MarsEarth

Old world wisdom, new world insight – poems, poetry, philosophy, dreams, commentary, ideas

La LLorona – the weeping woman (revisited)

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by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

la llorona, marsearth,

Natalia Lafourcade

There is a legendary tale in Mexico (and the American southwest) about a beautiful woman who weeps in anguish and sheds many tears.
She is a woman whose children died.

It is said that her ghost haunts the rivers and streams and waterways because her children drowned.
And she drowned them herself – in anger against her husband’s unfaithfulness.

Among the stories told and re-told in families with Hispanic traditions,
the tale of “La LLorona” (lah yore-RONE-nah) is probably the scariest.

I have heard versions in English and in Spanish,
and with a very few embellishment, the haunting cries of this distraught woman give chills to this day.

(Thanks to my Tío Andrés, our Spanish folktale story teller.)

Essentially, we travel back to the 1800s and there a beautiful young woman, Elena, lives in a small village near a fast moving stream. She encounters a young and handsome ranchero travelling through town. She desires him for her husband. So, she uses her beauty and knowledge of men to enflame his passion. The ranchero uses his wealthy upbringing to try to win the young woman’s heart and become his bride. Notice, this is not a love story, but more about power plays. We never think of this as a love story. Only of their drive to conquer the other and win their prize.

The youngsters are wed and have two children. Time quickly passes, the ranchero’s parents retire, and the ranch duties increase. He is a businessman, away for months at a time. When he comes home his only interests are his children. Elena is not abused – she is ignored. This angers her greatly until one evening the rage is overwhelming.

It is said that after a long spell, Elena’s husband returns the very evening before All Saints Day. Elena and her children are walking to an evening church service. The ranchero is seen riding in a carriage with a well-to-do young lady as a passenger.  He sees Elena and his children on the road and stops the carriage. Gets out and greets his children. Climbs back into the carriage and rides away. This rebuff is more than Elena can bear. She grabs her children, the joy of her husband, and drags them to the water’s edge. She throws them into the fast-moving current. Their drowning gasps snap her out of her tormented state. She runs along the bank and dives in to pull them out. But it is too late, and their submerged bodies are throttled far downstream.

la llorona, marsearth

The next day Elena’s dead body washes ashore. The townspeople look for her husband. He cannot be found.  They decide to bury Elena at the water’s edge where they found her. As soon as that night, her ghost can be seen wondering along the water’s edge, wearing a white shroud, and mournfully calling out, ¡Ay de mi! ¿Dónde están mis hijos?  (Woe is me! Where are my children?)  From then on, they called that ghost la llorona, the weeping woman.

As children we were warned not to go out in the dark; not to play by the water’s edge; not to investigate a cry in the dark of the  night.  If we heard such a cry we were to run the opposite way. Because La LLorona might mistake us for one of her own, then snatch us and drown us in the water. (This scares me still to think about it.)

When Elena died her soul went to Heaven. The angels asked her where her children were. She went back to Earth to find them. Elena has not found them yet. Be careful, she might mistake you for one of her own……..

In the musical rendition of  La LLornona, Mexican singer, songwriter, and Grammy Award winner, Natalia LaFourcade, takes a new perspective on the infamous child killer story.  Her lyrics seem to be sung from the point of view of a woman who sympathizes with the Elena character.  It is not the lyrics that are as mesmerizing, as the powerful yet delicate way Natalia sings. It is definitely Natalia’s versatile voice that is the captivating element of this song.  (Side note – her accompanists were the same musicians who backed up Chavela Vargas and they are Juan Carlos Allende and Miguel Peña of Los Macorinos).  There are nearly 30 verses of this traditional Latin American song. Natalia selected a few that are quite chilling. They are also the ones which accentuate her beautiful voice. ¡Disfruta esta canción y recuerda la llorona!

The English translation here reflects genuine language usage, and is not a machine output nor a literal/ non-conversational conversion.

LA LLORONA – Natalia Lafourcade

No sé que tienen las flores, llorona,
las flores de un campo santo
No sé que tienen las flores, llorona,
las flores de un campo santo

Que cuando las mueve el viento, llorona,
parece que están llorando.
Que cuando las mueve el viento, llorona,
parece que están llorando.

Ay de mí, llorona. Llorona, tú eres mi chunca. (palabra zapoteca)
Ay de mí, llorona. Llorona, tú eres mi chunca.

Me quitarán de quererte, llorona
pero de olvidarte nunca
Me quitarán de quererte llorona
Pero de olvidarte nunca

A un Santo Cristo de fierro, llorona,
mis penas le conté yo.
A un Santo Cristo de fierro llorona,
Mis penas le conté yo
Cuáles no serían mis penas llorona
Que el Santo Cristo lloró
Y cuáles no serían mis penas llorona
Que el Santo Cristo lloró

¡Ay de mi, llorona, llorona! Llorona de un campo lirio.
¡Ay de mi, llorona, llorona! Llorona de un campo lirio.
El que no sabe de amores, llorona,
no sabe lo que es martirio.
El que no sabe de amores, llorona,
no sabe lo que es martirio.

Todos me dicen el negro, llorona,
negro pero cariñoso.
Todos me dicen el negro, llorona,
negro pero cariñoso.
Yo soy como el chile verde llorona
Picante pero sabroso
Yo soy como el chile verde llorona,
Picante pero sabroso

¡Ay de mi, llorona! LLorona.
Llorona, llévame al río.
¡Ay de mi, llorona! LLorona.
Llorona, llévame al río.
Tápame con tu rebozo, llorona,
porque me muero de frío.
Tápame con tu rebozo, llorona,
porque me muero de frío.

Si porque te quiero quieres, llorona, quieres que te quiera más.
Si porque te quiero quieres, llorona, quieres que te quiera más.
Si ya te he dado la vida, llorona ¿qué más quieres? ¿Quieres más?
Si ya te he dado la vida, llorona ¿qué más quieres? ¿Quieres más?

¡Ay de mi, ay de mi, ay de mi, llorona!
¡Ay de mi, ay de mi, ay de mi, llorona!

~~~ in English  ~~~

I do not know what the flowers have, weeping woman,
the flowers of a holy field.
I do not know what the flowers have, weeping woman,
the flowers of a holy field
When the wind moves them, weeping woman,
it seems like they are crying.
When the wind moves them, weeping woman,
it seems like they are crying.

Woe is me, weeping woman. You are my dear one. (Zapotec Native word)
Woe is me, weeping woman. You are my dear one.
They will stop me from loving you, weeping woman,
but cannot make me forget you.
They will stop me from loving you, weeping woman,
but cannot make me forget you.

To a crucifix of iron, weeping woman
I told my sorrows.
To a crucifix of iron, weeping woman
I told my sorrows.
You can’t imagine my sorrows, weeping woman,
even Jesus cried.
You can’t imagine my sorrows, weeping woman,
even Jesus cried.

Woe is me, weeping woman! Llorona, Lorona in a lily field.
Woe is me, weeping woman! Llorona, Lorona in a lily field.
The one who does not know love, weeping woman,
does not know martyrdom.
The one who does not know love, weeping woman,
does not know martyrdom.

Everyone calls me the upset one, weeping woman,
bothered but affectionate.
Everyone calls me the upset one, weeping woman,
bothered but affectionate.
I am (more) like a green chili pepper, weeping woman,
hot (spicy) but salacious.
I am (more) like a green chili pepper, weeping woman,
hot (spicy) but salacious.

Woe is me, weeping woman!
LLorona. LLorona carry me to the river.
Woe is me, weeping woman!
LLorona. LLorona carry me to the river.
Cover me with your shawl, weeping woman,
because I am so very cold.
Cover me with your shawl, weeping woman,
because I am so very cold.

Yes, because I love you, weeping woman, you want me to love you more.
Yes, because I love you, weeping woman, you want me to love you more.
Since I have given you life, weeping woman, what more do you want? Do you want more?
Since I have given you life, weeping woman, what more do you want? Do you want more?

Woe is me, weeping woman!

Learn more at her website – click here.

Copyright © 1960-2018 Lawrence J. J. Leonard All rights reserved.

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Author: SpindoctorUSA

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