Miguel Unamuno

A Tango by Manuel Ugarte

anuel Ugarte (1878 - 1951), writer and polemicist, was –it has been said- the Argentine of his time who did most for the politic unification of the Spanish American continent. His preaching (nationalist anti-imperialism and Hispanicism with socialist touches] was spread in the continental and European journalism. He had started his public life alongside Lugones, Payró, Gerchunoff, Galvez and Ingenieros. He founded La Revista Literaria, where, among others, Rubén Darío and Ricardo Jaimes Freyre wrote.

During his journeys he interchanged ideas and intellectual actions with important men in the political and cultural fields, attested in a profuse correspondence of marked historical interest kept in the Archivo General de la Nación. Out of that repository -in great part, unpublished-, we rescue the letter we transcribe:

Guayaquil, 16 may 1930.
Manuel Ugarte.

I consider as a very high honor for me to address you because of an unavoidable duty of correctness and honesty, whose fulfillment I cannot elude. But at the same time I allow myself to apologize for bothering you with the reading of the present, and, persuaded of your generous nobleness, I hope that so you will do.

I am a pilgrim of Art and in my pilgrimages towards the Ideal I have always tried to imprison my deep spiritual uneasiness within the notes in the music staff. In time, due to 1928 carnival, "El Telégrafo", newspaper of this city, published, your extremely beautiful poem "Recuerdo de Carnaval" and I, on reading it, felt an intimate shivering of my spirit, sat at the piano and nervously improvised the music I have the pleasure to send so that the eminent poet knows it and honors me with his opinion.

I very well know that I have made a real irreverence, because I haved used the name of your beautiful poem. Recuerdo de Carnaval, my latest tango, has lyrics by Manuel Ugarte, the Emperor of Verse in this Free and Sovereign America ... Because of that I humbly apologize for the fault I incurred into and at the same time I beg your kindness that, if it were possible and you consider me deserving the honor I ask for, to please send me some poems suitable for music.


(signs) Francisco Paredes H. [sic]

The musical composition by the Ecuadorian author (copy of the original is enclosed), bears the following handwritten dedication: "To Manuel Ugarte, with great admiration from/ the author/ Guayaquil (Ecuador) May 1930". The cover, handwritten too, expresses: "Recuerdo de Carnaval Tango/ Lyrics by/ Manuel Ugarte/ Music by/ Francisco Paredes H. (and a seal: Registered according to Ecuador laws/ File Nº 331)".

The verses by Manuel Ugarte, which romantically drew near the ideologic man to the Buenos Aires melody, transcribed from the sheet music say:

¿No te acuerdas, Colombina,
que en un baile de disfraz,
para estar más peregrina,
te quitaste el antifaz
y tu dulce boca extraña
que en silencio yo besé,
me dio gotas de champaña
que bebiste en el bufet?

Son los rápidos amores
como el que hubo entre tu y yo,
serpentinas de colores
que desgarran los Pierrots,
pero guardo en la memoria,
toda losa y todo gris,
el recuerdo de esa historia
que es esencia de París.

Yo di fuego a tus carmines
recostado en el diván,
entre griegos y arlequines
que bailaban el can-can;
y olvidando, por ser buena,
tus temores y tu fe,
aceptaste con la cena
mi cariño y mi cupé.

¿Qué me importa que hoy agraves
tus desdenes ante mí,
si te dije lo que sabes
y tu sabes lo que oí?
Por tu honor, que así lo pide,
tengo trazas de olvidar,
más no temas que te olvide
ni te obligue a recordar.

Note from the author:
Who was Manuel Ugarte

Polygraph and Argentine writer. Born in San José de Flores in 1878 and died in Nice, France in 1951. A vigorous orator, at the beginning of the century he began an anti- imperialist campaign which took him to visit all the countries of Latin America warning about the aggressive nature of United States imperialism. He achieved a vast prestige all over the continent and became a referent for most of the intellectuals in the continent.

Rubén Darío, Miguel de Unamuno, Delmira Agustina, R. Blanco Fombona, Henri Barbuse, Manuel Gálvez, Haya de la Torre, José Vasconscelos, Blanca Luz Brum, etc. can be numbered among his friends and correspondents. Leader of the Socialist Party, he represented it in various congresses of the second International Socialist organization at the beginning of the century. When he left socialism,he was an fervent neutralist during World War I.

On those days he directed the newspaper "La Patria" in Buenos Aires, he came back to Europe where he lived for long years.

His books: "El porvenir de América Latina", "Vendimias juveniles", "El destino de un continente", "Cuentos de la Pampa", "El dolor de escribir", "El dramático destino de una generación", "El naufragio de los Argonautas", etc.

In 1946 General Juan Perón s government appointed him ambassador to Mexico and subsequently to Cuba.

Miguel Unamuno
Regular Academy Member
Buenos Aires, 3 september 1999.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I want to give evidence of that the Emeritus Academician Jorge A. Bossio working on the existing material in Ugarte s file, also found the tango which originated the present communication.