni poncho con que taparse.

181
Tal vez los verán sufrir
sin tenerles compasión;
puede que alguna ocasión,
aunque los vean tiritando,
los echen de algún jogón
pa que no estén estorbando.

182
Y al verse ansina espantaos
como se espanta a los perros,
irán los hijos de Fierro,
con la cola entre las piernas,
a buscar almas más tiernas
o esconderse en algún cerro.

183
Mas también en este juego
voy a pedir mi bolada;
a naides le debo nada,
ni pido cuartel ni doy:
y ninguno dende hoy
ha de llevarme en la armada.

184
Yo he sido manso primero,
y seré gaucho matrero;
en mi triste circunstancia,
aunque es mi mal tan projundo,
nací y me he criado en estancia.
Pero ya conozco el mundo.

185
Ya les conozco sus mañas,
le conozco sus cucañas;
sé como hacen la partida,
la enriedan y la manejan;
deshaceré la madeja
aunque me cueste la vida.

186
Y aguante el que no se anime
a meterse en tanto engorro
o si no aprétese el gorro/
y para otra tierra emigre;
pero yo ando como el tigre
que le roban los cachorros.


187
Aunque muchos creen que el gaucho
tiene alma de reyuno,
no se encontrará a ninguno
que no le dueblen las penas;
mas no debe aflojar uno
mientras hay sangre en las venas


VII - Pelea con el moreno.

188
De carta de más me vía
sin saber a donde dirme;
mas dijeron que era vago
y entraron a perseguirme.



189
Nunca se achican los males,
van poco a poco creciendo,
y ansina me vide pronto
obligado a andar juyendo.

190
No tenía mujer ni rancho
y a más, era resertor;
no tenía una prenda güena
ni un peso en el tirador

191
a mis hijos infelices
pensé volverlos a hallar,
y andaba de un lao al otro
sin tener ni qué pitar.

192
Supe una vez por desgracia
que había un baile por allí,
y medio desesperao
a ver la milonga fui.

193
Riunidos al pericón
tantos amigos hallé,
que alegre de verme entre ellos
esa noche me apedé.

194
Como nunca, en la ocasión
por peliar me dio la tranca. (borrachera)
Y la emprendí con un negro
que trujo una negra en ancas.

195
Al ver llegar la morena,
que no hacía caso de naides (nadie),
le dije con la mamúa:
va-ca-yendo gente al baile.

196
La negra entendió la cosa
y no tardó en contestarme,
mirándome como a un perro:
más vaca será su madre.

197
Y dentró al baile muy tiesa (orgulloso)
con más cola que una zorra,
haciendo blanquiar los dientes
lo mesmo que mazamorra.


198
!Negra linda!- Dije yo.
Me gusta- pa la carona;
y me puse a champurriar
esta coplita fregona:

199
a los blancos hizo Dios,
a los mulatos san pedro,
a los negros hizo el diablo
para tizón del infierno.

200
Había estao juntando rabia
el moreno dende ajuera;
en lo escuro le brillaban
los ojos como linterna.

201
Lo conocí retobao,
me acerqué y le dije presto:
po-r-rudo que un hombre sea
nunca se enoja por esto.

202
Corcovió el de los tamangos
y creyéndose muy fijo:
¡más porrudo serás vos,
gaucho rotoso!, Me dijo.

203
Y ya se me vino al humo
como a buscarme la hebra,
y un golpe le acomodé
con el porrón de ginebra.

204
Ahi nomás pegó el de hollín
mas gruñidos que un chanchito,
y pelando el envenao
me atropelló dando gritos.

205
Pegué un brinco y abrí cancha
diciéndoles: caballeros,
dejen venir ese toro.
Solo nací- solo muero.

206
El negro, después del golpe,
se había el poncho refalao
y dijo: vas a saber
si es solo o acompañado.

207
Y mientras se arremangó,
yo me saqué las espuelas,
pues malicié que aquel tío
no era de arriar con las riendas.

208
No hay cosa como el peligro
pa refrescar un mamao;
hasta la vista se aclara
por mucho que haiga chupao.

209
El negro me atropelló
como a quererme comer;
me hizo dos tiros seguidos
y los dos le abarajé.

210
Yo tenía un facón con s,
que era de lima de acero;
le hice un tiro, lo quitó
y vino ciego el moreno;


211
y en el medio de las aspas
un planazo le asenté,
que lo largué culebriando
lo mesmo que buscapié.

212
Le coloriaron las motas
con la sangre de la herida,
y volvió a venir jurioso
como una tigra parida.

213
Y ya me hizo relumbrar
por los ojos el cuchillo,
alcanzando con la punta
a cortarme en un carrillo.

214
Me hirvió la sangre en las venas
y me le afirmé al moreno,
dándole de punta y hacha
pa dejar un diablo menos.

215
Por fin en una topada
en el cuchillo lo alcé,
y como un saco de güesos (hueso)
contra un cerco lo largué.

216
Tiró unas cuantas patadas
y ya cantó pal carnero:
nunca me puedo olvidar
de la agonía de aquel negro.



217
En esto la negra vino
con los ojos como ají
y empezó la pobre allí
a bramar como una loba.
Yo quise darle una soba
a ver si la hacía callar,
mas pude reflesionar
que era malo en aquel punto,
y por respeto al dijunto
no la quise castigar.

218
Limpié el facón en los pastos,
desaté mi redomón,
monté despacio y salí
al tranco pa el cañadón.

219
Después supe que al finao
ni siquiera lo velaron,
y retobao en un cuero,
sin rezarle lo enterraron.

220
Y dicen que dende entonces,
cuando es la noche serena
suele verse una luz mala
como de alma que anda en pena.

221
Yo tengo intención a veces,
para que no pene tanto,
de sacar de allí los güesos (huesos)
y echarlos al camposanto.


VIII - El ser gaucho es un delito.

222
otra vez en un boliche
estaba haciendo la tarde;
cayó un gaucho que hacia alarde
de guapo y peliador;
a la llegada metió
el pingo hasta la ramada,
y yo sin decirle nada
me quedé en el mostrador.

223
Era un terne de aquel pago
que naides lo reprendía,
que sus enriedos tenía
con el señor comendante;
y como era protegido,
andaba muy entonao,
y a cualquier desgraciao
lo llevaba por delante.

224
¡Ah pobre! Si él mismo creiba
que la vida le sobraba;
ninguno diría que andaba
aguaitándolo la muerte.
Pero ansí pasa en el mundo,
es ansí la triste vida:
pa todos está escondida
la güena o la mala suerte.

225
Se tiró al suelo; al dentrar
le dio un empellón a un vasco,
y me alargó un medio frasco
diciendo: beba cuñao.
Por su hermana, contesté.
Que por la mía no hay cuidao.

226
¡Ah, gaucho!, Me respondió;
¿de que pago será crioyo?
¿Lo andará buscando el hoyo?
Deberá tener güen cuero;
pero ande bala este toro
no bala ningún ternero.

227
Y ya salimos trenzaos
porque el hombre no era lerdo,
mas como el tino no pierdo,
y soy medio ligerón,
le dejé mostrando el sebo
de un revés con el facón.

228
Y como con la justicia
no andaba bien por allí,
cuanto pataliar lo vi,
y el pulpero pegó el grito,
ya pa el palenque salí
como haciéndome chiquito.

229
Monté y me encomendé a Dios,
rumbiando para otro pago,
que el gaucho que llaman vago
no puede tener querencia,
y ansí de estrago en estrago
vive llorando la ausencia.

230
éL andaba siempre juyendo,
siempre pobre y perseguido,
no tiene cueva ni nido
como si juera maldito;
porque el ser gaucho- ¡barajo!,
El ser gaucho es un delito.


231
Es como el patrio de posta;
lo larga éste, aquél lo toma,
nunca se acaba la broma;
dende chico se parece
al arbolito que crece
desamparao en la loma.

232
Le echan la agua del bautismo
aquél que nació en la selva;
busca madre que te envuelva,
le dice el fraire y lo larga.
Y dentra a cruzar el mundo
como burro con la carga.

233
Y se cría viviendo al viento
como oveja sin trasquila;
mientras su padre en las filas
anda sirviendo al gobierno,
aunque tirite en invierno,
naides lo ampara ni asila.

234
Le llaman gaucho mamao
si lo pillan divertido,
y que es mal entretenido
si en un baile lo sorprienden;
hace mal si se defiende
y si no, se ve- fundido.

235
No tiene hijos ni mujer,
ni amigos ni protetores,
pues todos son sus señores
sin que ninguno lo ampare:
tiene la suerte del güey, (buey)
y ¿donde irá el güey que no are?

236
Su casa es el pajonal,
su guarida es el desierto;
y si de hambre medio muerto
le echa el lazo a algún mamón,
lo persiguen como a plaito,
porque es un gaucho ladrón.

237
Y si de un golpe por ahi
lo dan güelta panza arriba,
no hay un alma compasiva
que le rece una oración;
tal vez como cimarrón
en una cueva lo tiran.

238
Él nada gana en la paz
y es el primero en la guerra;
no le perdonan si yerra,
que no saben perdonar,
porque el gaucho en esta tierra
sólo sirve pa votar.

239
Para el son los calabozos,
para el las duras prisiones,
en su boca no hay razones
aunque la razón le sobre;
que son campanas de palo
las razones de los pobres.

240
Si uno aguanta, es gaucho bruto;
si no aguanta es gaucho malo.
¡Dele azote, dele palo,
porque es lo que él necesita!
De todo el que nació gaucho
ésta es la suerte maldita.

241
Vamos suerte, vamos juntos
dende que juntos nacimos;
y ya que juntos vivimos
sin podernos dividir-
yo abriré con mi cuchillo
el camino pa seguir


IX - Matreriando. La lucha con la partida.


242
matreriando lo pasaba
ya a las casas no venía;
solía arrimarme de día,
mas, lo mesmos que el carancho,
siempre estaba sobre el rancho
espiando a la polecía.


243
Viva el gaucho que ande mal,
como zorro perseguido,
hasta que al menor descuido
se lo atarasquen los perros,
pues nunca le falta un yerro
al hombre más alvertido.

244
Y en esa hora de la tarde
en que tuito se adormece,
que el mundo dentrar parece
a vivir en pura calma,
con las tristezas del alma
al pajonal enderiece.

245
Bala el tierno corderito
al lao de la blanca oveja,
y a la vaca que se aleja
llama el ternero amarrao;
pero el gaucho desgraciao
no tiene a quien dar su oveja.

246
Ansí es que al venir la noche
iba a buscar mi guarida,
pues ande el tigre se anida
también el hombre lo pasa,
y no quería que en las casas
me rodiara la partida.

247
Pues aun cuando vengan ellos
cumpliendo con su deberes,
yo tengo otros pareceres,
y en esa conduta vivo:
que no debe un gaucho altivo
peliar entre las mujeres.

248
Y al campo me iba solito,
más matrero que el venao,
como perro abandonao
a buscar una tapera,
o en alguna vizcachera
pasar la noche tirao.

249
Sin punto ni rumbo fijo
en aquella inmensidá,
entre tanta escuridá
anda el gaucho como duende;
allí jamás lo sorpriende
dormido, la autoridá.

250
Su esperanza es el coraje,
su guardia es la precaución,
su pingo es la salvación,
y pasa uno en su desvelo,
sin más amparo que el cielo
ni otro amigo que el facón.

251
Ansí me hallaba una noche
contemplando las estrellas,
que le parecen más bellas
cuanto uno es más desgraciao,
y que Dios las haiga criao
para consolarse en ellas.

252
Les tiene el hombre cariño
y siempre con alegría
ve salir las tres marías;
que si llueve, cuanto escampa,
las estrellas son la guía
que el gaucho tiene en la pampa.

253
Aquí no valen dotores,
sólo vale la esperiencia;
aquí verían su inocencia
ésos que todo lo saben,
porque esto tiene otra llave
y el gaucho tiene su cencia.

254
Es triste en medio del campo
pasarse noches enteras
contemplando en sus carreras
las estrellas que Dios cría,
sin tener más compañía
que su delito y las fieras.

255
Me encontraba como digo,
en aquella soledá,
entre tanta escuridá,
echando al viento mis quejas,
cuando el grito del chajá
me hizo parar las orejas.

256
Como lumbriz me pegué
al suelo para escuchar;
pronto sentí retumbar
las pisadas de los fletes,
y que eran muchos jinetes
conocí sin vacilar.

257
Cuando el hombre está en peligro
no debe tener confianza;
ansí tendido de panza
puse toda mi atención
y ya escuché sin tardanza
como el ruido de un latón.

258
Se venían tan calladitos
que yo me puse en cuidao;
tal vez me hubieran bombiao
y ya me venían a buscar;
mas no quise disparar,
que eso es de gaucho morao.

259
Al punto me santigüé
y eché de giñebra un taco;
lo mesmito que el mataco
me arroyé con el porrón;
si han de darme pa tabaco,
dije, ésta es güena ocasión.

260
Me refalé las espuelas,
para no peliar con grillos;
me arremangué el calzoncillo,
y me ajusté bien la faja,
y en una mata de paja
probé el filo del cuchillo.

261
Para tenerlo a la mano
el flete en el pasto até,
la cincha le acomodé,
y, en un trance como aquél,
haciendo espaldas en él
quietito los aguardé.

262
Cuando cerca los sentí,
y que ahi no más se pararon,
los pelos se me erizaron
y, aunque nada vían mis ojos,
no se han de morir de antojo,
les dije, cuando llegaron.

263
Yo quise hacerles saber
que allí se hallaba un varón;
les conocí la intención
y solamente por eso
es que les gané el tirón,
sin aguardar voz de preso.

264
Vos sos un gaucho matrero,
dijo uno, haciéndose el güeno.
Vos mataste un moreno
y otro en una pulpería,
y aquí está la polecía
que viene a ajustar tus cuentas;
te va alzar por las cuarenta
si te resistís hoy día.

265
No me vengan, contesté,
con relación de dijuntos;
ésos son otros asuntos;
vean si me pueden llevar,
que yo no me he de entregar,
aunque vengan todos juntos.

266
Pero no aguardaron más
y se apiaron en montón;
como a perro cimarrón
me rodiaron entre tantos;
ya me encomendé a los santos,
y eché mano a mi facón.

267
Y ya vide el fogonazo
de un tiro de garabina,
mas quiso la suerte indina
de aquel maula, que me errase,
y ahi no más lo levantase
lo mesmo que una sardina.

268
A otro que estaba apurao
acomodando una bola,
le hice una dentrada sola
y le hice sentir el Fierro,
y ya salió como el perro
cuando le pisan la cola.

269
Era tanta la aflición
y la angurria que venían,
que tuitos se me venían,
donde yo los esperaba;
uno al otro se estorbaba
y con las ganas no vían.

270
Dos de ellos que traiban sables
más garifos y resueltos,
en las hilachas envueltos
enfrente se me pararon,
y a un tiempo me atropellaron
lo mesmo que perros sueltos.

271
Me fui reculando en falso
y el poncho adelante eché,
y en cuanto le puso el pie
uno medio chapetón,
de pronto le di un tirón
y de espaldas lo largué

272
al verse sin compañero
el otro se sofrenó;
entonces le dentré yo,
sin dejarlo resollar,
pero ya empezó a aflojar
y a la pu-n-ta disparó.

273
Uno que en una tacuara
había atao una tijera,
se vino como si juera
palenque de atar terneros,
pero en dos tiros certeros
salió aullando campo ajuera.

274
Por suerte en aquel momento
venía coloriando el alba
y yo dije: si me salva
la virgen en este apuro,
en adelante le juro
ser más güeno que una malva.

275
Pegué un brinco y entre todos
sin miedo me entreveré;
hecho ovillo me quedé
y ya me cargó una yunta,
y por el suelo la punta
de mi facón les jugué.

276
El más engolosinao
se me apió con un hachazo;
se lo quité con el brazo;
de no, me mata los piojos;
y antes de que diera un paso
le eché tierra en los dos ojos.

277
Y mientras se sacudía
refregándose la vista,
yo me le fui como lista
y ahi no más me le afirmé,
diciéndole: Dios te asista,
y de un revés lo voltié.

278
Pero en ese punto mesmo
sentí que por las costillas
un sable me hacía cosquillas
y la sangre me heló;
dende ese momento yo
me salí de mis casillas.

279
Di para atrás unos pasos
hasta que pude hacer pie;
por delante me lo eché
de punta y tajos a un criollo;
metió la pata en un hoyo,
y yo al hoyo lo mandé.

280
Tal vez en el corazón
le tocó un santo bendito
a un gaucho, que pegó el grito
y dijo: ¡Cruz no consiente
que se cometa el delito
de matar a un valiente!

281
Y ahi no más se me aparió,
dentrándole a la partida;
yo les hice otra embestida
pues entre dos era robo;
y el Cruz era como lobo
que defiende su guarida.

282
Uno despachó al infierno
de dos que lo atropellaron;
los demás remoliniaron,
pues íbamos a la fija,
y a poco andar dispararon
lo mesmo que sabandija.

283
Ahí quedaron largo a largo
los que estiaron la jeta;
otro iba como maleta,
y Cruz de atrás les decía:
que venga otra polecía
a llevarlos en carreta.

284
Yo junté las osamentas,
me hinqué y les recé un bendito,
hice una cruz de un palito
y pedí a mi Dios clemente
me perdonara el delito
de haber muerto tanta gente.

285
Dejamos amotonaos
a los pobres que murieron;
no sé si los recogieron,
porque nos fuimos a un rancho,
o si tal vez los caranchos
ahi no más se los comieron.

286
Lo agarramos mano a mano
entre los dos al porrón:
en semejante ocasión
un trago a cualquiera encanta;
y Cruz no era remolón
ni pijotiaba garganta.

287
Calentamos los gargueros
y nos largamos muy tiesos,
siguiendo siempre los besos
al pichel, y por mas señas,
íbamos como cigüeñas
estirando los pescuezos.

288
Yo me voy, le dije, amigo,
donde la suerte me lleve,
y si es que alguno se atreve,
a ponerse en mi camino,
yo seguiré mi destino,
que el hombre hace lo que debe.


289
Soy un gaucho desgraciao,
no tengo donde ampararme,
ni un palo donde rascarme,
ni un árbol que me cubije:
pero ni aun esto me aflige
porque yo sé manejarme.

290
Antes de cair al servicio,
tenia familia y hacienda;
cuando volví, ni la prenda
me la habían dejao ya.
Dios sabe en lo que vendrá
a parar esta contienda.


X - Por culpa de una mujer.


291
amigazo, pa sufrir
han nacido los varones;
estas son las ocasiones
de mostrarse un hombre juerte,
hasta que venga la muerte
y lo agarre a coscorrones.

292
El andar tan despilchao
ningún mérito me quita;
sin ser un alma bendita
me duelo del mal ajeno:
soy un pastel con relleno
que parece torta frita.


293
Tampoco me faltan males
y desgracias, le prevengo;
también mis desdichas tengo,
aunque esto poco me aflige:
yo sé hacerme el chango rengo
cuando la cosa lo esige.

294
Y con algunos ardiles
voy viviendo, aunque rotoso;
a veces me hago el sarnoso
y no tengo ni un granito,
pero al chifle voy ganoso
como panzón al maíz frito.

295
A mí no me matan penas
mientras tenga el cuero sano;
venga el sol en el verano
y la escarcha en el invierno
¿por qué afligirse el cristiano?

296
Hagámosle cara fiera
a los males, compañero,
porque el zorro más matrero
suele cair como un chorlito;
viene por un corderito
y en la estaca deja el cuero.

297
Hoy tenemos que sufrir
males que no tienen nombre,
pero esto a nadies lo asombre
porque ansina es el pastel,
y tiene que dar el hombre
mas güeltas que un carretel.


298
Yo nunca me he de entregar
a los brazos de la muerte;
arrastro mi triste suerte
paso a paso y como pueda,
que donde el débil se queda
se suele escapar el juerte.

299
Y ricuerde cada cual
lo que cada cual sufrió,
que lo que es, amigo, yo,
hago ansí la cuenta mía:
ya lo pasado pasó;
mañana será otro día.

300
Yo también tuve una pilcha
que me enllenó el corazón,
y si en aquella ocasión
alguien me hubiera buscao,
siguro que me había hallao
más prendido que un botón.


301
En la güeya (huella) del querer
no hay animal que se pierda-
las mujeres no son lerdas,
y todo gaucho es dotor
si pa cantarle al amor
tiene que templar las cuerdas.

302
¡Quién es de una alma tan dura
que no quiera una mujer!
Lo alivia en su padecer:
si no sale calavera
es la mejor compañera
que el hombre puede tener.

303
Si es güena, no lo abandona
cuando lo ve desgraciao,
lo asiste con su cuidao,
y con afán cariñoso,
y usté tal vez ni un rebozo
ni una pollera le ha dao.

304
¡Grandemente lo pasaba
con aquella prenda mía,
viviendo con alegría
como la mosca en la miel!
¡Amigo, qué tiempo aquel!
¡La pucha, que la quería!

305
Era la águila que a un árbol
dende las nubes bajó;
era más linda que el alba
cuando va rayando el sol;
era la flor deliciosa
que entre el trebolar creció.

306
Pero, amigo, el comendante
que mandaba la milicia,
como que no desperdicia
se fue refalando a casa;
yo le conocí en la traza
que el hombre traiba malicia.

307
Él me daba voz de amigo,
pero no le tenía fe;
era el jefe, y ya se ve,
no podía competir yo;
en mi rancho se pegó
lo mesmo que un saguaipé.

308
A poco andar, conocí
que ya me había desbancao,
y él siempre muy entonao,
aunque sin darme ni un cobre,
me tenía de lao a lao
como encomienda de pobre.

309
A cada rato, de chasque
me hacía dir a gran distancia;
ya me mandaba a una estancia,
ya al pueblo, ya a la frontera;
pero él en la comendancia
no ponía los pies siquiera.

310
Es triste a no poder más
el hombre en su padecer,
si no tiene una mujer
que lo ampare y lo consuele:
mas pa que otro se la pele
lo mejor es no tener.

311
No me gusta que otro gallo
le cacaree a mi gallina;
yo andaba ya con la espina,
hasta que en una ocasión
lo pille junto al jogón
abrazándome a la china.

312
Tenía el viejito una cara
de ternero mal lamido,
y al verle tan atrevido
le dije: ¡que le aproveche!-
Que había sido pa el amor
como gaucho pa la leche.

313
Peló la espalda y se vino
como a quererme ensartar,
pero yo sin tutubiar
le volví al punto a decir:
¡cuidado!, No te vas a per-tigo;
poné cuarta pa salir.


314
Un puntazo me largó,
pero el cuerpo le saqué,
y en cuanto se lo quité,
para no matar un viejo,
con cuidado, medio de lejos
un palazo le asenté.

315
Y como nunca al que manda
le falta algún adulón,
uno que en esa ocasión
se encontraba allí presente,
vino apretando los dientes
como perrito mamón.

316
Me hizo un tiro de revuélver
que el hombre creyó siguro;
era confiado y le juro
que cerquita se arrimaba,
pero, siempre en un apuro
se desentumen mis tabas.

317
Él me siguió menudiando
mas sin poderme acertar,
y yo, dele culebriar,
hasta que al fin le dentré
y ahi no más lo despaché
sin dejarlo resollar.

318
Dentré a campiar en seguida
al viejito enamorao-
el pobre se había ganao
en un noque de lejía.
¡Quién sabe cómo estaría
del susto que había llevao!

319
¡Es zonzo el cristiano macho
cuando el amor lo domina!
Él la miraba a la indina,
y una cosa tan jedionda (hediondo/a)
sentí yo, que ni en la fonda
he visto tal jedentina (olor)


320
Y le dije: pa su agüela
han de ser esas perdices.
Yo me tapé las narices,
y me salí esternudando,
y el viejo quedó olfatiando
como chico con lumbrices.

321
Cuando la mula recula,
señal que quiere cociar,
ansí se suele portar
aunque ella lo disimula;
recula como la mula
la mujer, para olvidar.

322
Alcé mis ponchos y mis prendas
y me largué a padecer
por culpa de una mujer
que quiso engañar a dos;
al rancho le dije adiós,
para nunca más volver.

323
Las mujeres, dende entonces,
conocí a todas en una;
ya no he de probar fortuna
con carta tan conocida:
mujer y perra parida,
¡no se me acerca ninguna!.


XI - A bailar un pericón.


324
a otros les brotan las coplas
como agua de manantial;
pues a mí me pasa igual;
aunque las mías nada valen,
de la boca se me salen
como ovejas de corral.

325
Que en puertiando la primera,
ya la siguen los demás,
y en montones las de atrás
contra los palos se estrellan,
y saltan y se atropellan
sin que se corten jamás.

326
Y aunque yo por mi inorancia
con gran trabajo me esplico,
cuando llego a abrir el pico,
tengaló por cosa cierta,
sale un verso y en la puerta
ya asoma el otro el hocico.

327
Y emprésteme su atención;
me oirá relatar las penas
de que traigo la alma llena;
porque en toda circustancia,
paga el gaucho su inorancia
con la sangre de sus venas.

328
Después de aquella desgracia
me refugié en los pajales;
anduve entre los cardales
como bicho sin guarida;
pero, amigo, es esa vida
como vida de animales.

329
Y son tantas las miserias
en que me he salido ver,
que con tanto padecer
y sufrir tanta aflición,
malicio que he de tener
un callo en el corazón.

330
Ansí andaba como guacho
cuando pasa el temporal;
supe una vez por mi mal
de una milonga que había,
y ya pa la pulpería
enderecé mi bagual.

331
Era la casa del baile
un rancho de mala muerte,
y se enllenó de tal suerte
que andábamos a empujones:
nunca faltan encontrones
cuando un pobre se divierte.

332
Yo tenía unas medias botas
con tamaños verdugones;
me pusieron los talones
con crestas como gallos:
¡si viera mis afliciones
pensando yo que eran callos!


333
Con gato y con fandanguillo
había empezado el changango,
y para ver el fandango
me colé haciendomé bola,
mas metió el diablo la cola,
y todo se volvió pango.

334
Había sido el guitarrero
un gaucho duro de boca:
yo tengo paciencia poca
pa aguantar cuando no debo;
a ninguno me le atrevo,
pero me halla el que me toca.

335
A bailar un pericón
con una moza salí,
y cuanto me vido allí
sin duda me conoció;
y estas coplitas cantó
como por raírse de mí:

336
las mujeres son todas
como las mulas;
yo no digo que todas,
pero hay algunas
que a las aves que vuelan
les sacan plumas.

337
Hay gauchos que presumen
de tener damas;
no digo que presumen,
pero se alaban,
y a lo mejor los dejan
tocando tablas.

338
Se secretiaron las hembras,
y yo ya me encocoré;
volié la anca y le grité:
¡dejá de cantar- chicharra!
Y de un tajo a la guitarra
tuitas las cuerdas corté.

339
Al punto salió de adentro
un gringo con un jusil;
pero nunca he sido vil,
poco el peligro me espanta;
yo me refalé la manta
y la eché sobre el candil.

340
Gané en seguida la puerta
gritando: ¡nadies me ataje!
Y alborotado el hembraje,
lo que todo quedo escuro,
empezó a verse en apuro
mesturao con el gauchaje.

341
El primero que salió
fue el cantor, y se me vino;
pero yo no pierdo el tino
aunque haiga tomao un trago,
y hay algunos por mi pago
que me tienen por ladino.

342
No ha de haber achocao otro:
le salió cara la broma;
a su amigo cuando toma
se le despeja el sentido,
y el pobrecito había sido
como carne de paloma.

343
Para prestar un socorro
las mujeres no son lerdas:
antes que la sangre pierda
lo arrimaron a unas pipas;
ahi lo dejé con las tripas
como pa que hiciera cuerdas.

344
Monté y me largué a los campos
más libre que el pensamiento,
como las nubes al viento
a vivir sin paradero,
que no tiene el que es matrero
nido, ni rancho, ni asiento.

345
No hay juerza contra el destino
que le ha señalao el cielo,
y aunque no tenga consuelo,
¡aguante el que está en trabajo!
¡Nadies se rasca pa abajo,
ni se lonjea contra el pelo!

346
Con el gaucho desgraciao
no hay uno que no se entone
¡la menor falta lo espone
a andar con los avestruces
faltan otros con más luces
y siempre hay quien los perdone.


XII - Ansí estuve en la partida.

347
Yo no sé qué tantos meses
esta vida me duró;
a veces nos obligó
la miseria a comer potro:
me había acompañao con otros
tan desgraciaos como yo

348
Mas ¿para qué platicar
sobre esos males, canejos?
Nace el gaucho y se hace viejo,
sin que mejore su suerte,
hasta que por ahi la muerte
sale a cobrarle el pellejo.

349
Pero como no hay desgracia
que no acabe alguna vez,
me aconteció que después
de sufrir tanto rigor,
un amigo, por favor,
me compuso con el juez.

350
Le alvertiré que en mi pago
ya no va quedando un criollo:
se los ha tragao el hoyo,
o juido o muerto en la guerra;
porque, amigo, en esta tierra
nunca se acaba el embrollo.

351
Colijo que jué por eso
que me llamó el juez un día,
y me dijo que quería
hacerme a su lao venir,
y que dentrase a servir
de soldao de polecía.

352
Y me largó una proclama
tratándome de valiente;
que yo era un hombre decente,
y que dende aquel momento
me nombraba de sargento
pa que mandara la gente.

353
Ansí estuve en la partida,
pero ¿qué había de mandar?
Anoche al irlo a tomar
vide güena coyontura,
y a mí no me gusta andar
con la lata a la cintura.

354
Ya conoce, pues, quién soy;
tenga confianza conmigo:
Cruz le dio mano de amigo,
y no lo ha de abandonar;
juntos podemos buscar
pa los dos un mesmo abrigo.

355
Andaremos de matreros
si es preciso pa salvar;
nunca nos ha de faltar
ni un güen pingo pa juir,
ni un pajal ande dormir,
ni un matambre que ensartar.

356
Y cuando sin trapo alguno
nos haiga el tiempo dejao,
yo le pediré emprestao
el cuero a cualquiera lobo,
y hago un poncho, si lo sobo,
mejor que poncho engomao.

357
Para mí la cola es pecho
y el espinazo es cadera
hago mi nido ande quiera
y de lo que encuentro como;
me echo tierra sobre el lomo
y me apeo en cualquier tranquera.

358
Y dejo rodar la bola,
que algún día se ha de parar-
tiene el gaucho que aguantar
hasta que lo trague el hoyo,
o hasta que venga algún criollo
en esta tierra a mandar.

359
Lo miran al pobre gaucho
como carne de cogote:
lo tratan al estricote
y si ansí las cosas andan,
porque quieren los que mandan,
aguantemos los azotes.

360
¡Pucha! Si usté los oyera,
como yo en una ocasión
tuita la conversación
que con otro tuvo el juez;
le asiguro que esa vez
se me achicó el corazón.

361
Hablaban de hacerse ricos
con campos en la fronteras,
de sacarla más ajuera,
donde había campos baldidos
y llevar de los partidos
gente que la defendiera.

362
Todos se güelven proyetos
de colonias y carriles,
y tirar la plata a miles
en los gringos enganchaos,
mientras al pobre soldao
le pelan la cucha- ¡ah, viles!




363
Pero si siguen las cosas
como van hasta el presente,
puede ser que redepente
veamos el campo disierto,
y blanquiando solamente
los güesos de los que han muerto

364
Hace mucho que sufrimos
la suerte reculativa
trabaja el gaucho y no arriba
porque a lo mejor del caso,
lo levantan de un sogazo
sin dejarle ni saliva.

365
De los males que sufrimos
hablan mucho los puebleros,
pero hacen como los teros
para esconder sus niditos:
en un lao pegan los gritos
y en otro tienen los güevos.


366
Y se hacen los que no aciertan
a dar con la coyontura:
mientras al gaucho lo apura
con rigor la autoridá,
ellos a la enfermedá
le están errando la cura.


XIII - A los indios me refalo.

367
ya veo que somos los dos
astillas del mesmo palo:
yo paso por gaucho malo
y usté anda del mesmo modo;
y yo, pa acabarlo todo,
a los indios me refalo.

368
Pido perdón a mi Dios
que tantos bienes me hizo,
pero dende que es preciso
que viva entre los infeles,
yo seré cruel con los crueles:
ansí mi suerte lo quiso.

369
Dios formó lindas las flores,
delicadas como son;
le dio toda perfeción
y cuanto él era capaz,
pero al hombre le dio más
cuando le dio el corazón.

370
Le dio claridá a la luz,
juerza en su carrera al viento,
le dio vida y movimiento
dende la águila al gusano;
pero más le dio al cristiano
al darle el entendimiento.

371
Y aunque a las aves les dio,
con otras cosas que inoro,
esos piquitos como oro
y un plumaje como tabla
le dio al hombre más tesoro
al darle una lengua que habla.

372
Y dende que dio a las fieras
esa juria tan inmensa,
que no hay poder que las venza
ni nada que las asombre,
¿qué menos le daría al hombre
que el valor pa su defensa?

373
Pero tantos bienes juntos
al darle, malicio yo
que en sus adentros pensó
que el hombre los precisaba
que los bienes igualaba
con las penas que le dio.

374
Y yo empujao por las mías
quiero salir de este infierno:
ya no soy pichón muy tierno
y sé manejar la lanza,
y hasta los indios no alcanza
la facultá de gobierno

375
yo sé que allá los caciques
amparan a los cristianos,
y que los tratan de
cuando se van por su gusto.
¡A qué andar pasando sustos-!
Alcemos el poncho y vamos.







376
En la cruzada hay peligros,
pero ni aun esto me aterra:
yo ruedo sobre la tierra
arrastrao por mi destino;
y si erramos el camino-
no es el primero que lo erra.

377
Si hemos de salvar o no,
de esto naides nos responde;
derecho ande el sol se esconde
tierra adentro hay que tirar;
algún día hemos de llegar-
después sabremos a dónde.

378
No hemos de perder el rumbo:
los dos somos güena yunta.
El que es gaucho ve ande apunta
aunque inora ande se encuentra;
pa el lao en que el sol se dentra
dueblan los pastos la punta.

379
De hambre no pereceremos,
pues, sigún otros me han dicho,
en los campos se hallan bichos
de los que uno necesita-
gamas, matacos, mulitas
avestruces y quirquinchos.

380
Cuando se anda en el desierto
se come uno hasta las colas;
lo han cruzao mujeres solas
llegando al fin con salú,
y ha de ser gaucho el ñandú
que se escape de mis bolas.


381
Tampoco a la sé le temo;
yo la aguanto muy contento;
busco agua olfatiando el viento
y, dende que no soy manco,
ande hay duraznillo blanco
cavo, y la saco al momento.

382
Allá habrá siguridá
ya que aquí no la tenemos;
menos males pasaremos
y ha de haber grande alegría
el día que nos descolguemos
en alguna toldería.

383
Fabricaremos un toldo,
como lo hacen tantos otros,
con unos cueros de potro,
que sea sala y sea cocina.
¡Tal vez no falte una china
que se apiade de nosotros!

384
Allá no hay que trabajar,
vive uno como un señor;
de cuando en cuando un malón,
y si de él sale con vida,
lo pasa echao panza arriba
mirando dar güelta el sol

385
Y ya que a juerza de golpes
la suerte nos dejó aflús
puede que allá veamos luz
y se acaben nuestras penas:
todas las tierras son güenas;
vamonós, amigo Cruz.

386
El que maneja las bolas,
el que sabe echar un pial
y sentársele a un bagual
sin miedo de que lo baje,
entre los mesmos salvajes
no puede pasarlo mal.

387
El amor como la guerra
lo hace el criollo con canciones;
a más de eso en los malones
podemos aviarnos de algo;
en fin amigo, yo salgo
de estas pelegrinaciones.


*388***
En este punto el cantor
buscó un porrón pa consuelo,
echó un trago como un cielo,
dando fin a su argumento;
y de un golpe el instrumento
lo hizo astillas contra el suelo.

389
Ruempo, dijo, la guitarra,
pa no volverme a tentar;
ninguno la ha de tocar,
por siguro tengaló;
pues naides ha de cantar
cuando este gaucho cantó.

390
Y daré fin a mis coplas
con aire de relación;
nunca falta un preguntón
más curioso que mujer,
y tal vez quiera saber
como jué la conclusión.

391
Cruz y Fierro de una estancia
una tropilla se arriaron;
por delante se la echaron
como criollos entendidos,
y pronto sin ser sentidos
por la frontera cruzaron.

392
Y cuando la habían pasao,
una madrugada clara
le dijo Cruz que mirara
las últimas poblaciones,
y a Fierro dos lagrimones
le rodaron por la cara.

393
Y siguiendo el fiel del rumbo
se entraron en el desierto,
no sé si los habrán muerto
en alguna correría,
pero espero que algún día
sabré de ellos algo cierto.

394
Y ya con estas noticias
mi relación acabé;
por ser ciertas las conté,
todas la desgracias dichas:
es un telar de desdichas
cada gaucho que usté ve.

395
Pero ponga su esperanza
en el Dios que lo formó;
y aquí me despido yo
que he relatao a mi modo
MALES QUE CONOCEN TODOS,
PERO QUE NAIDES CONTÓ.






1
Here I come to sing to the beat of my guitar:
because a man who is kept from sleep by an uncommon sorrow
comforts himself with singing, like a solitary bird.


2
I beg the saints in heaven to help my thoughts:
I beg them here and now as I start to sing my story
that they refresh my memory and make my understanding clear.

3
Come, saints with your miracles, come all of you to my aid,
because my tongue is twisting and my sight growing dim—
I beg my God to help me at this hard time.


4
I have seen many singers whose fame was well won,
and after they've achieved it they can't keep it up -- it's as if they'd tired in the trial runs* without ever starting the race. - (Local horse-racing was a big event in gaucho life)

5
But where another criollo* goes Martin Fierro will go too:
there's nothing sets him back, even ghosts don't scare him --
and since everybody sings I want to sing also.


6
Singing I'll die, singing they'll bury me,
and singing I'll arrive at the Eternal Father's feet –
out of my mother's womb I came into this world to sing.


7
Let me not he tongue-tied nor words fail me:
singing carves my fame, and once I set myself to sing
they'll find me singing, even though the earth should open up.


8
I'll sit down in a hollow to sing a story --
I make the grass-blades shiver as if it was a wind that blew:
my thoughts go playing there with all the cards in the pack.* ("Coins, Cups, and Clubs")


9
I'm no educated singer, but if I start to sing
there's nothing to make me stop and I'll grow old singing --
the verses go spouting from me like water from a spring.


10
With the guitar in my hand even flies don't come near me:
no one sets his foot on me, and when I sing full from my heart
I make the top string moan and the low string cry.

11
I'm the bull in my own herd and a braver bull in the next one;
I always thought I was pretty good, and if anyone else wants to try me
let them come out and sing and we'll see who comes off worst.

12
I don't move off the track even though they're out cutting throats:*
with the soft, I am soft, and I am hard with the hard,
and in a time of peril, no one has seen me hesitate.

13
In danger -- by Christ! my heart swells wide:
since the whole earth's a battlefield and no one need be surprised at that,
anyone who holds himself a man stands his ground, no matter where.


14
I am a gaucho, and take this from me as my tongue explains it to you:
for me the earth is a small place and could be bigger yet --
the snake does not bite me nor the sun burn my brow.

15
I was born as a fish is born at the bottom of the sea;
no one can take from me what I was given by God --
what I brought into the world I shall take from the world with me.

16
It is my glory to live as free as a bird in the sky:
I make no nest on this ground where there's so much to be suffered,
and no one follows me when I take to flight again.


17
In love I have no one to come to me with quarrels:
like those beautiful birds that go hopping from branch to branch
I make my bed in the clover and the stars cover me.

18
And whoever may be listening to the tale of my sorrows –
know that I never fight nor kill except when it has to be done,
and that only injustice threw me into so much adversity.

19
And listen to the story told by a gaucho who's hunted by the law;
who's been a father and husband hard-working and willing --
and in spite of that, people take him to be a criminal.




20
No one speak of sorrows to me because I live sorrowing;
and nobody should give himself airs even though he's got a foot in the stirrup --
even the gaucho with most sense often finds himself left on foot.

21
You gather experience in life, enough to lend and give away,
if you have to go through with it between tears and suffering –
because nothing teaches you so much as to suffer and cry.

22
Man comes blind into the world with hope tugging him on,
and within a few steps, misfortunes have caught him and beat him down...
La pucha --* the hard lessons Time with its changes brings! (*puta)

23
I have known this land when the working-man lived in it
and had his little cabin and his children and his wife...
It was a delight to see the way he spent his days.


24
Then... when the morning star was shining in the blessed sky,
and the crowing of the cocks told us that day was near,
a gaucho would make his way to the kitchen... it was a joy.

25
And sitting beside the fire waiting for day to come,
he'd suck at the bitter mate* till he was glowing warm,
while his girl was s1eeping tucked up in his poncho.(his girl/ china, meaning indian woman / criolla country girl.)
26
And just as soon as the dawn started to turn red,
and the birds to sing and the hens come down off their perch,
it was time to get going, each man to his work.


27
One would be tying on his spurs, someone else go out singing;
one choose a supple sheepskin, one a lasso, someone else a whip –
and the whinneying horses calling them from the hitching rail.


28
The one whose job was horse-breaking* headed for the corral,
where the beast was waiting, snorting fit to burst – wild and wicked as they come* and tearing itself to bits.


29
And there the skilful gaucho, soon as he'd got a rein on the colt,
would settle the leathers on his back and mount him straight away...
A man shows, in this life, the craft God gave to him.

30
And plunging around the clearing, the brute would tear itself up
while the man was playing him with the round spurs, on his shoulders
and he'd rush out squirming with the leathers squeaking loud.

31
Ah, what times they were! you felt proud to see how a man could ride.
When a gaucho really knew his job, even if the colt went right over backward,
not one of them wouldn't land on his feet with the halter-rein in his hand.

32
And while some were breaking-in, others went out on the land
and rounded up the cattle and got together the horse-herds –
and like that, without noticing, they'd pass the day, enjoying themselves.

33
And as night fell, you'd see them together again in the kitchen,
with the fire well alight and a hundred things to talk over –
they'd be happy, chatting together till after the evening meal.

34
And with your belly well filled it was a fine thing
to go to sleep the way things should be, in the arms of love –
and so to next day, to begin the work from the day before.


35
I remember--- ah, that was good! how the gauchos went around,
always cheerful and well mounted and willing for work...
But these days--- curse it! you don't see them, they're so beaten down.

36
Even the poorest gaucho had a string of matching horses,
he could always find some amusement, people were ready for anything....
Looking out across the land you'd see nothing but cattle and sky.

37
When the branding-time came round that was work to warm you up!
What a crowd! lassooing the running steers and quick to hold and throw them....
What a time that was! in those days for sure you'd see some champions.

38
You couldn't call that work, it was more like a party –
and after a good throw when you'd managed it skilfully,
the boss used to call you over to give you a swig of liquor,

39
because the great jug of booze* (mamajuana (mamar= get drunk) always lived there under the cart,
and anyone who wasn't shy, when he saw the open spout, would take a hold on it fearlessly as an orphan calf to the teat.

40
And the games that would get going when we were all of us together!
We were always ready for it, as at times like those
a lot of neighbours would turn up to help out the regular hands.

41
For the womenfolk, those were days full of hurry and bustling
to get the cooking done and serve the people properly...
And so like this, we gauchos always lived in grand style.

42
In would come the meat roast in the skin and the tasty stew,
cooked maize well ground, pies and wine of the best...
But it has been the will of fate that all these things should come to an end.

43
A gaucho'd live in his home country as safe as anything,
but now -- it's a crime! things have got to be so twisted
that a poor man wears out his life running from the authorities.

44
Because if you set foot in your house and the Mayor finds out about it,
he'll hunt you like a beast even if it makes your wife miscarry....
But there's no time that won't come to an end nor a rope that won't break sometime.

45
And you can give yourself up for dead right away, if the Mayor catches you,
because he'll come down on you there and then, with a flogging --
and then if a gaucho puts up a fight they call him a hard case.

46
They'll bruise your back with beating and break your head open for you,
and then without any more ado, bleeding as you are and all,
they lash your elbows together and head you for the stocks.

47
That's where your misfortunes start, and that's where the dance begins –
because now there' s no saving you, and whether you like or not
they send you off to the frontier,* or sling you into a regiment. (frontier forts against the land still occupied by indians)
48
That was the way my troubles began, the same as many another's.
If you like, I'll tell you... in more verses, what I've gone through.
Once you're done for, you can't be saved, not even by the holy saints.



49
In my part of the land, at one time, I had children, cattle, and a wife;
but my sufferings began, they pitched me out to the frontier –
and when I got back, what was I to find! a ruin, and nothing more.

50
I lived peacefully in my cabin like a bird in its nest,
my beloved children were growing up there at my side....
When you're unhappy, all that's left you is to mourn for good things that are lost.

51
What I enjoyed, in a country store* when there was most of a crowd
was to warm myself up a bit -- because when I've had a drink
the verses come from inside of me like water from a waterfall.

52
One day, there I was singing in the middle of a big party,
and the Justice of the Peace* thought he'd make the most of the occasion –
he appeared on the scene, and there and then he had the whole crowd rounded up.

53
The ones who knew best got away and managed to escape:
I didn't want to run off -- I'm a quiet one, and there was no reason –
I stayed there quite calmly and so I let myself get caught.

54
There was a gringo* (an immigrant, often Italian, also British) with a barrel-organ and a monkey that danced
who was making us laugh when the round-up came to him --
a huge fellow he was, and ugly! you should have seen how he cried.
55
Even an Englishman ditch-digger*(great ditch to defend the frontier) who'd said in the last war
that he wouldn't do the service because he came from Inca-la-perra –(Inglaterra=England; perra=bitch) he had to escape as well and take cover in the hills.*(the typical pampa is dead flat until its more "desert" outskirts are reached)
56
Not even the people looking on were spared from this bumper catch;
the singer was yoked together with the gringo who had the monkey –
only one, as a favour, the storeman's wife got to save.

57
They formed up a troop of recruits with the men they'd caught at the dance;
they mixed us in with some others that they'd grabbed as well....
Even devils didn't think up the things you see going on here.

58
The Judge had taken against me the last time we had to vote.*
I'd played it stubborn and I didn't go near him that day --
and he said I was working for the ones in the proposition.*

59
And that's how I suffered the punishment for someone else's sins, maybe.
Voting lists may be bad or good/buena, I always keep out of sight –
I'm a gaucho through and through and these things don't satisfy me.

60
As they sent us off, they made us more promises than at an altar.
The Judge came and made us speeches, and told us many times,
"In six months' time, boys, they'll be going out to relieve you".

61
I took a classy dark roan/horse - a real winner he was, the brute!
With him in Ayacucho* I won more money than there's holy water --
a gaucho always needs a good horse to get him a bit of credit.*(to bet on)

62
And without any more ado I loaded up with the gear I had:
saddle-rugs, poncho, everything there was in the house, I took the lot –
I left my girl that day with hardly a shirt to her back.

63
There wasn't a strap missing, I staked all I had, that time:
halter, tether, and leading-rein, lasso, bolas, and hobbles....
People seeing me so poor today won't believe all this, maybe!

64
And so, with my dark roan tossing his head I made for the frontier.
I tell you, you ought to see the place they call a fort --
I wouldn't even envy a mouse who had to live in that hole.

65
Of all the wretched men who were there they hadn't let one go free.
The older ones grumbled, but when one made a complaint
straight away they staked him out* and that was the end of that.

66
At the evening roll-call the Chief showed us his hand,
saying, "Anyone who deserts will get five hundred straight.
We won't pull any punches – he'll find he'd be better dead."

67
They didn't give arms to anyone because the whole lot there were
were being kept by the Colonel (so he said on that occasion)
so as to hand them out on the day if an invasion came.

68
At first they left us to laze around and grow fat,
but afterwards -- I daren't tell you the things that happened next.
Curse it! they treated us the way you treat criminals.


69
Because they'd go hitting you with their swords, on your back –
even though you weren't doing anything it was bad as in Palermo,*(tyrant Rosas (ruled 1835-52) they'd give you such a time in the stocks that it would leave you sick.

70
And as for indians* and army service -- there wasn't even a barracks there.
The Colonel would send us out to go and work in his fields,
and we left the cattle on their own for the heathens to carry off.

71
The first thing I did was sow wheat, then I made a corral;
I cut adobe for a wall, made hurdles, cut straw....
la pucha! how you work and they don't even throw you a cent.*real

72
And the worst of all that mess is that if you start to get your back up,
they come down on you like lead... Who'd put up with a hell like that!
If that's serving the Government I don't care for the way they do it.

73
For more than a year they kept us at this hard labour;
and the indians, you may be sure, came in whenever they liked –
as nobody went after them they were never in any hurry.

74
Sometimes, when the look-out patrol came back from the plain, they'd say
that we ought to be on the alert, the indians were moving in,
because they'd found some tracks or the carcass of a mare.*indians ate horse-meat.

75
Only then the order would go out for us to form a line,
and we'd turn up at the fort bareback, even two aback,
unarmed -- half a dozen poor beggars going out just to get scared.

76
And now the fuss began, all for show, naturally,
of them teaching army drill to the crowd of gaucho recruits,
with an instructor, a... fool! who'd never learnt his job.


77
Then they'd give out the arms to defend the fortifications,
which consisted of pikes and old swords tied together with strips of hide --
the firearms I don't count because there was no ammunition.

78
(And one of the sergeants, when he was drunk, told me they did have some,
but that they used to sell it for hunting ostriches -- so that was how they went day and night blasting away at the birds.)


79
And when the indians went off with whatever they'd looted,
we'd set out in a great hurry chasing after them –
if they didn't take more with them it's because they hadn't found it.


80
And there truly you see misfortune and tears and sufferings.
No one asks the indians for mercy -- where they break in
they'll steal and kill all they come across and burn down the settlements.

81
Even the poor little angels aren't saved from their fury --
old men, boys and children, they kill them all in the same way --
an indian fixes everything with his spear and a yell.

82
Your flesh shakes to see them, their manes flying in the wind,
reins in their left hand and spear in the right –
they break through wherever they turn, as there's no spear-thrust goes wide.


83
They ride tremendous distances from deep inside the desert,
and so they arrive half dead of hunger and thirst and fatigue --
but an indian's like the ant that stays awake night and day.

84
He knows how to handle the bolas* as no one else can handle them –
as his enemy moves away he'll sling off a loose ball,
and if it reaches him it won't leave him alive.


85
And an indian is tough as a tortoise, to finish off – if you do get to spill his guts it won't even worry him,
he'll stuff them back in a moment, hunch down and gallop away.


86
They used to plunder as they pleased and then went off scot-free.
They took the captive women with them, and we were told that sometimes
poor women, they used to cut the skin off their feet, alive.

87
Curse it, if your heart didn't break seeing so many crimes!
Not even able to gallop we'd follow them far behind --
and how could we have caught up with them on those broken-down old nags!

88
After two or three more days we would turn back to the fort
with our horses dropping by the road -- and so that someone could sell it,
we'd round up the cattle they'd left straggling behind.

89
Once, out of the many times when we rushed out uselessly,
the indians landed on us with such a raid and a spear-attack, that from that time onwards people lost their nerve.


90
They'd been hiding in ambush, behind some higher ground.
You should have seen your friend Fierro flinching as if he was soft!
They shot out like popcorn the moment a cow-bell rang.

91
Although there were a good many of them we took our stand where were.
In a moment we formed up the few men that we had –
and they charged us in a line beating their mouths with their hands.

92
They came on in a stampede that made the ground shake....
I'm not lame when there's fighting to be done, but I was in a sweat
because I was riding a half-wild horse that I'd caught in the hills.

93
What a yelling, what a racket! what a rate they moved at!
The whole of that indian band landed on us howling --
pucha! they scattered us like a herd of wild mares.

94
And the mounts those heathens had! like a flash, they were so fast.
They clashed into us, and then in the confusion
take one -- leave one -- they picked us off with their spears.

95
Anyone who gets lanced by them is not likely to recover....
Finally, to make the story short, we got out of those hills
like a flock of pigeons flying away from hawks.

96
You have to admire the skill of the way they handle a spear.
They never give up a chase and they pressed close after us --
we were in such a hurry we could have jumped over the horses' ears.

97
And just to add to the fun at the height of this danger,
up came an indian frothing at the mouth with his spear in his hand,
yelling out, Christian finish! Spear go in up to feather!*feathers behind the spear-head.

98
He rushed at me screaming stretched flat along the horse's ribs,
brandishing over his arm a lance long as a lassoo – one false move, and that devil will have me off with a swing of the shaft.


99
If I lose my head or hesitate I won't escape, that's certain.
I've always been pretty tough, but on that occasion
my heart was bumping like the throat of a toad.

100
God forgive that savage the way he wanted to get me....
I got out my Three Maries* (the three balls of the bolas) and led him on, dodging round -- pucha! if I hadn't had bolas he'd have had my guts that day.

101
He was the son of a chieftain according to what I found out --
the truth of the matter was he had me very worried indeed --
till finally, with a bolas-swing I got him down off his horse.

102
I threw myself off right away and stood on his shoulder-blades.
He started making faces and trying to hide his throat -- but I performed the holy deed of stretching him out cold.


103
There he stayed as a landmark and I jumped on his horse.
I made off fast from the indians as if they caught me, it meant death -- and in the end I escaped from them by the skin of my teeth.*with the string still round my leg".




104
I'll carry on with this story though it's too long by half ...
Just imagine, if you can, how I'd be on my guard
after I'd saved my skin from a danger cruel as that one

105
I won't be telling you about our pay, because that kept well out of sight.
At times we'd reach the state of howling from poverty –
the cash never got to us that we were hoping for.

106
And we went around so filthy it was horrible to look at us.
I swear to you, it hurt you to see those men, by Christ!
I've never seen worse poverty in all my bitch of a life.

107
I hadn't even a shirt nor anything that was like one – the only use my rags were in the end, was to light the fire...
There's no plague like an army fort to teach a man to endure.


108
Poncho, saddle-rugs, harness, my clothes, the coins off my belt,*"buttons"
I tell you, the whole lot got left one by one, in the barrack-store ...
The rats and the poverty had got me half crazed by now.

109
Only one rough blanket was all that was left to me.
I'd acquired it playing taba,*(a dice game) and that just served to cover me ...
The lice that got in there wouldn't leave -- not even with a free pardon.

110
And on top of that, even my dark roan slipped from out of my hands.
I'm not a fool, but I tell you, brother ... the Commandant came up one day,
saying he wanted him, "to teach him how to eat grain."*a high-class diet.

111
So imagine, anyone, the state your friend here was in:
on foot with his navel showing, poor and naked and worn out --
they couldn't have treated me worse even as a punishment.

112
And so the months passed by and the next year came,
and likewise, everything went on just as it did before –
all done on purpose, seemingly, to drive the men there mad.

113
We gauchos weren't allowed to do anything of our own
except to go out at dawn when no indians were around,
to hunt with bolas in the open country and ride the Government horses lame.

114
And we'd turn up at the camp with our mounts done in,
but someimes pretty well provided with feathers,* and a few hides,
that we'd trade in right there with the keeper of the store.

115
The man who kept the store was a friend of the Chief.
He gave us mate and tobacco in exchange for the ostrich-feathers --
even a glint of silver, if you'd brought him a hide.

116
All his stock was a few bottles and some barrels with nothing in them,
and yet he'd be selling people anything they required -- some of them believed it was the Quartermaster's store he had there.

117
He never went short of a thing, that crafty trader, curse him!
and as for greed, he'd swallow anything, just like an ostrich –
the men used to call it the Store Where Anything Goes.*"the store of Virtue"

118
Although it's fair that the man who's selling should bite off a bit for himself,
he stretched the point so far that with those four bottles he had
he loaded up whole carts-full of feathers and horse-hair and skins.

119
He had us all noted down with more reckonings than a rosary,
when they announced a payment or an Advance they were going to give out,
but the Lord knows who the fox was ate that up at the Paymaster's.

120
Because I never saw it come, and a good many days after that,
in the same store-house, they gave a credit –
which people accepted, very pleased to get this small amount.


121
Some of them took out their clothes which they'd got there in pawn,
others gave up the money for debts which were overdue ...
When the party was done, the store-keeper was left with the whole heap.

122
I leant back against a post giving them time to pay, and putting a good/ buena face on it I was acting dumb,
waiting for them to call me to collect my dole.


123
But I might just as well have stayed there stuck to that post for ever.
It was almost evening-prayer time and nobody called me ...
Things were looking murky, and I began to feel uneasy.

124
To get rid of my hunger pains I saw the Major, and went up to him.
I started edging up to him, and pretending to be shy I said,
"Maybe tomorrow... they'll finish paying us?"


125
"What d'you mean, tomorrow!" he answered back right away.
"The payment's finished now, trust you to be a greedy brute!"
I gave a laugh and said, "I.... haven't even had a cent."

126
He opened his eyes so wide they nearly fell off his face,
and right there he said again staring fit to eat me up,
"So what do you expect to get if you haven't got on the list!"

127
"This is a fine way to make a mess of things," I said to myself privately,
"It's two years I've been here and I've seen not a cent so far.
I get into all the fighting but I don't get onto the list!"

128
I could see it was a tricky case, and didn't want to wait any longer.
It's as well to live peaceably with whoever's in command of us –
and so, retreating backwards, I started to move away.

129
The Commandant heard all about it and called for me next day, telling me that he wanted to get things straightened out -- that this wasn't like Rosas's time,* (The recent dictator, famed for rough justice) no one was left owing these days.

130
He called the Corporal and the Sergeant and the inquiry began –
whether I'd come to the camp at this time, or the other,
and whether I'd come on a colt of my own, or a government horse, or a wild one.

131
And it was all a lot of fuss about nothing, and play-acting.
I could see it was all a trick for them to get fat on my purse -
but if I'd gone to the Colonel they'd make me complain at the stakes.

132
The sons of bitches – I hope their greed will split them down the seams.
Not even a bit of tobacco do they give the poor recruit,
and he's skinny as a mountain deer,* they keep him so underfed.

133
But what could I do against them, like an ostrich-chick in the wilds!
All I could do was give up for dead so as not to be worse off still ...
So I acted sleepy in front of them, though I'm pretty well wide awake.





134
I was getting hopeless, waiting for an opportunity when the indians would raid us, so that in the confusion (estragos/ravages)
I could turn outlaw (fugitivo que se refugiaba en los montes en busca de la libertad)on them and go back to my home.

135
You couldn't call that service nor defending the frontier,
it was more like a nest of rats where the strongest one (fuerte) plays the cat –
it was like gambling with a loaded dice.


136
Everything there works the wrong, way round, soldiers turn into labourers,
and go round the settlements out on loan for work –
they join them up again to fight when the indian robbers break in.

137
In this merry-go-round, I've seen many officers who owned land,
with plenty of work-hands and herds of cattle and sheep –
I may not be educated but I've seen some ugly deals.

138
And I take it (colegir- to deduce) they're not interested in getting things put straight -- if it was for that, the officer even though he stays there in charge,
would need no more than his poncho and sword, and his horse and his duty.

139
And so (ansina = así) , then, when I saw there was no curing that disease,
and that if I stayed there I'd maybe find my grave,
I thought the safest thing would be to make a move.

140
And then on top of it all, one night what a staking-out they gave me!
They nearly pulled me out of joint (descoyuntar) all because of a little quarrel -- curse it (¡ah hijo de una!), they stretched me out just like a fresh hide!

141
I never shall forget how it happened to me that time.
One night, I was coming in to the fort when one of the regulars,
On duty, who was fairly drunk -- failed to recognise me.

142
He was a gringo who talked so thick no one understood what he said.
Lord knows where he can have come from! he wasn't Christian, probably, as the only thing he said was he was a Pap-oli-tano.*napolitano

143
He was on sentry-duty (guard), and on account of the drink he'd had he couldn't see me too well and that was all there was to it -- the fool got a fright about nothing and I was left to pay the bill.*- "I was the turkey at the wedding feast"

144
When he saw me coming he called out Who dere! I dare, I answered -- Ands oop! he screamed at me – and I said, very quietly, And the soup's what you'll end in!* In the original the sentry says quen vivore instead of quien vive ("who goes there"), which Fierro turns to que viboras ("what snakes"); and then hargarto for haga alto ("halt") which Fierro makes into largarto ("lizard", i.e. coward).
145
Just then -- Christ save me! I heard the gun-catch click.
I ducked, and that moment the brute let off a shot at me –
being drunk, he fired without aiming, or I wouldn't be telling the tale.

146
Needless to say, at the sound of the shot the wasps' nest started buzzing.
Out came the officers, and so the fun began -- the gringo stayed at his post and I went to the staking-ground.


147
They stretched me on the earth between four bayonets.
The Major came along, fairly stinking, and started screaming out,
"I'll teach you, you devil, to go around claiming pay!"

148
They tied four girth straps to my hands and my heels;
I put up with their hauling without letting out a squeak,
and all through the night I cursed that gringo, till I wore him out.

149
I don't know why the Government sends us, out here to the frontier,
these gringos that don't even know how to handle a horse --
when they send a gringo, you'd think it was some kind of a wild animal.

150
They do nothing but make more work -- they can't even put a saddle on.
They're no use even for cutting up carcasses, and I've often seen
that even when the steers (res: castrated bull) were down they wouldn't go up to them / arrimar (to move closer).

151
And their worships (merced) spend their time clucking away (kakelen), noses together, till one of the recruits comes along to serve them with their roast meat -- and then it's true, they're so dainty (delicado, refinado) they look like rich men's sons.

152
If it's hot, they're no good for anything, if it freezes, they're all shivering.
Unless you offer it, they don't smoke so as not to pay for tobacco –
and when they do get hold of a wad of it they steal it off each other.

153
When it rains they huddle up like a dog, when it hears thunder –
the devil! all they're good for is to live like women --(marica: sissy/ afeminado,-a )
and they've no scruples at taking ponchos which don't belong to them.

154
As look-outs, they're good as blind -- in fact there's nothing they do know –
there's not one of them can learn, seeing something cross the skyline,
to tell if it's a bunch of ostriches, or a man on a horse, or a cow.

155
If they go out chasing the raiders, after a lot of fuss they all get sore legs (pelar/to peel) in a minute and start to drop behind like wreckage ...
Dealing with them is like putting eggs (huevo) to hatch under a cat.




156
Now we're just coming to the saddest part of the story,
even though the whole of my life is nothing but a chain of troubles –
every unhappy soul is glad to sing of its sufferings.

157
About that time they started rounding up horses,
and collecting the recruits and keeping them inside the fort - ready for an expedition to take the indians by surprise.


158
They informed us that we'd go without taking carts or baggage - to attack the savages right in their own camp – and when we got back (vuelta) they'd pay us and discharge the gaucho force.


159
And that for this expedition we'd got this to look forward to:
very shortly there was coming (according to what the Chief said) a Minister or Lord knows what who they called Don Gander.*Martin de Gainza 1863-74.

160
He was going to join together all the army and the regiments,
and he'd bring some cannons, with a lot of grooves like the stripes on mattress ticking - pucha... there was no end to the talk that went on about it.

161
But the kind of fox I am won't be caught by these sort of tricks.
Whether this Gander comes or goes doesn't matter much to an outlaw ...
I left some ticking behind me too -- drawn in the store-keeper's books.

162
I've never been caught sleeping, I'm always ready and quick to act:
I am a man, Christ save me! that nothing has turned to a coward,
and I've always fallen on my feet* from the dangers I've been in.

163
I've earned my living by my work ever since I was a child,
and though I've always stayed low down and don't know what it means to rise high -- too much of suffering, curse it! can tire us out, as well.

164
For all I'm ignorant, I can tell that I don't count in the world.
I can act like a hare or a hound according to the times –
but the men who rule us should play their part and care for us a bit, also.

165
One night, when the Chief and the Justice of the Peace -
were cracking a bottle together over a game of cards, I wouldn't wait any longer -- I took a horse (sotreta) and faded from sight.

166
For me the land's all flowers as soon as I feel I'm free:
wherever my fancy takes me I can turn my steps right there --
even in the dark I find my way wherever I want, for sure.(rumbear: encaminarse)

167
I get in and out of danger and disasters don't scare me,(estragos: ravages)
I don't give way (aflojar/to ease off) at the first attack, and I never was a fool --
I can find my way as well as a pig, and I soon turned up at my home.

168
I was returning after three years of suffering so much for nothing,
a deserter, naked and penniless, in search of a better life -- and like an armadillo*peludo, the commonest term for the animal, I headed straight for my cave .

169
I found not a trace of my cabin: there was only the empty shell.*(tapera (a ruin) is said to derive from indian words meaning "gone away") Christ! if that weren't a sight to bring sorrow to your heart.... I swore at that moment to be pitiless as a wild beast.

170
Is there anyone who'd not feel the same with so much to bear!
I can tell you that I burst out into tears, like a woman –(largar/ largué; to let … go)
ah God, but I was left sadder than Holy Thursday!

171
All there was to be heard was the mewing of a cat that had survived. Poor beast, it had been sheltering nearby, in a viscacha~hole –* (vizcacha, gnawing animal, live in warrens like rabbits), it came up as if it knew that I had come back home./vuelta

172
When I went, I left the cattle which were all that I owned --
according to what the Judge promised we should have come back soon afterwards,
and the wife, until then, was to look after the property.

173
Later, a neighbour told me the land had been claimed from them,
they had sold the cattle to pay off the rent, and Lord knows what other stories -- but it had all gone to ruin.


174
The boys, poor little things, among so many troubles, had taken service as work-hands -- but how were they going to work
when they were like young pigeons not yet finished feathering!


175
They must be wandering somewhere, enduring our cruel fate --
they've told me that the eldest would never leave his brother --
maybe some christian soul will take them in, out of pity.

176
And my poor wife, God knows what she must have suffered!
They tell me that she flew off with some kind of a sparrow-hawk –
no doubt to find the bread that I was not there to give her.

177
It often happens that someone needs what someone else has too much of:
If she hadn't a penny left but a swarm of children,
what else could she do, poor woman, so as not to starve to death!

178
Maybe I'll not see you again love of my heart!
God grant you his protection since he didn't give it to me – and from this place now I send my blessing on my sons.


179
They'll be wandering motherless like babes from the orphanage –
already left without a father -- that's how fate has abandoned them,
with no one to protect then, nor even a dog to bark at them.

180
Poor little creatures, maybe they've no place to shelter in,
nor a roof to stand under nor a corner to creep into,
nor a shirt to put on them, nor a poncho to cover themselves.

181
And people will see them suffer without pitying them, maybe –
it could be that sometime, though they see they're shivering,
they'll push them out from the fireside to get them out of the way.

182
And when they find they're chased away as you chase off a dog,
Martin Fierro's sons will go with their tails between their legs,
in search of kinder souls or to hide somewhere in the hills.

183
But I'll ask for my turn to throw in this game, as well.
I owe nothing to anyone, I ask no quarter nor give it --
and no one from this day on will catch me in the noose/armada: navy .

184
I acted quietly at first and now I'll live outside the law.
This is the sad state I'm in although I've been so deeply wronged -- I was born and grew up on the land,*(on an estancia) but I know the world by now.

185
I know its tricks by now, I know its crooked ways,
I know how they fix the game and twist and handle it –
I will undo this tangled knot even if it costs me my life.

186
And you'd better put up with it (aguantar:endure soportar - animar, ánimo), if you don't care to get mixed up in this dirty business/ engorro: nuisance, or if not, clear out of it*"pull your hat down", or emigrate to another land – but I live like a tiger after they've stolen its young.

187
Though many think that a gaucho feels no more pain than a worn-out horse,
you won't find one of them who's not bowed down by sorrows....
But a man must not weaken while there's blood left in his veins.




188
I found I was the wild card in the game not knowing where to go – and then they said I was a vagabond*(vagar /vago -ga: vagabundear, vagrancy laws punished unemployment-men) and started hounding me.

189
Troubles never grow smaller, they grow bigger, bit by bit –
and so it was, I soon found myself forced to keep on running away.

190
I had neither wife nor home and I was a deserter besides:
I had no decent (buena) clothes at all, and not a single coin on my belt.

191
I thought that I might find my poor sons again -- and I went round from one place to another without enough even to smoke.


192
One day -- worse luck -- I discovered there was a party somewhere nearby,
and half hopelessly I went there to see the dance.

193
I found so many friends joining in the dancing - that from happiness at being with them I got quite drunk, that night.


194
That time as never before the drink made me want a fight --
and I started it with a black man,* who'd brought a black girl riding behind him.

195
When I saw the darky girl arriving with her nose in the air, I said to her tipsily, "Just look who's mooving in!" *vaca (cow) hidden in va cayendo gente (people arriving).

196
The black girl understood what I'd meant and straight off she answered back --
looking at me as if I was a dog -- "It's your mother who was the cow!"

197
And she went in to the dance, very haughty, with her dress in a train like a fox's brush,- making her teeth flash white just like popcorn.


198
"Pretty black girl" said I, " a nice mattress... you'd make for me ..."
and then I started humming this catchy little rhyme:

199
"God made the white men, Saint Peter made the brown,
and the Devil made the black ones for coal to keep the hell-fires goin' "

200
The darky'd been getting his temper up ever since we were outside –
his eyes were blazing like lamps in the dark.


201
I could see he was sore at me -- I went up and said to him quick
"Maybe you're a bit fuzzy... in the head but there's no need to get annoyed!" *

202
He pranced about in his big boots, and feeling very sure of himself,
"It's you who's the fuzzy one you dirty gaucho," he said.

203
And he went for me like a shot, as if he was looking for the best place to split me -- and I obliged him with a crack from the pot of gin.

204
Right away Sooty started squealing, louder than a little pig -- and pulling out his knife he rushed at me yelling.


205
I gave a jump and cleared a space, saying to all around
Let me deal with this bull please, gentlemen -- I was born alone, that's how I'll die."

206
After he'd been hit, the black man had wrapped his poncho round his arm,*(as a shield) and he said "You'll soon find out if it's alone or in company!"

207
And while he was tucking up his clothes I took off my spurs,*so they wouldn't tangle in his loose pants) as I suspected this character might not be led too easily.

208
There's nothing like danger to wake you up if you're drunk --
even your sight gets clear however much you've swallowed.

209
The black man rushed at me as if he wanted to eat me up –
he aimed two strokes at me straight off and I fended both of them.

210
I had a long knife with an S-guard with a blade of pure steel.*gauchos knives were long, often made from broken swords) I struck at him -- he dodged it -- and the darky came on blind.

211
And I dealt him one with the flat of my knife right between the horns,
and sent him along the ground squirming just like a squib/firework/buscapiés.

212
The fuzz on his head turned red with the blood from the wound --
and he came on again, furious as a wild cat with cubs.

213
He sent his knife flashing right past my eyes -- and with the point of it he cut me on one cheek.* carrillo (an unforgiveable offence. Fierro uses it to excuse himsel)

214
The blood boiled in my veins and I closed in on the darky –
letting him have it cut and thrust to leave one devil less in the world.

215
Finally, in one attack I lifted (alzar:alcé)him on the knife – and I threw largar/largué)him against the fence like a sack of old bones/huesos.

216
He kicked a few times and then he gave his last gasp --*("sang for the slaughter-house". Fierro later tells his sons, "Blood that is spilt will never / be forgotten, till the day you die") the death throes of that black man is a thing I'll not forget.

217
At this point, up came the black girl with her eyes red as chille,
and poor thing, there she started howling like a she-wolf.
I'd have liked to give her a whack to see if it'd shut her up –
but on second thoughts I realized it wouldn't do just then,
and I decided not to beat her out of respect for the deceased.

218
I cleaned my knife on the grass, I untied my colt, I mounted slowly, and went off at a jog trot, towards the low lands.


219
Later I heard that in the end they didn't even give him a wake –
and they buried him wrapped up in a hide without even saying a prayer.

220
And ever since that time, they say, in the still of the night
there appears a ghostly glimmer* as if from a suffering soul.

221
And sometimes I think what I'll do so that he won't suffer so long,
is take his bones out from that place and stick them into the burial-ground.




222
Another time, I was in an eating-house having an afternoon drink,
when a gaucho turned up, a famous boaster as a fighter, and for acting tough.
When he got there, he rode his horse right up under the porch*horses were tied to the hitching-rail) and I stayed by the counter without saying anything.

223
He was the bully of that neighbourhood, and no one stood up to him
because he had influence with his worship the Commandant.
And as he was protected he went around full of airs,
and anyone who was badly off he'd sweep out of his way.

224
Poor man -- he must have thought to himself that he'd got life and to spare –
no one would have said that Death was lying in wait for him.
But that's what happens in the world, that's how this sad life is –
both the good luck and the bad are hidden for all of us.

225
He threw himself off, and as he came in he gave a shove to a Basque who was there,
and pushed a half-bottle at me saying, "Have a drink, brother-in-law –"
"It's on your sister's side, then," I answered -- "I'm not worried about mine."

226
"Ha, gaucho," he replied, "whereabouts can you be from –
maybe there's a grave looking out for you -- you must have a tough skin --
but there's no calf that’s going to bleat anywhere this bull roars!"

227
And we were at each other already, because that man wasn't slow –
but as I don't lose my head and I'm pretty quick off the mark,
I left him showing his guts from a back-stroke with my knife.

228
And as I wasn't in favour with the law thereabouts,
as soon as I saw him kicking and the store-keeper started yelling,
I went straight out to the hitching-rail trying to look innocent.

229
I mounted, and trusting to God made for another district -- because a gaucho they call a vagrant can have no place of his own,(fondness, inclination, attachment) so he lives from one trouble to the next lamenting what he has lost.

230
He's always on the run (huir / huyendo, el diablo), always poor and hounded:
he has neither a hole nor a nest as if there was a curse on him....(jura, jurar / (maldecir) to curse)
To be a gaucho ... God damn it, to be a gaucho is a crime.

231
He's like the Government post-horses, one leaves him, another takes him on –
and there's no end to this sport – since he was a child, he's like a young tree growing without shelter on a hill.


232
They splash the christening-water on a child born in the wilds –
"Find yourself a mother to look after you!" says the priest, and turns him loose,
and he starts out to cross the world like a donkey with its burden.

233
And he grows up like an unshorn sheep living out in the cold winds,
while his father's in the ranks serving the Government --
even though he's shivering in winter no one helps nor shelters him.

234
If they catch him enjoying himself they call him a drunk,(mamar: to breastfeed, to booze) and he's a "bad character" if they find him at a dance --
if he puts up a fight, he's doing wrong, and if he doesn't, he's... done for.

235
He has no children and no wife, no friends, and no one to protect him:
since everyone's his master and no one's on his side - he lives like an ox /buey; os-- and what's the fate of an ox when it can't plough?*he goes to the slaughterhouse)

235
His home is the wild grassland, his shelter is the desert plain;
and when he's half starving if he lassoos a yearling calf
they hound him close as a lawsuit because he's a "gaucho thief".

236
And if one day they strike at him and turn him belly-up,
there's not a pitying soul who'll say a prayer for him -- they'll throw him into a hole maybe, like a stray dog.(street dog, homeless, perro cimarrón)

237
He makes no money in peace-time and he's the first to go to war;
if he goes wrong, they don't forgive him as they don't know how to forgive --
because the only use a gaucho is in this land, is to vote.

238
It's for him there are prison cells, the cruel gaols are made for him;
nothing's right that comes out of his mouth even though he's got every right --
because the rights of poor men are like bells made of wood.

239
Put up with it, and you're an ignorant fool -- if you don't, you're a hard case.
Go on -- beat him, lash him! that's all he's good for.... For anyone born a gaucho this is his cursed fate.


240
So come on fate -- let's go together since together we were born:
and as we live together and can never separate,
I'll use my knife to clear the path we have to take.





242
I lived the life of an outlaw (matrero) , and never stayed where people lived.
I used to go there in the daytime -- but I was always up on the roof like a carancho-bird, spying out for the police.*local force appointed by the Judge, often of former criminals

243
A gaucho who's in trouble lives like a hunted fox,- until he makes the slightest slip and the dogs tear him to bits –
as even the man who's most careful always makes some mistake.


244
And at that hour of the evening when everything falls asleep,
and the world seems to enter into a life of purest calm,
he makes his way to the grasslands with sorrow in his soul.

245
The little lamb is bleating by the side of the white ewe (oveja: female sheep)
and the tethered calf calls out to the cow (vaca) as she moves away –
but a gaucho in his misfortune has no one to hear him cry.

246
And so, when night came on I would go and seek my lair (guarida: habitation of wild animals, hide-out), since where the wild cat makes its den a man can live as well –
and I didn't want the police-troop surrounding me in a house.

247
Even though when they come for you they're only doing their duty,
I see things another way and that's a rule I live by –
that no gaucho with any pride should fight where there are women.

248
And I'd go off on the plain all alone, wild (matrero- outlaw) as a deer (venado),
to look for a ruined cabin to shelter in, like a stray dog,
or to spend the night stretched out in a viscacha-warren.

249
Without an aim or a fixed course in that immensity,
with that great darkness round him, a gaucho roams like a ghost (duende)--
out there, the authorities will never catch him asleep.

250
Courage is his hope, caution is his protection, his horse means safety -- and you live in watchfulness (desvelar: to keep awake ) with no help except from heaven and no friend except your knife.


251
And so one night, I was out there gazing at the stars,
which it seems are more beautiful the more unhappy you are,
and that God must have created them for us to find comfort there.

252
A man feels love for them, and it's always with joy, that he sees the Three Maries*(the stars of Orion's Belt) coming out -- because when there's been rain,
as soon as it clears (escampar), on the pampa, the stars are a gaucho's guide.

253
Your Professors are no good here, experience is all that counts.
Here, those people who know everything would see how little they know –
because this has another key to it, and a gaucho knows what it is,

254
It's a sad thing to spend whole nights out in the midst of the plain,
gazing at the stars that God created, in their course,
without any company except the wild beasts (fiera) , and your loneliness (crime).

255
As I was saying.... there I was in that solitary place
with that great darkness round me, letting the wind hear my complaints –
when the cry of a chaja bird.*(cha-HA) made me prick up my ears.

256
I flattened myself on the ground like a worm, to listen -- soon I heard the beating of horses' hoofs – and I could tell straight off ( vacilar: to hesitate) there were riders (jinetes), a good many of them.


257
When a man's in danger he shouldn't be too confident,
so I fixed all my attention stretched there belly-down,
and before long I'd heard a sound like the clank of a sword.

258
They were coming so stealthily it put me on my guard:
maybe they'd spotted me and were coming to pick me up --
but I wouldn't run off as that's the coward's way out (cobarde).

259
Straight away, I crossed myself and took a swig of gin,
bending over the bottle curled up like an armadillo -- "If they're going to pay my wages ("give me money for tobacco)" I said, "it might as well be now."

260
I slipped off my spurs so as not to be fighting in shackles;
I rolled up my pants and. fixed my belt good and tight -- and on a tuft of grass I tried the edge of my knife.


261
I tied my horse to a clump of grass* (pasto, so that a simple pull on the rein would release it.) to have him ready at hand, I fixed his girth -- and with my back against him in that hour of danger, I waited for them, quite calm.

262
When I heard them near me and that they'd stopped right there, my hair stood up on end -- and though my eyes couldn't see anything, "Don't fret, you'll get what you want!"* ("you won't die of wanting") I said to them as they came up.

263
I wanted to let them know they'd got a man to deal with (varón):
I knew what they'd come for, and just because of that
I had first haul at them, not waiting for their call to give myself up.

264
"You're an outlaw" said one of them, acting virtuous (dueño: to be in control),
You've killed a coloured man and another one in a store,
and this is the police here come to settle your accounts –
they'll make you pay for it if you resist them now."

265
"Don't you come to me" I answered, "with tales about dead men --
this is another matter, see if you can come and get me --
I'm not surrendering even if you all come at once."

266
But they didn't wait any longer and dismounted, the whole crowd.
With so many of them, they surrounded me like hunting a wild dog --
I called on the saints to help me and got a hold on my knife.

267
And just then I saw the flash of a shot from a gun – but that shirker's*(firing a gun was seen as cowardl, real men use a knife). feeble luck decided to make him miss me –
and right there I lifted him on my knife, like a sardine.

268
Another one was in a hurry getting his bolas out --
I went for him just once and let him have a touch of steel,
and he bolted straight off, like a dog when someone treads on his tail.

269
They were getting so worried, and getting so desperate
that the whole lot came at me just where I was expecting them –
they fell on top of each other and couldn't see for trying.

270
Two of them who had swords and were more bold and daring
stopped, facing me, with their ponchos round their arms – *(as a shield when fighting with knives) and they rushed at me both at once like dogs let off the leash.

271
I moved backwards, as a trick, and threw my poncho in front of me –
and when one clumsy fool put his foot on it
I gave it a sudden pull and flung him onto his back.


272
When he found he was on his own the other one stopped short,
so then I went for him without giving him time to breathe --
but he'd begun to give way already and shot off like a... flash.

273
One of them had the blade of some shears*(tijeras: for sheep-shearing) tied to a long cane -- he came on as if he thought I was flimsy as a hitching-rail --
but with two well-aimed strokes from me he ran off into the distance, howling.

274
By good luck, at that moment the dawn came turning red –
and I said, "If the Virgin saves me in this dangerous hour,
I swear from now onwards to be gentle as a mallow-flower".

275
I gave a jump, and fearlessly I got in amongst them all –
I stayed there, crouched on guard, and a pair of them went for me,
and I led them on, feinting with the point of my knife on the ground.

276
The greediest one of them lit on me with a slash, I fended it with my arm -- if not, he'd have killed some lice -- *(cut my scalp)
and before he could take a step I threw dust into both his eyes.


277
And while he was shaking his head, rubbing his eyes, trying to see,
I was at him like a streak*(like the stripe on a poncho) and right there I closed with him.
"God help you" I said -- and had him down with a back-hand stroke.

278
But at that very instant I felt the point of a sword - tickling me in the ribs, and my blood turned to ice....
From that moment onwards there was no holding me.


279
I took a few steps backwards till I could get a footing –
cutting and thrusting I threw one man down in front of me --
he put his foot in a hole in the ground, and under the ground I sent him.

280
Maybe it was a blessed saint who touched the heart
of one gaucho there, who shouted and said,"This is Cruz --
and I'll have no part in the crime of killing a brave man this way!"

281
And there and then he came to my side and attacked the troop of police.
I rushed at them again -- between two of us, it was robbery --
and this man Cruz was fighting like a wolf* defending its lair (guarida).

282
He sent one of them off to hell out of two that attacked him –
the rest crowded backwards because there was no stopping us –
and before long they scuttled off like a pack of vermin.

283
The ones who were stretched out cold stayed there side by side,
another went slung like a saddle-bag -- and Cruz called after them,
"Get some more police to come with a cart to take them away!"

284
I heaped up the corpses, I knelt and said a prayer for them.
I made a cross from a little stick and asked my God in his mercy
to forgive me for the crime of killing so many men.

285
We left the poor men who had died piled up in a heap;
we went off to shelter, so I don' t know if they collected them
or if the caranchos ate them right there where they were.

286
The two of us grabbed the bottle from hand to hand between us –
at a time like that anyone's glad of a drink,
and Cruz was never a slow one, he didn't stint his throat.


287
We warmed our gullets, and we rode off holding ourselves very stiff,
still keeping on kissing the spout and by the look of us
we must have seemed like storks when they're stretching out their necks.

288
"My friend," I said, "I'm going wherever fate may take me,
and if there's anyone who dares to get in my way,
I'll follow my destiny -- because a man does what he must.

289
"I'm a gaucho who's out of luck -- I have no place to shelter in,
not a post to scratch myself on, nor a tree to shade me –
but even these things don't worry me because I can look after myself.

290
"Before I got caught for the army I had a family and a cattle herd –
when I got back, they hadn't even left my woman to me....
What the end of this fight will be only God can tell."



CRUZ

291
I tell you, friend. that suffering is what men were born to do.
It's at times like these you show you're a man of strength (fuerte)–
until death comes and grabs you and knocks you on the head.

292
It's no discredit to me going around so poorly dressed.
I may not be a saint, but I can feel for someone else's troubles – I may look a poor flat sort of pancake, but I'm a good fat pie at heart.*(pastel relleno) a luxury item of gaucho food.

293
I warn you, I've no lack myself of troubles and misfortunes –
I've got my sorrows too, though I’m not too worried by that –
I can act like a lame pig when the situation requires it.

294
And with a few tricks I know I keep alive, even though it's in rags.
Sometimes I act as if I'd got the plague and there's not a spot on my skin –
but I'm keen to get at the liquor flask as a fat man is for popcorn.

295
Sorrows don' t kill me so long as my skin's whole.
Let the sun come in summer and the frost in winter time – if this world is a hell, what's that to worry a christian man?

296
Let's show a brave face to our troubles, brother – as even the cunningest (skilled in deception / matrero) old fox can fall into a trap like a duck – he'll come to steal a lamb and leave his skin stretched on the stakes.


297
These days, we're obliged to suffer crimes worse than you can say,
but no one need be surprised at that -- that's the way the pudding's cooked –
a man has to turn this way and that spinning round (vueltas) like a reel.(spool - carrete)

298
I'll never give myself up (entregar) into the arms of death:
I drag (arrastrar) my sad fate along step by step and as best I can –
because where a weak man gets stuck a strong one can pull through.

299
Everyone has to keep in mind, each one, what he's had to suffer.
As for me, friend, that's the way I do my own accounts –
what's past is past now, tomorrow's another day.

300
I too used to have a woman ('Bien empilchado' se utiliza para describir a aquel que usa buenas ropas o un apero lujoso) who filled my heart up full -- and at that time, if anyone had come looking for me - they'd have found me for sure stuck close on her as a button.

301
There's no beast that'll lose its way along the trail of love --
women don't miss chances, and any gaucho's top of his class
when he's singing to his love if it means tuning the strings.

302
Is there any one so hard of soul as not to love a woman?
She'll help him in his troubles -- unless he's one who treats them light, she's the best companion a man can have in life.


303
If she's a good one, she won't leave him when she sees he's out of luck,
she'll help him by caring for him willingly with her love --
and maybe you've not given her even a skirt or a shawl.

304
It was a grand life I had with that girl of mine,
living in happiness like a fly in honey...
What a time that was, friend! la pucha! but I loved her!


305
She was an eagle, flying down from the clouds to a tree --
she was prettier than the dawn when the sun comes streaking up – she was a lovely flower growing in a clover field.


306
However, my friend -- the Commandant in charge of the militia
wasn't one to lose chances, and he came sneaking into my house –
I could tell from the look of him that he was up to no good.

307
He pretended to be my friend, but I didn't trust him.
He was the Chief, and naturally I couldn't compete with him –
he stuck close to my cabin just as fast as a leech.

308
Before long, I could tell he'd pushed me off my seat.
He was always full of fancy talk though he never gave me a cent –
he had me sent all over the country like the cheap-rate letter post.

309
He was always sending me long distances, as a messenger:
now it would be to a big ranch, now to the town, now the frontier –
but inside the Commandant's office he never so much as set foot.

310
A man going through his hard life is the saddest thing there can be
if he doesn't have a woman to help and comfort him –
but for someone else to get her from you, better not to have one at all.

311
I don't like it when another cock comes cackling round. my hen,
I'd already got my suspicions, and then one fine day
I caught him beside the fire with his arms round my girl.

312
The old fellow had a face on him like a calf licked the wrong way,
and seeing him so daring I said "Better make the most of it –
you must have been bleating for a bit of love like a stray lamb* for milk."

313
He pulled out his sword and went for me as if he wanted to spit me through,
but I didn't hesitate, I went right on and said,- "Careful you don't get yourself... bogged down -- you'll need some help to get out of this one."* (double meaning insulting to old age)

314
He aimed a thrust at me but I got out of the way,- and as I dodged it -- carefully, so as not to kill an old man --
from a little way off, I gave him a whack with the flat of my sword .


315
But as the one who's in command always has some hanger-on, on this occasion, one of these who was standing there nearby
came up, gritting his teeth like a milk-fed puppy.


316
He sent a revolver-shot at me which he thought couldn't fail –
he was sure of himself, and I'll swear to you it did come pretty close,
but when I'm in a tight spot my joints always loosen up.

317
He kept on shooting but couldn't get to hit me -- and I went snaking round him till in the end I closed in
and there and then I finished him off without giving him time to breathe.


318
Next, I started in to round up the old love-bird. - Poor fellow, he'd hidden himself inside a tub of lye --*(ashes, used for cleaning) Lord knows the state he was in after the fright he'd had!


319
A christian man takes leave of his senses (zonzo: idiot) when love gets a hold over him.- He kept gazing at the wretched woman (indigno/a: humillante), and then I smelt such a stench - I've never known a stink like it not even in a town eating-house (fonda).

320
So I said to him "Your grandma had better clean up what you've dropped --"
I started choking and went out holding my nose, and the old boy stayed there sniffing like a baby that's got the worms.


321
When a mule starts backing it's a sign it's going to kick –
it always acts that way even though it tries to hide it --
and a woman backs away like a mule when she wants to forget.

322
I took my poncho and my gear and I went off to suffer wrong
through the fault of a woman who tried to cheat two men at once --
I said goodbye to my cabin never to return again.

322
Women -- I've known them all since then, from that one.
I won't try my luck again with a card that's marked so clear – women and bitches with litters*(treacherous) are things I don't go near.


CRUZ

324
Other folk can spout verses like water from a spring,
and the same thing happens with me though mine aren't worth anything –
out from my mouth they come like sheep out of a corral.

325
Soon as the first one comes through the gate the others follow it,
and the ones at the back come crowding hustling against the bars,
and jump and trample each other without a space between.

326
I'm ignorant, so it's hard work for me to make myself clear,
but when I get to open my trap you can take this for certain –
out comes one verse, and the next one will be poking its nose round the door.

327
So pay attention to me, you'll hear me tell of the sorrows
that fill the soul I bear – because no matter how things are
a gaucho pays for his ignorance with the blood from his veins.

328
After that misfortune I escaped to the wild grass-lands.
I roamed among the thistles* like a beast without a lair –
I can tell you, friend, to live that way means to live like an animal.

329
And so many wretched times I've found myself going through ,
that with all I've suffered, and all the pain I've had to bear,
I've an idea that my heart must have grown a callus on it (thickening of tissue).

330
So I roamed about like an orphan calf*(guacho: orphan, bastard) that's lost after a storm. - One day for my sins I heard of a dance that was going on,
and I headed my colt directly towards the local store.

331
The place where the dance was held was a shack you wouldn't care to die in,
and it got to be so crowded we had to shove our way through --
there'll always be collisions when a poor man starts having fun.

332
I had on some half-boots* ( gaucho boot (bota de potro) moulded from fresh skin off a horse's leg, leaving the toes free) which were pretty badly creased, they wore my heels into ridges till they looked like cocks' combs - you should have seen how worried I was thinking that I'd got corns!

333
The dancing had started up with gatos and fandanguillos,*(dances with songs), and so as to see the fun ( fandango: Antiguo baile español - Castañuelas) I ducked down and slipped in – but the Devil stuck his tail in too and messed up everything.

334
It turned out to be a big-mouth who was playing the guitar:...
I don't have much patience to let things pass, when there's no call to --
I don't go provoking people, but if they touch me, I'll be there.

335
I took a girl out to dance a pericon (danza folclórica Uruguay y Argentina, figure dance with the musician as "caller"), and soon as he saw me there he recognised me, no doubt, and he sang this little rhyme trying to make a fool of me:

336
Women are all of them
just like mules,
not quite all, I don't say –
but some of them
pull the feathers off
from birds who fly away.

337
Some gauchos think they know
how to keep a lady,
I won't say they think they can
but that's what they boast about --
and then most likely
they'll find they're left down and out.

338
The women started whispering and I'd got my temper up.
I swung round and shouted at him, "Stop chirping, grasshopper --"
And with one slash I cut through all the strings of his guitar.

339
In a flash, out from a back room came a gringo with a gun --
but I've never been a coward -- danger doesn't scare me much –
I slipped off my poncho and threw it over the lamp.

340
I got to the door at once shouting,"Don’ get in my way!"
The women were in a commotion because they were all in the dark
and they started getting nervous mixed up in that crowd of men.

341
The first to come out was the singer, and he went for me –
but I don't lose my head even after a drink or two --
and some folk where I come from consider I'm pretty smart.

342
He won't have picked a fight again, because his joke cost him dear.
When your friend here has had a drink it sharpens up his wits --
and the poor fool turned out to be soft as pigeon's meat.

343
When it comes to bringing help women aren't slow to act --
they propped him against some barrels before he'd lost much blood –
and I left him there with his guts hanging out to make himself new strings from.

344
I got on my horse, and free as thought I headed for open country,
to live like the clouds in the wind with nowhere to rest my head --
because an outlaw has no nesting-place, nor a house, nor a safe home.

345
There's no fighting against the fate that Heaven has marked out for you.
Even if it's no comfort if hardship's your lot, go through with it –
no one scratches himself the smooth way, and you don't strip hide against the grain.

346
There's no one who won't make speeches against a gaucho who's in trouble:
the least mistake lets him in for a life out there among the ostriches --
Folk who know more about life make mistakes and there's always someone to excuse them.

CRUZ

347
I don't know how many months that life of mine went on.
At times we were so poor we had to eat horse meat --
I'd joined up with some others out of luck like myself.

348
But curse it, what good does it do chattering about these troubles?
A gaucho's born and he grows old and his luck never gets any better,
until one day, out comes death to claim the hide off him.

349
But as there's no misfortune that doesn't end sometime,
so, after all these hardships that's what happened to me --
a friend did me the favour of putting me right with the Judge.

350
I can tell you, in my part of the land there's not a real criollo left:
they've been swallowed by the grave, or run off, or been killed in the war -- *(against Paraguay lasted 1865-9) because in this country, friend, there's no end to the bad times.

351
That's why it was, I take it, the Judge sent for me one day - and told me that he wanted to have me on his side,
so that I could do service as a soldier in the Police.

352
And he launched a long speech at me calling me a hero,
saying I was a decent man -- and from that moment on
he was appointing me Sergeant in command of the troop.

353
That's how I came to be in the force -- but what orders could I give?
Last night when we came to get you I saw a good opportunity...
Anyway, I don't like going around with a sword clanking on my belt.

354
So now you know who I am -- you can put your trust in me.
Cruz gave you his hand as a friend, and he'll not abandon you –
together, we can go seeking one shelter for the two of us.

355
We'll live like outlaws if we have to, to save our lives --
we'll never need to go short of a good horse to get away on,
nor a stretch of high grass to sleep in, nor good meat to put on the spit.

356
And when in time we're left without a single rag to wear,
I'll ask the loan of a skin from any kind of a wolf --*(meaning any animal.)
if I work it soft, I'll make a poncho better than waterproof.

357
Tail meat's the same as breast for me and spine's as good as haunch.
I make my nest wherever I may be and I eat whatever I find --
I'll get down in the dust if need be, and I'll stop off at any gate.

358
And so I let the ball roll on -- one day it has to stop.
A gaucho has to go through with it until he's swallowed by the grave....
Or else till there comes a real criollo to take charge of things in this land.

359
They look at a wretched gaucho as if he was scrag meat.
They treat him like dirt ... But as things go this way
because that's what the ones who rule us want -- we'd best put up with beatings.

360
Pucha! if you were to hear them as I did one time –
a nice little conversation the Judge had with a friend!
I swear to you, when I heard that, it made my heart shrink up.

361
They were talking about getting rich with lands on the frontier,
and moving the frontier further out to where there was unclaimed land,
and taking men from all over the province to go and defend it for them.

362
They turn everything into schemes for railways and settlements,*(1870, when the civil wars subsided, material "progress" in Argentina expanded outwards from the city, encroaching on the estancias and gauchos' traditional life.) and chucking money away in thousands, on hiring gringos – while as for the poor recruit, they strip him bare, the swine.

363
But if things go on in the way they've been going up to now,
it could be that suddenly we'll find the country turned to a desert,
and see nothing but the whitening bones of the people who have died.

364
For a long time now we've borne our fortunes running backwards.
A gaucho works and gets nowhere, because the best that happens is
they whip you out of the place without leaving you time to spit.

365
Folk in the town may talk a lot about the wrongs that we endure,
but they're acting like the teros* (marsh birds, known for courageous) do when they want to hide their nests – they make a noise in one place and they've got the eggs somewhere else.

366
And they pretend it's impossible to get at the root of the trouble,
and meanwhile the authorities treat the gauchos with the harshest laws –
the way they're doing things, the cure gets nowhere near the disease.



Martin Fierro

367
I can see we're both of us chips off the same block.
I'm known as an outlaw and you're in the same situation –
And as for me, to make an end of it all I'm off to the indians.

368
I ask my God to forgive me as he's been so good to me,
but since it has to be that I go and live with heathens,
I'll be cruel where others are cruel -- that's how my fate has willed it.

369
God created the flowers, so pretty and delicate as they are,
he made them perfect in every way as much as he knew how --
but he gave something more to man when he gave him a heart.

370
He gave light its clearness and strength to the wind in its course,
he gave out life and motion from the eagle to the worm --
but he gave more to christian men when he gave them intelligence.

371
And even though he gave the birds -- besides other things I don't know of –
their little golden beaks and feathers smooth as a picture --
he gave a greater treasure to man when he gave him a speaking tongue.

372
And since he gave to the wild beasts their fierce strength, so strong
that no power can overcome them and nothing can frighten them --
what less could he give to man than courage to defend himself?

373
But I suspect that when he gave him so many good things at once,
he was thinking to himself that man was going to need them --
because he balanced the good things with the sorrows he gave him.

374
And it's driven by my sorrows that I want to leave this hell.
I'm no longer a young fledgling, I know how to handle a spear --
and the powers of the Government don't reach to the indians.

375
I know that the chiefs over there will give shelter to christians, and they treat them as "brothers" when they go of their own accord....*(there was contact between the indian tribes and the settlers; some indians were of mixed blood, through captive women, and numbers of deserters, criminals and others went to join them. Before the "extermination", diplomatic negotiations were carried on by the government) Why keep on going through these alarms? Take our ponchos, and let's go.

376
There's dangers in the crossing but this doesn't scare me,
I go rolling across the earth dragged along by my destiny --
and if we lose the way, well.... we won't be the first to lose it.

377
No one can answer for us whether we'll survive or not.
We have to strike straight inland towards where the sun goes down –
one day we'll get there, we'll find out where afterwards.

378
We won't get off our course, we're a good team, the two of us:
a gaucho goes where he aims for, even though he can't tell where he is –
the grass-blades turn their points towards the setting sun.

379
We won't die of hunger, as according to what I've been told,
in the wild lands there are animals, all the kinds you need --
wild does, deer, mulitas* armadillos and ostriches.

380
When you're travelling in the desert you eat everything, even the tails – women have crossed it on their own*(few captive women who managed to escape) and arrived safe the other side -- and an ostrich'll be a real gaucho if it escapes the bolas I throw.

381
I'm not afraid of thirst, either, I can bear it quite cheerfully -- I can find water sniffing the wind, and while I'm still sound of limb
I can dig and reach it right away anywhere there's a white-peach tree.*(durazno - bush)

382
We'll find safety over there since we can't have it here -- we'll have less troubles to bear, and it'll be a happy time
the day we light upon one of the indians' camps.


383
We'll fashion ourselves a tent out of a few horse-hides,
as so many others do -- it'll be our kitchen and living-room --
maybe there'll even be an indian girl who'll come and take pity on us!

384
Over there, there's no need to work, you live like a lord --
going on a raid from time to time, and if you get out from that alive
you live lying belly-up watching, the sun go round.

385
And now that Fate has beaten us and left us high and dry,
maybe we'll see light, over there, and our sorrows come to an end.
Any land will do for us -- let's be going, Cruz my friend.

386
If you can handle the bolas and know how to throw a lasso,
and sit an unbroken colt (young male horse) with no fear he'll get you off --
even among savages you won't have too bad a time.

387
A criollo can make love by singing, as he does war --*(as they rode into battle, gauchos sang morale-raising songs; vidalitas, zambas). besides, we might pick up something for ourselves, in one of the raids.... Anyhow, friend, I've had enough of this life of wandering.

*388***
At this point, the singer reached for a bottle to comfort him.
He took a drink deep as the sky and brought his story to an end –
and with one blow, smashed his guitar into splinters on the floor.

389
"I've broken it" he said, "and I'll not tune it again.
No one else will play on it -- you can be sure of that: no one else is going to sing once this gaucho here has sung."


390
And I'll finish off my poem by taking up the story.
There'll always be someone who's curious and inquisitive, like a woman –
and maybe he'd like to know what happened in the end.

391
Cruz and Fierro rounded up a string of horses from a ranch:
they drove them in front of them as wise criollos know how,
and soon, without being spotted, they crossed over the frontier.

392
And after they had passed it, one clear early morning,
Cruz told him to look back at the last of the settlements –
and two big tears went rolling down Martin Fierro's face.

393
And following their true course they entered into the desert....
I don't know whether they were killed in one of the indian raids –
but I hope, some day, I'll hear certain news of them.

394
And now, with this report, I've come to the end of my story.
All the sad things you've heard about I've told because they are true –
every gaucho that you see is woven thick with misfortunes.

395
But he has to fix his hope in the God who created him....
And with that I'll take my leave -- I've related as I know how
evils that everyone knows about, but no one told before now.

Tango-E-Vita, multilingual Belgian website which focuses on the many different dimensions of performing and experiencing Argentine Tango Dance as a living, ongoing event. Online multimedia such as instructional video-clips on guiding technique and views of shows. Articles in English, Dutch and other languages, with information and thoughts on the manner and quality of couple dancing and, regarding the mind-body relation and the act of exploring non-verbal communication, the powerful contemporary value of it. A special attention for multiple perspectives on gender, social class differences and mentality changes in the history of Tango Argentino.