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
Mi verso es de un verde claro
Cultivo una rosa blanca
Y para el cruel que me arranca
Con los pobres de la tierra
I’m an honest man
My verse is light green
I cultivate a white rose
And for the cruel one who breaks
With the poor people of the earth