Roda Viva
Live Turning Wheel
Escritor/Cantor: Chico Buarque
Writer/Singer: Chico Buarque
Português
English
Tem dias que a gente se sente como quem partiu ou morreu
There are days that we feel like someone departed or dead.
A gente estancou de repente, ou foi o mundo então que cresceu?
We suddenly stopped, or was it the world at the time had grown?
A gente quer ter voz ativa, no nosso destino mandar
We want to have an active voice in steering our destiny
Mas eis que chega a roda viva e carrega o destino prá
But, there came a turning circle and it carried destiny away.
Roda mundo, roda gigante, roda moinho, roda peão 
World wheel, gigantic circle, turning mill, turning pinion. 
O tempo rodou num instante nas voltas do meu coração
The time turned in the instance, it returned to my heart
A gente vai contra a corrente até não poder resistir
We are going to struggle against the current, until we can’t resist
Na volta do barco é que sente o quanto deixou de cumprir
In the ship’s return is the feeling of how much remains to do.
Faz tempo que a gente cultiva a mais linda roseira que há
It’s been awhile since we made the most beautiful rosary
Mas eis que chega a roda viva e carrega a roseira prá
But, there came a turning circle and it carried the rosary over there
A roda da saia, a mulata, não quer mais rodar, não senhor
The skirt wheel, the mulatto, doesn’t want to roll no sir
Não posso fazer serenata, a roda de samba acabou
I can’t make a serenade, the samba gathering ended
A gente toma a iniciativa, viola na rua a cantar
We feel the initiative with a guitar and song in the street
Mas eis que chega a roda viva e carrega a viola prá
But, there came a turning circle and it carried the guitar over there
O samba, a viola, a roseira, um dia a fogueira queimou
The samba, the guitar, the rosary, the day of intense burning fire
Foi tudo ilusão passageira que a brisa primeira levou
Was it all a passing illusion that the breeze first brought
No peito a saudade cativa, faz força pro tempo parar
In my longing chest, there's the force that stopped time
Mas eis que chega a roda viva e carrega a saudade prá
But, there came a turning circle and it carried the nostalgia over there
In my opinion, this allegorical ballad,
which is sung with a harmonious 
chorus behind Buarque, 
is a reference to the harsh
military government’s repression of 
Brazilians after the 
military take over in the mid 1960’s.

This song is not easy to render in English, and I feel this attempt is imperfect.

English-speaking readers might notice that the translation seems awkward.
Yet, I felt it what it says is so politically charged, I had to try.--Robleh Wais

 

1