Andaluces de Jaén,

I first came across this poem in a version which was sung by Paco Ibanez. It went under the name of the first line, “Andaluces de Jaen”, rather than the title, “Aceituneros” – the olive pickers. I suspect it is more usually known by that first line, as I understand the poem has iconic status in Andalucia. Miguel Hernandez, like Garcia Lorca, was a native of Andalusia, and like Lorca, met an untimely end at the hands of the Franco regime. Lorca was taken out and shot in the early days of the Spanish Civil War, while Hernandez was captured and thrown into jail, where he died a few years later, probably from mis-treatment. Very sad, and an incredible waste of great talent.

The poem, then, is about the olive-pickers of Andalusia, the conditions under which they worked, and a call to arms to do whatever they can to improve their condition by rising up against their social conditions and the power structure of the economy. It is both a protest and an attempt to mobilise the poor farm labourers of southern Spain, who lived precariously, in a harsh climate and subject to the whims and exploitation of large landowners. I also recommend another work on this subject, Miguel Delibes’ novel, “Los santos inocentes”.

Andaluces de Jaén,
aceituneros altivos,
decidme en el alma: ¿quién,
quién levantó los olivos?

No los levantó la nada,
ni el dinero, ni el señor,
sino la tierra callada,
el trabajo y el sudor.

Unidos al agua pura
y a los planetas unidos,
los tres dieron la hermosura
de los troncos retorcidos.

Levántate, olivo cano,
dijeron al pie del viento.
Y el olivo alzó una mano
poderosa de cimiento.

Andaluces de Jaén,
aceituneros altivos,
decidme en el alma: ¿quién
amamantó los olivos?

Vuestra sangre, vuestra vida,
no la del explotador
que se enriqueció en la herida
generosa del sudor.

No la del terrateniente
que os sepultó en la pobreza,
que os pisoteó la frente,
que os redujo la cabeza.

Árboles que vuestro afán
consagró al centro del día
eran principio de un pan
que sólo el otro comía.

¡Cuántos siglos de aceituna,
los pies y las manos presos,
sol a sol y luna a luna,
pesan sobre vuestros huesos!

Andaluces de Jaén,
aceituneros altivos,
pregunta mi alma: ¿de quién,
de quién son estos olivos?

Jaén, levántate brava
sobre tus piedras lunares,
no vayas a ser esclava
con todos tus olivares.

Dentro de la claridad
del aceite y sus aromas,
indican tu libertad
la libertad de tus lomas.

From <;

And here is a You Tube link to Paco Ibanez singing the poem. Very evocative.

Everybody in the audience is singing along in this clip, demonstrating how well-known and well-loved is this text.

The Poetry Dude

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