Y las mariposas

Folk songs tell stories in a microcosm. Traditionally, they record stories of history, which do not always or often end happily. This is a song by Pancho Barraza that, several years ago, I listened to repetitively for its melancholic sound (many people have done this song, so I can’t say who is the original artist). I appreciate it for its simplicity, and for the way it tells a story in very few words.

I’m not going to translate it for you, but will give you the gist: it’s a love story between two young people, a girl of 15 and a boy of 17. They fall in love in a spring wheat field, where there are butterflies flying from flower to flower and all around them. Then it is winter, and they are older. It’s a time without flowers. She’s a housewife, and he’s a poet (obviously, as the song is from his perspective, and only a poet could write a line like cuando hasta el alma se encuentra en flores).

The song tells a story with a lingering sadness, perhaps from nostalgia. It doesn’t tell the whole story, however, and that is why it lingers in the mind. Did they stay together? Are they happy? It’s winter for them now, but that doesn’t mean they are unhappy, especially since they can hold onto their love by imagining the butterflies that they encountered in that afternoon so long ago.

Yes, but who can really hold onto butterflies without crushing them? It’s a delicate business, for sure.

Era una tarde de primavera
cuando hasta el alma se encuentra en flores
yo 17, tu quinceañera
tu colegiala y yo soñador

Y en aquel trigal
el sol cayó primero
despues un pantalón vaquero
y una falda escolar

Y las mariposas
volaban alrededor
y nos enteramos por primera vez
lo que es el amor

Y las mariposas
y las mariposas
y las mariposas
volaban de flor en flor
y nos enteramos por primera vez
lo que es el amor

Era una tarde de primavera
hoy es invierno y ya no hay flores
el tiempo pasa quien lo dijera
tu ama de casa y yo trovador

En aquel trigal
el sol cayó primero
despues un pantalón vaquero
y una falda escolar

Y las mariposas
volaban alrededor
y nos enteramos por primera vez
lo que es el amor.

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4 comments

  1. I wish I knew Spanish so I could get more of this! My French is helping me get more of a gist though…

    I love folk songs–there are so many that have little snippets of history in them that make them just breathtaking when you realize what they're "really" talking about. And of course, they're never "really talking about" just one thing, because they've been sung and reinterpretted for centuries…thanks for sharing this one!

  2. I think this is probably a modern folk song, but I know what you mean about old folk songs.

    As far as Spanish vs French, I must say that I still find French difficult. Italian I can usually understand for the most part, but not French. It might help if I were to learn the pronunciation rules for French, though. I find them baffling.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. My family used to sing tons of folk songs. I never thought of them as telling a story I'll have to really listen next time they get riled up.

  4. Many do not just tell stories, but record history as well. There are people out there who are still trying to do that with song–Enter the Haggis, for example.

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