Romaria

Lyrics from “Romaria” (1977)
Sung by Elis Regina
Composed by Renato Teixeira

It’s of dream and dust
The destiny of one alone
Like me lost
In thought
On my horse

It’s of lasso and knot
Of holster and jiló  
Of this life carried out alone

I’m caipira, Pirapora
Our Lady of Aparecida
Illuminate the dark mine and guide
The train of my life (2x)

My father was a peon
My mother, loneliness
My brothers lost themselves in life – the price of adventures
I unmarried, I played
I invested, I gave up
If there’s luck, I don’t know
I never saw it

I’m caipira, Pirapora
Our Lady of Aparecida
Illuminate the dark mine and guide
The train of my life (2x)

They told me, nonetheless
That I should come here
To request, through pilgrimage and prayer
Peace in hardships (desaventos)

Since I don’t know how to pray
I just wanted to show
My gaze, my gaze, my gaze
I’m caipira, Pirapora
Our Lady of Aparecida
Illuminate the dark mine and guide
The train of my life (2x)

— Interpretation —

A caipira in Brazil is someone from the country, most commonly in the states of São Paulo, Paraná, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro (other regions use different words, e.g. matuto in the Northeast).   This song speaks of the rough and solitary life of a caipira. Its forlorn, fatalistic tone is typical of caipira music, as is the theme of the loneliness and hardships of life on the range or in the mine.

“Pirapora” – which comes from the words for “fish” and “jump” in the indigenous Tupi language – likely refers to Pirapora do Bom Jesús, in São Paulo state, which is known as the “City of Miracles” and receives thousands of religious pilgrims every year.  Our Lady of Aparecida is the patroness (or patron saint) of Brazil. The composer, Renato Teixeira, wrote the song after observing pilgrims on their way to the basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Aparecida do Norte.

Jiló is a fruit — solanum gilo, known as “scarlet eggplant” in English, though I’ve never come across the fruit in the United States. I’ve translated “desaventos,” a caipira word, as hardships, but  it most literally translates to an enemy or event that has caused a disturbance or problem. Finally, I’ve translated gibeira (a corruption of the portuguese word algibeira) as holster because it is a small leather sack for carrying an object that needs particular care; however, the word in Portuguese does not have the same automatic association with a firearm as the word “holster” in English — the jiló, for instance, may be in the holster.

Elis Regina recorded the song in 1977 and it became an instant national sensation, even helping to reduce stereotypes and reclaim the word “caipira” as something to be proud of.  Elis Regina was renowned for her ability to draw such deep emotional reactions from the Brazilian public with her singing. She was one of the most beloved voices of Brazil’s MPB movement before dying at in 1982, at 36, from a drug overdose.

Post by Victoria Broadus (About)

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