The troubadours of the people, a jewel of orality

It was 1960 and in the Folkloric Research Direction of the Central University "Marta Abreu" of Las Villas, a restless, loquacious, sagacious, visionary, laborious as a deeply human man, worked tirelessly in the search, selection and prologue of a future book, which would be, is and will be, a jewel of the orality of the Cuban people: Los Trovadores del Pueblo (The Troubadours of the People). That man was, is, Samuel Feijóo Rodríguez, the Sensible Zarapico, who was bequeathing us an essential work, when it comes to the research of the tenth and its culturists.

At the beginning of the prologue, Feijóo points out: "At the end of the compilation, searching through hundreds of pamphlets, loose leaves, verbal-arduous tradition, cheerful patience, of the first volume of our country troubadours, a singularly bitter question arises from our astonishment before their exquisite decimas: By means of what form of anti-poetic blindness have these varied and wise 'bards', strong and pure centers of the soul of the country, the patriotic heart , been ignored in the compendiums and studies of Cuban literature that our thousands of students read as national culture, 'literary' creation? Why have they not been proudly included in the many literary texts as one of the true victories of our own expression?




We do not have the information about the number of copies that were published that October 10, 1960 in the printing house Ucar, García,
S.A., in the Cuban capital. We do not know the reasons for the edition of only one volume, since we are convinced that Samuel had enough material for a second volume. Suffice it to say that in this, the first and only one, he compiled tens of hundreds of décimas of more than 280 poets, including thirteen more who appear anonymously. A total of 684 pages attest to this. No one, no researcher, had ever delved with his ear close to the earth, ours, theirs, into the soul, into the soul and feelings of the humblest creators of the world.

Samuel arranges, for the better understanding of the readers, the location of the works by epochs, that is to say: from 1900 to 1914; from 1915 to 1935 and from 1936 to 1958. Décimas subject and works, including four-handed ones, are a whole arsenal of incomparable oral value, that like ripe fruits, Samuel gathered, up and down, roads, alleys, villages, plains and hills, in an essential harvest for spiritual nourishment. Hard work at a time when, according to Feijóo himself, poets were published little or almost nothing, with rare exceptions.
And Samuel closes in his prologue: "And what rare centaurs and Greek gods in the Cuban countryside, following the tradition of the old Cuban cultured poets Iturrondo, Plácido, Luaces... The inheritance of the Cucalambé prince of our bards". Metaphysics, religion, political purity, homeland, love, joy, jokes, freshness, pain, frustration, anguish, rebelliousness, walk in these pages written by the people, oblivious to fashions, to aesthetic doctorates, to petulant Frenchified poets, disguised as people, villagers, self-triumphant groups and dictates latrine and porcine guidelines. It is the world of the joy of the song and the popular soul.  In the village, the one that remains, the one that with the endearing light illuminates. What he collects remains. Its culture is the mother of knowledge, the depth of one and all the brightness of man. Here is the master simplicity, the transparency, the fantasy, the joyful grace, the joke, the satire, the purity, the pain and the hope of our people. Here is his virile face, in love, fresh, in profound simplicity".
Invaluable treasure, jewel of the oral tradition, Los Trovadores del pueblo, are inscribed in the affective memory of the Island, and are, in my opinion, a communicating
through which beats, in rhyme, the poetic heart of the nation.

Thank you, Zarapico, for saving them from time and oblivion!

(Taken from 5 de Septiembre)