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"La vuelta del marido (The Husband's Return)," #153 Swapping Stories
Irvan Perez, Poydras, Louisiana


--Yo soy la recién casada,
de mí nadie gozará.
Mi marído a la guerra,
a tomar su libertad.
Mi marído es alto y rubio
y un vestido le corté.
En las mangas de las espaldas,
lleva un letrero francés.
Mi marído está en su guerra,
con su vestido francés.
Yo me miro en el espejo:
ĦQué guapa viuda no seré!"
--Señora, si usted quiere,
nos casaremos los dos.
Si es el gusto mío y tuyo
y la voluntad de Dios.
--Hay seis años lo he esperado
y seis más lo esperaré.
Si a los doce años él no viene,
contigo me casaré.
--Yo tengo un vestido negro;
tres sastres lo cortó.
ĦAy, mujer, usted está en luto,
sin haberme muerto yo!



The Husband's Return

"I'm a recently married woman;
no one will enjoy my love.
My husband went to war
to look for his freedom.
My husband is tall and blond;
I made him his uniform.
On the sleeves of his jacket,
there is a French label.
My husband is off at war,
wearing his French suit.
I look at myself in the mirror:
'What a pretty widow I'll be!'"
"Madam, if you are willing,
we could both be married;
if you and I want to
and if it's God's will."
"I've waited six years for him
and I'll wait six years more.
If he doesn't come back in twelve,
then I'll marry you."
"I have a black dress;
three tailors made it for me."
"Wife, you're in mourning,
though I haven't even died."


Notes to the Teacher: This song reflects one of the favorite themes of Pan-European balladry: the husband returns from war, unrecognized, and before revealing his true identity, tests the fidelity of his unsuspecting wife. The Husband's Return (in -é-assonance) is a very old text-type in the Hispanic tradition. Its earliest known analogue figures in a medieval French manuscript dating from the 1400s and the earliest Spanish text was printed in 1605. The ballad is still sung essentially wherever Spanish is spoken today, from Spain, the Canary Islands, and throughout Spanish America, to the most distant reaches of the Hispanic world, such as the Philippines and the Judeo-Spanish communities of Morocco, the Balkans, and the Near East. The Isleño versions show particular affinity to texts collected in the American Southwest. For the song's origin and distribution in Hispanic lands, as well as for other Isleño variants, see Armistead (1978, 45-46; 1983, 42-43; 1992, 64-65). Compare these motifs: N741. Unexpected meeting of husband and wife; N741.4. Husband and wife reunited after long separation and tedious quest; K1813. Disguised husband visits his wife. Concerning the Isleños and their folk literature, see MacCurdy (1975) and Armistead (1992); for their history, Din (1988); for their language, MacCurdy (1950) and Lipski (1990).

About the Transcriptions


National Endowment for the Arts.

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