Spanish song: Guantanamera
Language Resources

Song: Guantanamera

This song, originally from Cuba, has been sung by many Spanish speakers, especially while doing house work or when we’ve needed to keep calm. It’s a song that brings idyllic Cuban beaches to mind and can help us forget our troubles.

The history of the song is very interesting. The verses at the beginning of the song are taken from a poem called “Versos Sencillos” (Simple Verses) by Cuban national hero, José Martí, but nobody knows for sure who the true author of the song was. Today, the most accepted story is that the lyrics were written by José “Joseíto” Fernández Díaz and the music was written by Julián Orbón. According to Fernández Díaz, he used the song to talk about current events in Cuba, changing the lyrics to talk about different situations and issues.

But how did it become such a hit outside of Cuba? In large part it was made famous by Pete Seeger, the American folk singer’s version.

But let’s take a look at what’s important, the song itself. Here’s how it goes:

Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma
Y antes de morirme, quiero
Echar mis versos del alma
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera

Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmín encendido
Mi verso es de un ciervo herido
Que busca en el monte amparo
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera

Cultivo una rosa blanca
En julio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera

Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazón con que vivo
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo
Cultivo la rosa blanca
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera

Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace más que el mar
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera

I’m an honest man
From where the palm trees grow
And before I die, I want
To share the verses in my soul
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera

My verse is light green
My verse is fiery crimson
My verse is a wounded doe
Looking for shelter in the mountains
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera

I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For a true friend
Who gives me his honest hand
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera

And for the cruel one who breaks
My beating heart
I cultivate neither thistles nor nettles
I cultivate a white rose
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera

With the poor people of the earth
I cast my lot
Mountain streams
Please me more than the sea
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera