Portuguese Language Blog

Lyrics Translation: The Girl From Ipanema Posted by on Mar 23, 2010 in Learning, Music

One of the most internationally famous bossa nova songs of all time, The Girl from Ipanema is a classic with easy to follow lyrics. It’s useful to see a side by side translation, especially since the song is also sung in English (the most famous recording by Frank Sinatra), but with slightly different lyrics. Here, we have the literal translation of the original Portuguese lyrics sung by Tom Jobim, along with a video with subtitles.

A Garota de Ipanema / The Girl from Ipanema

Olha, que coisa mais linda,
Mais cheia de graça,
É ela, menina, que vem e que passa,
Num doce balanço, a caminho do mar.

Moça do corpo dourado,
Do sol de Ipanema,
O seu balançado
É mais que um poema
É a coisa mais linda
Que eu já vi passar

Ah, por que estou tão sozinho?
Ah, por que tudo é tão triste?
Ah, a beleza que existe
A beleza que não é só minha,
Que também passa sozinha.

Ah, se ela soubesse
Que quando ela passa,
O mundo sorrindo
Se enche de graça
E fica mais lindo
Por causa do amor.

Look, such a sight, so beautiful,
So filled with grace,
It;s her, this girl who comes and who passes,
With a sweet swing, on her way to the sea.

Girl with body of gold
From the sun of Ipamena,
Her swing
Is more than a poem,
Is a sight more beautiful
Than I have ever seen pass by.

Ah, why am I so alone?
Why is there so much sadness?
This beauty that exists,
This beauty that is not only mine,
That also passes by alone.

Ah, if she but knew,
That when she passes by,
The world smiles,
Is filled with grace,
And becomes more beautiful,
Because of love.

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  1. Knud Sandbæk Nielsen:

    Thank you for this translation.

    I love this music, and I’m learning to sing the songs in the original language, because I don’t like the “translations” available.

    Your work has been very helpful, and without it, I’m sure many people like me would miss an opportunity to enrich their love for the unique and exuisite music of Brazil.

    Again, thanks!

  2. Paulina:

    Thank you very much for this beautiful lyrics. I am in love with Brazil. I am going to learn how to sing this beautiful song in Portuguese. I will sing it infront of my class next Friday.

  3. Larry:

    This music is the essence of our honeymoon in 1968 in Longboat Key, Fla near Sarasota. Every few years we go back and stay in the very same motel apt, now a condo, play this music, our “beach music” plus other special songs and soft styles and relive that honeymoon! It is in our souls, the beach, the surf, the sand and the music: the beginning of our 44 years of committed marriage. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the lyrics and translation. I am in tears as I listened and write this.

  4. Carioca:


  5. Cristina:

    Olá Nielsen

    Adorei a tradução, procurava a tempos, uma versão em Português para passar aos meus alunos que estudam Português como segundo idioma. Obrigada… Cristina

  6. Hanike:

    This is not a literal translation and it’s very-very adapted to not say wrong.
    Oh, and you should tag it as Vinicius de Moraes, since he’s the real lyricist of this version (there was a first version that was different, composed by him and Tom Jobim).

  7. Mike:

    I am only a beginning Portuguese student, but one of my first lessons was to translate and comment on the song. Although sung beautifully by Sinatra, et. al., I believe the recorded English version (it’s not even close to being a translation) is very superficial and misses entirely the deeper meaning of the original song in Portuguese.

    The song is about much more than a guy sitting at a sidewalk bar and longing for a particular girl that walks by. It is rich with symbolism. As the girl passes by swinging, so does the sea with the tide, so does beauty and youth with time.

    No one ownes beauty; no one has it for very long. The transient nature of beauty is also a cause of the sadness, but in the end there is love, which is beautiful, and it makes it all worthwhile. This what I got out of the Portuguese version of the song anyway.

    (BTW, Rachel please come back. I only found this blog today.)

  8. Marc:

    My 20 year-old son just spent the last hour trying to convince me that this song (the English lyrics, anyway) painted a picture of a man his age who was too busy feeling sorry for himself to simply go and talk to the girl. He has a point, but that was not the point of the song (which is easier to appreciate in the original Portuguese lyrics). The poet paints a picture of a woman whose beauty is the embodiment of love but — alas — is too beautiful to touch. The poet is talking about the beauty of unrequited love (“longing is the sweetest part of loving”). Sure, “unrequited” is not a practical way to get along in life, but for that matter, one can’t feed oneself on rose petals. It would be sad if the contemporary vision of love becomes so fixed on the destination that the lover doesn’t know how he got there.

  9. Bobby King:

    I can’t believe how we changed the meaning of the song with our translation. The beauty of the Portuguese lyrics are so much better. We butchered it with our translation.
    I’m a conductor, and I’d love for my orchestra to play the original song, but I’m having a lot of trouble deciphering the meter of the lyrics. Can you, or anyone, please capitalize the lyrics that have the same emphasis as the English version.

  10. nala:

    What does vem meninas e meninos dalada mean?

  11. Joe:

    Thank you so much for this literal translation. The English version was serviceable, but the Portuguese lyrics have so much more depth. As I get older I appreciate beauty and am painfully aware at how ephemeral it can be.

  12. Alfred Jean Claude:

    I thought astrud was singing an actual translation of the Portuguese, but this has almost nothing to do
    There is no such thing as ‘tall and tan and lovely, looks straight ahead not at him”

  13. Alberto Rodrigo Joaquin Serrano Lazo:

    Exotic! Exquisite! Envigorating! My kind of Music! Samba Bossa nova, the way to go!

  14. Roberto:

    Don’t be silly. The most famous version is, of course Astrud Gilberto’s bi-lingual recording, on the 1964 hit single that catapulted Bossa Nova into the pubic eye. Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, Astrud’s husband Joao on guitar, and Jobim himself on piano are the back-up band–if you can call such a collection of luminaries back-up. Frank Sinatra? Are you serious?

  15. lula:

    Hi Hanike it is interesting to read that you say the above translation is not correct. Do you have access to Vinicius de Moraes original version and could have it transalated into English for the benefit of us English speakers? Many thanks Lula

  16. Simone:

    Can anyone share the phonetic version in English of this song? Thanks.