Compare Leonard Cohen’s “Take This Waltz” To A Conventional English Translation Of Federico García Lorca’s “Pequeno Vals Vienés”

Lorca’s Pequeno Vals Vienés: Small Viennese Waltz By Pablo Medina & Mark Statman And Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz

Dominique BOILE alerts us to an English translation of Lorca’s Pequeno Vals Vienés by Pablo Medina and Mark Statman. The source is Poet in New York: A Bilingual Edition by Federico Garcia Lorca (author), Pablo Medina (translator), Mark Statman (translator). Grove Press: 2007. I have altered the original organization of the book, placing the lines of the poem in Lorca’s original Spanish side by side with the same lines translated into English. The lyrics to Cohen’s Take This Waltz are included at the end of this post.

Lyrics: Take This Waltz by Leonard Cohen
From the I’m Your Man album (1988)

Now in Vienna there’s ten pretty women
There’s a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There’s a lobby with nine hundred windows
There’s a tree where the doves go to die
There’s a piece that was torn from the morning
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws

Oh I want you, I want you, I want you
On a chair with a dead magazine
In the cave at the tip of the lily
In some hallways where love’s never been
On a bed where the moon has been sweating
In a cry filled with footsteps and sand
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take its broken waist in your hand

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
With its very own breath of brandy and Death
Dragging its tail in the sea

There’s a concert hall in Vienna
Where your mouth had a thousand reviews
There’s a bar where the boys have stopped talking
They’ve been sentenced to death by the blues
Ah, but who is it climbs to your picture
With a garland of freshly cut tears?
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz it’s been dying for years

There’s an attic where children are playing
Where I’ve got to lie down with you soon
In a dream of Hungarian lanterns
In the mist of some sweet afternoon
And I’ll see what you’ve chained to your sorrow
All your sheep and your lilies of snow
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
With its “I’ll never forget you, you know!”

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz …

And I’ll dance with you in Vienna
I’ll be wearing a river’s disguise
The hyacinth wild on my shoulder,
My mouth on the dew of your thighs
And I’ll bury my soul in a scrapbook,
With the photographs there, and the moss
And I’ll yield to the flood of your beauty
My cheap violin and my cross
And you’ll carry me down on your dancing
To the pools that you lift on your wrist
Oh my love, Oh my love
Take this waltz, take this waltz
It’s yours now. It’s all that there is


Leonard Cohen – Take This Waltz
Verona: Sept 24, 2012
Video by


Cohencentric published several posts about Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz being based on his translation of Pequeño Vals Vienès by Federico García Lorca:

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted July 26, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

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