This composition draws its text from a popular 15th-century Spanish-Sephardic romance celebrating the intelligence, courage, and resourcefulness of a woman warrior. The melody draws on typical Sephardic melodic and rhythmic patterns but combines them with a modern harmonic sense to reveal elements that are not only cross-cultural but also cross historical periods. 

“Malaña tripa de madre

que tanta hija parió,

parió siete hijas hembras

sin dingún hijo varón!”

Saltó la más chica de ellas,

la que en buen día nació:

“No mos maldigas, mi padre,

no mos maldiga siñor,

si es por la suya guerra,

la guerra la venço yo.

 

Deme arma y caballos

y un vestido de varón,

yo vos venceré la guerra

mijor de un hijo varón.”

“Calla, calla la mi hija,

que es verguença y bizayón.”

 

“¿Ande guadras tus cabellos,

tus cabellos brilles son?

“Yo guadro mis cabellos

dembaxo de mi tarpox.”

“¿Ande guadras tu cuerpo blanco

que relumbra el ojo de sol?”

“Yo guadro mi cuerpo blanco

dembaxo de mi jibón.”

“¿Ande guadras las tus caras blanca?”

“Me las empaña el sol.”

“¿Ande guadras las tus pechos?”

“Debaxo del jubón, siñor.”

 

Diole armas y caballos

y un vestido de varón.

Ya se viste, ya se arma,

ya partió para Aragón.

En entrando por la guerra,

la guerra la venció,

tanto fue su fortaleza,

el tarpox se le cayó.

El hijo del rey que estaba en frente

ya cayo y se desmayó,

ni con ruda ni con guesmos

el hijo del re se arretornó.

Con dos palabricas de ella

el hijo del rey se alevantó.

 

“Ya me muero la mi madre,

ya me muero de este amor,

esta que venció la guerra

hembra es y no varón.”

“Házele un cumbite

al baño de tu siñor.”

Ya le haze el cumbite

al baño de tu siñor,

botón quita, botón mete,

una carta ya escribió,

caballeros estaban prontos,

se subió y se fuyó.

Por unas vegas arriba

corre como un gavilán

por otras vegas abajo

corre sin le divisar.

“Adiós, adiós, el buen rey,

y su palacio real;

que siete años le servi

doncela de Portugal,

y otros siete le sirviera

si non fuese el desnudar.”

 

Óyela el hijo del rey,

tras ella va a cabalgar.

“Corre, Corre hijo del rey

que no habras de alcanzar

hasta en casa de mi padre,

si quieres irme a buscar.”

“Cursed be the mother’s womb

that bore so many daughters;

she bore seven daughters

but not even one son!”

The youngest jumped up;

the one born on a good day:

“Don’t curse us, father.,

don’t curse us, sir.

If it’s because of your war,

I will go win it for you.

 

Give me arms and a horse,

and men’s clothing,

and I’ll win the war

better than any son!”

“Shut up!, daughter!

That would be an embarrassment and a shame!

 

“Where will you hide your hair,

your hair which shines so brightly?”

“I’ll hide my hair

under my helmet.”

“Where will you hide your white body

that shines like the sun?”

“I’ll hide my white body

under my doublet.”

“Where will you hide your white face?”

“The sun will darken it.”

“Where will you hide your breasts?”

“Under my breastplate.”

 

He gave her arms, and a horse,

and men’s clothing.

She quickly dressed and took up her arms

and went to Aragon.

Upon entering the battle,

she won the war.

She fought so energetically

that her helmet fell off.

The king’s son, who was in front,

saw (that she was a woman) and fainted.

Neither with rue nor with balsams

could they revive him,

but with two little words from,

the king’s son arose.

 

“I’m dying, mother!

I’m dying of love!

The one who won the war

is a woman, not a man.”

“Invite her to come

to the king’s baths.”

He invited her

to the king’s baths.

She opened one button, then closed it again.

She wrote a letter;

her horsemen were quick;

she jumped on its back and raced off.

By the high roads

she raced like a hawk.

By low roads she raced

without being seen.

“Goodbye, good king.

Farewell to your royal palace.

I’ve served you seven years

as a maiden from Portugal;

I’d serve seven more

if I didn’t have to undress!”

 

The king’s son heard her

and raced after her.

“Run, run, king’s son.

You won’t catch up with me

until I’m at my father’s house,

if you want to come look for me there.”

Copyright ©2019 by Lynn Gumert. All Rights Reserved