Sarah Brightman - Alhambra

Duermen tus recuerdos
de ébano y perfume
en tus aposentos,
llenos de ternura,
mi querida Alhambra.

Viste mil amores
nacer en tus entrañas,
luces que acarician
desde tus ventanas,
despechada Alhambra.

Brillan tus ensueños
en un mar de estrellas
y la luna canta
tu silencio, Alhambra.

Lágrimas de yedra
lloran los vencidos,
Entre espada y rosa
crecen tus olivos,
mi querida Alhambra.

Guardo en mi recuerdo
tu sabor a luna,
brillas sobre el pueblo
como el sol, Alhambra.

Sueño con Alhambra,
mi querida Alhambra.

Music: Tarréga, adapted by Peterson
Lyrics: Donath Karl Pirs

From: Classics (2001).

Source of the lyrics: many thanks Donath Pirs, who sent me the lyrics as written for Sarah.
[Thanks also to Shauna Howard, who sent a tentative version earlier.]
Christian Bernard writes that in the first line of the fourth stanza "hiedra" is the right spelling, not "yedra". But "yedra" is what I recieved from the author and my dictionary gives both words as translation of the English "ivy" ("klimop" in Dutch).

Furthermore on this page:
 >  translation of the lyrics into English
 >  some notes about the title


Translation into English

The following translation into English is what I have come up with, basing myself on a translation sent also by Shauna Howard and a small dictionary, and with some help of Donath Pirs. A few remarks follow below the translation.

Your memories of ebony
and perfume are sleeping
in your rooms,
full of tenderness,
my beloved Alhambra.

You saw a thousand loves
be born within you,
lights which caress
from your windows,
despaired Alhambra.

Your dreams shine
in a sea of stars
and the moon sings
your silence, Alhambra.

Tears of ivy
weep for the vanquished,
between sword and rose
your olives grow,
my beloved Alhambra.

I keep in my memory
your savour of moon,
shining over the village
like the sun, Alhambra.

I dream of Alhambra,
my beloved Alhambra.

Three remarks on the translation:
   =   The third line of the second stanza has "acarician", which means "stroke, caress, fondle, cherish" -- strange words to describe how light shines through a window. Used here is "caress", describing "softly flowing" or so.
   =   The second line of the fifth stanza has "sabor", meaning "taste", so: "you taste of moon". This makes not much sense in the text, but it has the effect the author wanted to achieve: in Spanish it it surprising and sensual. At first glance I would choose here "you are like the moon" or so, but in the translation I want to be faithful to the meaning of the song.
And my dictionary gives as one of the usages of "taste": to have a particular taste, with as example: "this soup tastes of chicken", so "you taste of moon" is correct English. An alternative is to use the English "savour" in the meaning of "to have a quality of; suggest" (dictionary example: "They were suspicious of any law that savoured for more government control"). And so "taste the fear in the room" can also be "the room had a savor of fear". Since the Spanish is "sabor", using "savour" seems right, and gives a somewhat more mysterious and sensual meaning than "taste". [Thanks to Bama Salto for this suggestion.]
Giovaldy Alvarado Espinosa "tu" means "your" (not "you"). So we get "your savour of moon", which -- in Giovaldy's words -- means that the person is feeling the moon or, in better words, experiencing how beautiful (and even sexy) the moon looks while being at Alhambra.
   =   Giovaldy also corrected the first line of the fifth stanza, saying that "I keep in my memory" sounds better than the "Saved in my memory" I had first.


About the title

My encyclopedia says that "Alhambra" comes from the arabic "Kelet al Hamrah", meaning "the red castle". It is named after the red bricks of which it is made: the Alhambra is the former pleasure-castle of the Moorish Nasriden royalty of Granada (1231-1491). It is a grand monument of Arabic architecture en is situated in a lovely region on the top of a completely overgrown mountain, near Granada, from which it is separated by the valley of the river Darro.

In the age of the Moors this castle had a magnificent household and guards of 10,000 men and in the last battle against the Christians it was defended by 40,000 Muslims. After the Moors were driven from Spain (1492) the castle was the home of the Castilian royalty for some time. King Charles V destroyed part of the castle and wanted to replace it by a palace, which has remained unfinished. The last royalty living n Alhambra were King Filipa V and his wife, at the beginning of the 19th century. In the second half of that century the castles abandond rooms became uninhabitable and some time later parts of it fell to ruins. Intact are still the living quarters and representative rooms grouped around two courtyards.

The sense of the lyrics, Donath Pirs writes, to show the beauty of the Alhambra in the time when the Moors lived there, and also the pain they felt when they lost the castle in the war against the Christians. And I think he has succeeded in that: the atmosphere created by the lyrics is mysterious and grand.

For more info on and photos of the Alhambra, see for example:
All these pictures make me want to visit the Alhambra ....

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created: 29 November 2001
last modified: 18 April 2013