Não quero mais amar a ninguém

Lyrics from “Não quero mais amar a ninguém” by Carlos Cachaça, Cartola and Zé da Zilda (Zé com fome), 1936

I no longer wish to love anyone
I wasn’t happy, fate didn’t will
My first love
It died like the flower, yet a bud
Leaving thorns that tore up my heart
A seed of love, I know that’s what I’ve been since birth
But without life and radiance, that’s my lot
I tried for the first time to make a dream reverberate
‘Twas a kiss that was born and died, without ever being given
Sometimes I burst out laughing upon remembering the past
I never thought of love, I never loved nor was I loved
If you judge that I’m lying, I can swear by it
It was a mere dream that came and went, and nothing more

— Interpretation —

Carlos Cachaça, right, with Cartola and Nelson Cavaquinho.
Carlos Cachaça, right, with Cartola, center, and Nelson Cavaquinho.

The 1978 documentary “Os avós do samba” identifies Carlos Cachaça as the foremost symbol of the history of samba, or as he called himself, the “archive and library of Mangueira,” the historic hillside neighborhood and the samba school he helped to found in 1929. The documentary then turns to his wife, Menininha (at minute 04:35), to ask her her favorite song by her husband; she begins to sing, “Não quero mais amar a ninguém.” That’s her favorite, she states; a second favorite, she couldn’t pick:

Carlos Cachaça being honored by Rio's most celebrated sambistas at his 96th birthday party. Photo via Almanaque do Samba.
Carlos Cachaça being honored by Rio’s most celebrated sambistas at his 96th birthday party. Photo via Almanaque do Samba.

Carlos Moreira de Castro got his nickname at age 17 to differentiate him from another Carlos on the Mangueira hillside who was  less fond of the sugar-cane liquor. In the documentary above, Menininha relates that her husband, then 76, long ago stopped drinking cachaça. (Maybe that’s how he lived to be 97.) But in spite of his healthier habits, she remarks, he “still doesn’t make it home some nights.”

So where does he sleep? “Aí é que a cobra fuma – não sei!,” she responds. (Literally, “that’s when the snake smokes — I don’t know.” The phrase is similar to the Portuguese, “Aí é que o bicho pega,” roughly and dryly translatable in English as, “Now there you’ve got me!”)  

The line from this song, “Semente de amor eu sei que sou desde nascença,” translated here as “A seed of love, I know that’s what I’ve been since birth,” was celebrated and archived by the Brazilian Academy of Letters.  

A prolific poet and lyricist throughout his life, Carlos Cachaça’s first and only solo album was recorded in 1976, when he was 74 years old.  He worked for the railway to make a living, and was relatively unknown during the Golden Age of radio in Brazil, from around 1932 to the mid 1950s. The exception was Aracy de Almeida‘s 1936 recording of this song:

For more on the friendship and partnership between Carlos Cachaça and Cartola, see Acontece and Alvorada.

Paulinho da Viola sings “Não quero mais amar a ninguem”:

Lyrics in Portuguese

Não quero mais amar a ninguém
Não fui feliz, o destino não quis
O meu primeiro amor
Morreu como a flor, ainda em botão,
Deixando espinhos que dilaceram meu coração.

Semente de amor sei que sou desde nascença,
Mas sem ter a vida e fulgor, heis minha sentença,
Tentei pela primeira vez um sonho vibrar,
Foi beijo que nasceu e morreu, sem se chegar a dar,.
(bisa a primeira parte)
Às vezes dou gargalhada ao lembrar do passado,
Nunca pensei em amor, nunca amei nem fui amado,
Se julgas que estou mentindo, jurar sou capaz,
Foi simples sonho que passou e nada mais

Main sources for this post: documentary Os avos do samba (1978) and O Almanaque do Samba by André Diniz

3 thoughts on “Não quero mais amar a ninguém”

  1. Dear Victoria

    I just noticed I didn’t get a notification that “Rosa Maria” had been added to BLiE; I hope I’m still on your email list.

    But, in the meantime, I am very troubled over the song “Argila,” by Carlinhos Brown. It is a beautiful song, but not an easy song to understand – and I don’t understand it. It is certainly a song I would like to see translated and commented on by you. I have the feeling it will be on my mind for a long time to come, so some help understanding it would be a real benefit.

    Hoping you can get around to it,


    1. Hi Brian, I’m not sure – did you get an email about the more recent post about Candeia? If not, try subscribing again. I’m going to try to work on Argila – please remind me, since I have a long list right now of songs I want to do… Thanks for reading!

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