Bossa Nova Daydreams


New English version of “Moça flor”
Photo by Sebastian Anthony. CC: Some rights reserved.

Photo by Sebastian Anthony. CC: Some rights reserved.

I’ve been home sick with a cold–not pretty. So instead of being bored and miserable, I decided to bring a little beauty into my world by translating one of my favorite bossa nova standards.

“Moça flor”, by Durval Ferreira and Lula Freire, is a bittersweet song that uses a flower metaphor to express the poetic quality of a girl’s first experience of love.

It’s has a gentle, beautiful melody and lush chromatic harmony.  My personal favorite recording of the song is by Tamba 4, on their album “We and the Sea”.

Little Flower
(Moça flor)

Little flower, sweetest flower of them all.

Little flower, you’re the color of love
and your look, though it shines, gives off an air of sadness
brought out by the tear welling up in your eye.

Little flower, that pure tear in your eye
is the dew of a flower that cries
and feels pain.

Give it time, little flower, you’ll cry, little flower, that’s love.

— English version by Matthew Marth,
based on the original Portuguese version,
entitled “Moça flor” by Durval Ferreira and Lula Freire

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2 Comments so far
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Thank you, saci. I decided to use “little flower” instead of “girl flower”—the more literal translation of “moça flor”—mainly for rhythmic reasons. Even though this one is fairly short, it was nevertheless quite a challenge to make the second and third stanzas work. I would like to have more rhymes (like there are in the original) but sometimes you just have to let some things go in favor of the meaning and rhythm. Obrigado!

Comment by Matthew

Another lovely translation! I especially like the first line and the way you finessed the construction of the second part.
I haven’t really known the last three songs you’ve posted, although I’d heard “Samba da Pergunta”. Thanks for drawing my attention to them.

Comment by saci




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