Manuel Curros Enríquez’s “O Maio” (put into a song by Luis Emilio Batallán)

M. Curros Enríquez, by Alexandre VigoThere’s a lot of celebrations along Spain that celebrates the coming of the spring, specially, the comming of May. They are celebrations dating back from Pre-Christian, and even Pre-Romans, times. One of the more beautiful is Os Maios (literally, “The Mays”), celebrated in Galicia, where kids, carrying garlands made of flowers, sing to the neighbors in exchange for sweets and nuts. The great Galician poet, Manuel Curros Enríquez, took the sens of the party and gave it a social meaning, waiting for a May of justice. (Though in Spanish, this is a very complete note about the celebrations of May:

O Maio

Ahí ven o maio
de flores cuberto…
Puxéronse á porta
cantándome os nenos;
e os puchos furados
pra min extendendo,
pedíronme crocas
dos meus castiñeiros. 

Pasai, rapaciños,
calados e quedos,
que o que é polo de hoxe
que darvos non teño.
Eu sonvo-lo pobre
do pobo galego:
pra min non hai maio.
¡pra min sempre é inverno!

Cando eu me atopare
de donos liberto
e o pan non mo quiten
trabucos e préstamos,
e como os do abade
florezan meus eidos,
chegado habrá entonces
o maio que eu quero.

¿Queredes castañas
dos meus castiñeiros…?
Cantádeme un maio
sin bruxas nin demos,
un maio sin segas
usuras nin preitos,
sin quintas nin portas,
nin foros nin cregos.

The May Celebration*

There comes May/ covered with flowers…/ The children got to my door/ singing to me;/ and laying to me/ their holey bonnets,/ they asked me for chestnuts/ from my chestnut trees.// Get in, kids,/ still and quiet,/ for today/ I have nothing to give you./ I am your poor/ of the Galician people:/ for me there is no May./ For me it’s always the winter!// When I felt/ free from the owners/ and my bread won’t be taken away by/ blunderbusses and lendings,/ and just like the abbot’s/ my fields shall bloom,/ then it may comes/ the May that I want.// Do you want chestnuts/ from my chestnut trees…?/ Sing to me a May**/ without witches nor demons,/ a May without harvests/ usuries nor lawsuits,/ without country houses nor doors,/ nor privileges nor clergies.

Manuel Curros Enríquez

* The title of the poem could be well translated as “May”; but as Curros Enríquez uses the article o (“the”), he may refers to the celebration that takes place in this month. So I translated it as “the May celebration”. Ok! There are a parties all along Europe called “May Day”, but these parties, ususally, have place on 1st May, and the Galician Maios are from late April to early May, even till Saint John’s day.

** As the party, the songs the kids sing, also are naming “maios”, *mays*.

Translation to Spanish:

Many years later, a Galician songwriter named Luis Emilio Batallán put the poem into a delightful folk music, for his LP of 1975, named as the first verse of Curros’ poem, Ahí ven o Maio:

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lorenzo on 21 abril, 2012 at 18:46

    «O maio» de Toscana 🙂

  2. Muy bueno Lorenzo! É una vera delizia!

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