Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Have you had your Ipanema moment?

The Girl from Ipanema

When the Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes was in a café in Rio de Janeiro one day in the 1960’s he was completely bowled over when he spotted the most beautiful young girl in the world going to the beach. Vinicius, it has to be said, had an eye for the ladies, as he was married eight times, so he knew a beautiful girl when he saw one.
 Ipanema is one of the poshest parts of Rio de Janeiro, and the beach itself is a spectacular beach, flanked as it is by the Dois Irmaos (Two Brothers) mountains on its western side. The girl Vinicius saw was going to the beach and would take the same route every day from her house.

Moraes was so inspired by seeing this girl that he wrote the poem Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema), which was put to music by Tom Jobin. It became a worldwide hit, and was also given English lyrics by Norman Gimbel.

Gimbel chose not to translate Vinicius de Moraes’ original Portuguese into English, calculating correctly that he could never capture in English the magic of the original Portuguese. What Gimbel did, however, was equally stupendous, he captured the mood and ambiance of the original setting, and placed it in his own masterful words in English. It is difficult to think of another example of two languages creating two absolutely beautiful poems and songs from one original setting.  

Lest we forget, here are the lyrics to the songs in both English and Portuguese.

 The Girl from Ipanema/ Garota de Ipanema*

By Vinicius DeMorais / Tom Jobim

 Olha que coisa mais linda
Mais cheia de graça
É ela menina
Que vem e que passa
Num doce balanço
Caminho do mar
Moça do corpo dourado
Do sol de Ipanema
O seu balançado
É mais que um poema
É a coisa mais linda
Que eu já vi passar
Ah! porque estou tão sozinho

Look at the most beautiful thing
More full of loveliness
It is her, the girl
Who comes and who passes by
In a sweet balance
On her way to the sea.
The girl with the golden body
From the Ipanema sun
In her swinging walk
Which is more than a poem
It’s the most beautiful thing
That I’ve ever seen pass by.
Ah! Why am I so lonely?

Ah! porque tudo é tão triste
Ah! a beleza que existe
A beleza que não é só minha
Que também passa sozinha
Ah! Se ela soubesse
Que quando ela passa
O mundo inteirinho
Se enche de graça
E fica mais lindo
Por causa do amor

Ah ! Why is everything so sad?
Ah! The beauty that exists
The beauty that is not only mine
Who also passes by alone.
Ah! If she only knew
That when she passes by
The whole world
Fills with loveliness
And stays more beautiful
Because of the love.


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(Vinicius DeMoraes / Norman Gimbel / Tom Jobim)

Tall and tanned and young and lovely
   The girl from Ipanema goes walking
   And when she passes
   Each one she passes
   Goes Aaah!
When she moves it's like a samba
   That swings so cool and sways so gently
   That when she passes
   Each one she passes
   Goes Aaah!

Oh!But I  watch her so sadly
   How can I tell her I love her?
   I would just give my heart gladly
   But each day when she walks to the sea
   She looks straight ahead not at me.

Tall and tanned and young and lovely
   The girl from Ipanema goes walking
   And when she passes
   I  smile
   But she doesn't see
   No, she doesn't see
   She just doesn't see...

Have you ever had an Ipanema moment? It’s that moment when you see somebody young and beautiful who completely bowls you over. You see them wherever you may be. However, although you see them, they may not even have noticed you. But, you are completely lovestruck! You cannot stop staring at them. You are trying to get a grip, but feel self conscious and even stupid.  You start fidgeting. You carry on doing what you were doing, it is proving difficult.

In London, it most likely you have your Ipanema moment on the tube. This is an embarrassing place to have it. It feels like everybody else is watching. If you were reading the newspaper, the words become blurred, the palms sweaty. It is proving difficult to concentrate. It suddenly becomes very hot in there.

You also have to struggle with your reactions. Do you just go up to her (or him) and tell them you love them? I don’t think so! She might think you are a stalker or a lunatic, or both! So what on earth do you do? I have no answer to this conundrum.

You also have to remember that all of this is happening within a question of seconds or minutes. She (or he) is going somewhere, and will get off the tube, or go to her destination. You may never see her ever again.
As in the original poem by Vinicius de Moraes and that by Norman Gimbel, the most likely outcome for your Ipanema moment is that it will pass by without a word and without any reaction on your part. But, just like the original Ipanema moment, you will not forget it for the rest of your life, and it may just inspire you to do something fantastic with your life!

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*Please note that all translations may not convey the exact meaning nor the beauty of the words in the original language, and there may be some unintentional errors in translation.
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