Duerme Negrito on Throwback Thursday

Editor Alina Celeste shares a favorite Latin American Folk Song. Photo from Wikimedia, by user Inti.

A friend recommended this song to me when I was looking for new Spanish lullabies to learn. It had been sung in her family as a girl, and she sings it now to her son.

I was immediately struck by the gentle melody and haunting, sad lyrics. It’s the sort of the song I can’t stop wondering about. Did someone write it as they watched the baby be soothed? Is the singer the person who wrote it, singing to some friend or family’s child? How long has it been sung? I can almost hear the tune float out over a dark field, in some far off country place, just crickets and birds as accompaniment.

This beautiful lullaby was made popular by the Latin American Folk Singer Atahualpa Yupanqui. According to him, he heard it on his travels, somewhere in the countryside between Colombia and Venezuela. It has since been sung by many other artists, the sad, haunting lyrics and melody tend to stay with you. Below I’ve put a video of Mr Yupanqui and one of myself. Mercedes Sosa has also sung a lovely version.

Duerme Negrito

Duerme, duerme negrito
que to mama esta en el campo, negrito.
duerme, duerme mobila,
que to mama esta en el campo, mobila.Que va a traer codornices para ti.
Que va a traer rica fruta para ti
Que va a traer carne de cerdos para ti
Que va a traer muchas cosas para ti
Y si el negro no se duerme,
viene el diablo blanco y ZAZ!
Le come le patitat chicapubma
a pumba chica pumDuerme, duerme negrito
que to mama esta en el campo, negrito.Trabajando, trabajando duramente
Trabajando, si, trabajando y no le paga
Trabajando, si, trabajando y va de luto
Trabajando, si, trabajando y va tosiendo
Trabajando si, trabajando para el negrito chiquitito
Trabajando, si, trabajando para ti, para ti

Duerme, duerme negrito
que to mama esta en el campo, negrito.
duerme, duerme mobila,
que to mama esta en el campo, mobila.

Sleep, sleep, little black child,
Your mommy’s in the field,
Little black child.
Sleep, sleep, mobila,
Your mommy’s in the field, mobila.
She’s going to bring quail for you,
She’s going to bring many things for you,
She’s going to bring pork for you,
She’s going to bring many things for you.And if the little black one doesn’t go to sleep,
The white devil will come
And zap! It’ll eat his little leg!
Chicapumba Chicapumba,
Apumba chicapum,Sleep, sleep little black child,
Your mommy’s in the fields,
Little black child.

She’s working, Working hard,
Working yes, Working and they don’t pay her,
Working yes, Working and she’s coughing,
Working yes, Working and she wears mourning clothes,
Working yes, For her tiny black child
Working yes, For her tiny black child
Working yes,They don’t pay her, yes,
Hard yes, She’s coughing yes,
She wears mourning clothes, yes.

Sleep, sleep little black child,
Your mommy’s in the fields,
Little black child.
Sleep, sleep little black child,
Your mommy’s in the fields,
Little black child.

 

 

 

 

 

1 comment

  1. Beautiful….

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