It was cold this morning, and a thick layer of frost clung to the car, the road, the trees. Traffic moved slowly, wary of ice.

Climbing the hill next to the mill in Oregon City, I could see billowing frothy clouds of steam from the falls. Entropy. The mist roiled outward, fog-like, making the road slightly more slippery.

Down the hill, past Canemah, I saw the full moon, bright white and glowing, hanging like a low fruit in the cerulean sky. Its light fell silver and shimmering on the smooth surface of the river, forming a road of white from the far bank to this. I was mesmerized. I could not look away. My attention ought to have been focused on the iced road in front of me, but instead I was drawn to the light on the water.

Later in the morning I found a fabulous song: Aguas de Marco by Antonio Carlos Jobim. (Jobim, a Brazilian composer and poet, produced such gems as “The Girl From Ipanema”, “How Insensitive”, and “Desafinado”. He also wrote the English lyrics for many of his songs, including this one.) The song stuck in my head, the melody repeating again and again. I googled the lyrics.

The Waters of March
(aka Aguas de Marco)
by Antonio Carlos Jobim

A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the road,
It’s the rest of the stump, it’s a little alone,
It’s a sliver of glass, it is life, it’s the sun,
It is night, it is death, it’s a trap, it’s a gun.
The oak when it blooms, a fox in the brush,
The knot in the wood, the song of the thrush.
The wood of the wind, a cliff, a fall,
A scratch, a lump, it is nothing at all.
It’s the wind blowing free, it’s the end of a slope,
It’s a beam, it’s a void, it’s a hunch, it’s a hope.

And the riverbank talks of the water of march.

It’s the end of the strain, it’s the joy in your heart,
The foot, the ground, the flesh, the bone,
The beat of the road, a slingshot stone.
A fish, a flash, a silvery glow,
A fight, a bet, the range of the bow.
The bed of the well, the end of the line,
The dismay in the face, it’s a loss, it’s a find.
A spear, a spike, a point, a nail,
A drip, a drop, the end of the tale.
A truckload of bricks in the soft morning light,
The shot of a gun, in the dead of the night.
A mile, a must, a thrust, a bump.
It’s a girl, it’s a rhyme, it’s the cold, it’s the mumps,
The plan of the house, the body in bed,
The car that got stuck, it’s the mud, it’s the mud.
A float, a drift, a flight, a wing,
A hawk, a quail, the promise of spring.

And the riverbanks talks of the waters of march.

It’s the promise of life, it’s the joy in your heart,
A snake, a stick, it is John, it is Joe,
It’s a thorn in your hand, and a cut on your toe.
A point, a grain, a bee, a bite,
A blink, a buzzard, the sudden stroke of night.
A pin, a needle, a sting, a pain,
A snail, a riddle, a weep, a stain.
A pass in the mountains, a horse, a mule,
In the distance the shelves rode three shadows of blue.

And the riverbank talks of the promise of life
In your heart, in your heart.

A stick, a stone, the end of the load,
The rest of the stump, a lonesome road.
A sliver of glass, a life, the sun,
A night, a death, the end of the run.

And the riverbank talks of the waters of march

It’s the end of all strain,
It’s the joy in your heart.

Through much cleverness I discovered and downloaded a wonderful video recording of a 1973 performance of this song by Elis Regina, which I am hosting here:

Elis Regina and Antonio Carlos Jobim — Aguas de Marco

Enjoy it. May it make you as happy as it has made me.

(p.s. There are many versions of this song available for purchase from the iTunes Music Store, both in English and in Portuguese. I bought the entire album called Elis y Tom because I liked this music so much.)

4 Replies to “The Waters of March”

  1. Aaron says:

    I strongly recommend the version recorded by Jane Monheit. It’s amazing.

  2. e2c says:

    Hi – This is actually Elis performing with her then-husband, pianist César Carmargo Mariano, for a Brazilian TV show. There’s more info. here. (Great DVD, too.)

  3. e2c says:

    Hi – This is actually Elis performing with her then-husband, pianist César Carmargo Mariano, for a Brazilian TV show. There’s more info. here. (Great DVD, too.)

  4. John says:

    Thanks for the post and the host. This is one of my favorite songs and there are several great performances including those by Jobim himself and even Basia.

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