A Poem of Joy for Children

This poetic story is for Audio Assignments454, Poetry Reading. For decades now, I have remembered a children’s poem from my high school Spanish class that I know as Aserin, Aseran, Los Maderos de San Juan. I would recite it intact to my Spanish-speaking friends and they would smile nicely and tell me that it basically is nonsensical. Finally with the internet, I found that some word were proper names and that it all depended on where you were from–context determined whether it would make sense to you. And maybe my accent on some syllables. What I didn’t know and just discovered, was that I was taught just the first stanza, which is also repeated throughout the poem like a chorus. One person credited for the long poem, Jose Asuncion Silva, was from Bogota, Colombia, and lived only 30 years from 1865-1895.

I learned that the first lyrical, rhythmic portions of the poem are used in children’s songs to delight them and to play games, so this poem is useful for fun and joy (there’s my…wait for it….Bob Ross reference). Check out this children’s video on YouTube called Aserrin Aserran los Maderos de San Juan. It’s an animation for children with a lot of cheese eating and wine drinking after cute animals chop down a tree–I think the squirrels get drunk on wine–they sure are happy and swaying around in what looks like a drinking game!

I found that Los Maderos de San Juan translates to The Woodsmen of San Juan and is credited to Jose Asuncion Silva. As the title, Aserin, Aseran, it also enjoys many variations but without attribution in other Spanish-speaking countries/cultures.

I chose this assignment because it was about reading a poem aloud. Immediately, this poem came to me and I thought it would be fun to do. I recorded directly to Audacity, and extended it with a story at the end about how I have remembered this story since the 1970s, yet I can hardly remember anything else from two and a half years of Spanish classes. Then I uploaded the WAV file to SoundCloud and embedded it to this blog using Copy Editor. I also did some research to find out more about the poem to give the story further context and depth.

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