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Luis López Álvarez–Nuevo Mester de Juglaría’s “Castilla, canto de esperanza”

lopezalvarezLuis López Álvarez (born in El Bierzo, Leon) is a Spanish poet, member of the 50’s Generation. As the rest of the members of this poetic generation, López Álvarez’s poetry encloses a critic against Franco’s dictatorship. In this way, his epic long poem Los Comuneros (“The Commoners”, 1st edition, 1972, with a prologue of great poet Vicente Aleixandre) had, in a certain sense, a message which means that the dictator and his ministers were the heirs of those who sentenced to death to the Commoners of Castile.

I"La Batalla de Villalar"/ "The battle of Villalar", Manuel Picolo López (1851-1913)n 1518, the courts of Valladolid (kingdom of Castile’s principal town was movile) choose to Charles I king of Castile (later, of the other reigns), under these conditions: learn Spanish; stop designing foreigners as ministers; the prohibition of get out from Castile gold and horses; and a better treatment to his mother, queen Joanna. In 1519 was designed as Emperor of Germany, as Charles V, and began to break all those conditions with some other ones, for launch his war to be Emperor. He left to Cardinal Adrian of Utrecht (future pope Adrian VI) as regent of Castile. So the nobles and attorneys swore not to crown him as a king, and so they told to their conceils… But the king suborned them, and their people get anger and lynch to some of them. The villas, towns and provinces of the reign of Castile (including the actuals regions of Extremadura, La Rioja and some of Andalusia) rebelled, and some knights of the low nobility were chosen as attorneys of their towns and captains of their own armies: the most famous among them were Juan de Padilla of Toledo, Juan Bravo of Segovia, Francisco Maldonado of Salamanca, and many others. But also some representatives of the middle classes and clergies as Antonio de Acuña, bishop of Zamora. The captains and new gobernors formed their lands in the form of Communities (Sp. Comunidades), and so started the Revolt of the Comuneros (Sp. Guerra de las Comunidades de Castilla), which last from 1520 to 1521, and in which fought the Comuneros (or Commoners) and the Council of Regency, chaired by Adrian of Utrecht in the name of the king (who was in Germany). At the same time, Valencia get into the rebellion too, in the movement known as the Revolt of the Brotherhoods (Sp. Guerra de Germanías; the term is dued to the Catalan word germà, “brother”, and designes the guild of the craftsmen: so their partidaries were called agermanats, Cat. “twinned”). The partidaries of the king, known as Imperials (Sp. Imperiales), razed and sacked the towns which refused to serve their cause, as Medina del Campo (a town of Valladolid, which population refused to give artillery for the assault of Segovia), meanwhile the Comuneros get the support of the queen Joanna, prisoner in a convent in Tordesillas (province of Valladolid) because of her madness. But the nobility of Burgos betrayed to the Comuneros, and sided with the king, who, from Los comuneros de Castilla, ajusticiamiento de los capitanes comuneros en Villalar el 24 de abril de 1521, por Antonio Gisbert, año 1860.Worms, signed the conviction against the Comuneros (to die, if they were seculars, and get out of the convents lossing their belongings if they were clergies). In 1521, the principals captains (Padilla, Bravo and Maldonado) of the Commoners were beaten and imprisoned at the battle of Villalar, which suposed the total defeat of the Commoners, and sentenced to hang, later, their heads were cut off and stuke on a pikes to set an example.

Los Comuneros FrontalLuis López Álvarez’s ends his poema, telling all of this story, with a call to the hope and rebellion. In 1976, the great Castilian folk group Nuevo Mester de Juglaría (a name that come from the Middle-age literary genre of the minstrels named mester de juglaría; maybe a translation could be New Labor of Minstrelsy) adapted and put into the traditional Castilian music the poem of López Álvarez in an LP named as his book. This is the last part of the poem, adapted by José Torregrosa and José Aldea for the group. The first strophe is the transcription of López Álvarez’s poem, with some lines that (probably due to censorship) Nuevo Mester de Juglaría didn’t use; the rest is the adaptation of José Aldea. The title of the song was given by the group, and became in an anthem of many politicians groups against the dying Francoism, from the left wing to the left-regionalism:

Castilla, canto de esperanza

Mil quinientos veintiuno,
y en abril para más señas,
en Villalar ajustician
quienes justicia pidieran.
¡Malditos sean aquellos
que firmaron la sentencia!
¡Maldiga el cielo a Cornejo,
alcalde de mala ciencia,
y a Salmerón y a García,
y al escribano Madera,
y la maldición alcance
a toda su descendencia,
que herederos suyos son
los que ajusticiar quisieran
al que luchó por el pueblo
y perdió tan justa guerra!

Desde entonces, ya Castilla
no se ha vuelto a levantar
¡ay, ay!
no se ha vuelto a levantar
en manos de rey bastardo
o de regente falaz,
¡ay, ay!
o de regente falaz,
siempre añorando una junta
o esperando un capitán
¡ay, ay!
o esperando un capitán.

Quién sabe si las cigüeñas
han de volver por San Blas,
si las heladas de Marzo
los brotes se han de llevar,
si las llamas comuneras
otra vez repicarán:
cuanto más vieja la yesca,
más fácil se prenderá,
cuanto más vieja la yesca
y más duro el pedernal:
si los pinares ardieron,
¡aún nos queda el encinar!

Castile, song of hope

(In) Fifteen Twenty One,/ and in April to be exact,/ in Villalar execute/ those who were asking for justice./ Accursed were those who/ signed the sentence!/ May Heaven curse to Cornejo,/ mayor with bad science,/ and Salmerón and García,/ and to Madera the notary,/ and may the curse reach/ to all their offspring,/ for their heirs are/ those who wanted to execute/ to who fought for the people/ and lost such fair war! (1)// Since then, Castile already/ didn’t arise again/ ay, ay!/ didn’t arise again/ on the hands of a illegimate king/ or of a false regent,/ ay, ay!/ or of a false regent,/ always yearning for a  assembly/ or waiting for a captain/ ay, ay!/ or waiting for a captain.// Who knows if the storks/ shall come back again at Saint Blas’day (2),/ if the frost of March/ shall take away the shoots,/ if the Commoner flames/ shall ring again:/ the older the tinder is,/ the easier it shall ignite,/ the older the tinder/ and the harder the flint:/ if the pinewood burned,/ we still have the oak wood!.

Luis López Álvarez

Music Adaptation: José Torregrosa

Lyric adaptation: José Aldea

Notes about the music: every strophe have a different melody, which are songs from the ancient Castilian folklore, sung in many variations: the most of them are songs of work and love. But, probably, the most famous is the melody of the second strophe, known as “Los mozos de Monleón”, a Castilian romance that tales about the story of a boy who wants to fight a bull, torear, despite the advice of the old cowherd; and so, the boy dies. The song was immortalized by Federico García Lorca, who collected the song, in his 1931 record Colección de Canciones populares españolas (Collection of Spanish folksongs), playing piano, with the singer “La Argentinita”.

Notes about the poem:

(1) This verses can be understood as a condemn against Francoism, because, among other things, the Francoism claim to be heir of the so called Spanish Empire.

(2) Reference to a Castilian proverb, which sais Por San Blas, las cigüeñas verás, literally “At San Blas’ (day) you will see the storks”. It means that the srorks get back from their migrations and make their nests on the bell towers.

Recently, Spanish heavy-metal bands as Imperativo Legal (from Valladolid) and Lujuria (from Segovia). This is Lujuria’s version:

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