Viva la (ilumi)nación Boricua

I live and work with Latinos from many different nations, but the overwhelming majority are Puerto Ricans. As a gringo who is interested in cultural history, I am furthering my knowledge of Puerto Rico bit by bit. I recently learned that there are 2 different anthems for the island of the Tainos known before Columbus as Borinquen. I present both to you today. First, the original lyrics from 1868 which are extremely militant. It was written as a revolutionary poem by Lola Rodríguez de Tió before the second, later version became official. The name of the anthem is La Borinqueña

¡Despierta, borinqueño
que han dado la señal!
¡Despierta de ese sueño
que es hora de luchar!
A ese llamar patriótico
¿no arde tu corazón?
¡Ven! Nos será simpático
el ruido del cañón.
Mira, ya el cubano
libre será;
le dará el machete
su libertad…
le dará el machete
su libertad.
Ya el tambor guerrero
dice en su son,
que es la manigua el sitio,
el sitio de la reunión,
de la reunión…
de la reunión.
El Grito de Lares
se ha de repetir,
y entonces sabremos
vencer o morir.
Bellísima Borinquén,
a Cuba hay que seguir;
tú tienes bravos hijos
que quieren combatir.
ya por más tiempo impávido
no podemos estar,
ya no queremos, tímidos
dejarnos subyugar.
Nosotros queremos
ser libre ya,
y nuestro machete
afilado está.
y nuestro machete
afilado está.
¿Por qué, entonces, nosotros
hemos de estar,
tan dormidos y sordos
y sordos a esa señal?
a esa señal, a esa señal?
No hay que temer, riqueños
al ruido del cañón,
que salvar a la patria
es deber del corazón!
ya no queremos déspotas,
caiga el tirano ya,
las mujeres indómitas
también sabrán luchar.
Nosotros queremos
la libertad,
y nuestros machetes
nos la darán…
y nuestro machete
nos la dará…
Vámonos, borinqueños,
vámonos ya,
que nos espera ansiosa,
ansiosa la libertad.
¡La libertad, la libertad!
Arise, Boricua! The call to arms has sounded!
Awake from the slumber, it is time to fight!
Doesn’t this patriotic call set your heart alight?
Come! We are in tune with the roar of the cannon.
Come, the Cuban will soon be free;
the machete will give him his liberty,
the machete will give him his liberty.
Now the war drum says with its sound,
that the countryside is the place of the meeting.
The Cry of Lares must be repeated, and then we will know:
victory or death.
Beautiful Borinquén must follow Cuba;
you have brave sons who wish to fight.
Now, no longer can we be unmoved;
now we do not want timidly to let them subjugate us.
We want to be free now, and our machete has been sharpened.
Why then have we been so sleepy and deaf to the call?
There is no need to fear, ‘Ricans, the roar of the cannon;
saving the nation is the duty of the heart.
We no longer want despots, tyranny shall fall now;
the unconquerable women also will know how to fight.
We want liberty, and our machetes will give it to us.
Come, Boricuas, come now, since freedom awaits us anxiously,
freedom, freedom!
We want Freedom,
And our machetes will give it to us …
And our machete will give it to us…
Come on, Borinquen, let’s go, Liberty awaits us anxiously,
Freedom, freedom!

The modern lyrics, from 1903 and made official in 1952 by Luis Muñoz Marín are toned-down and speak of tropical gardens and sunny beaches:

La tierra de Borinquen donde he nacido yo
es un jardín florido de mágico primor.
Un cielo siempre nítido le sirve de dosel
y dan arrullos plácidos las olas a sus pies.
Cuando a sus playas llegó Colón
exclamó lleno de admiración: “Oh!, oh!, oh!,
ésta es la linda tierra
que busco yo.”

Es Borinquen la hija,  la hija del mar y el sol,
del mar y el sol,
del mar y el sol, del mar y el sol, del mar y el sol.


The land of Borinquen where I was born
is a flowery garden
of magical beauty.

A constant clear sky serves as its canopy
and placid lullabies are sung by the waves at its feet.

When at her beaches Columbus arrived full of awe
he exclaimed,
“Oh!, oh!, oh!, this is the lovely land that I seek.”

Borinquen is the daughter, the daughter of the sea and the sun.
Of the sea and the sun, of the sea and the sun, of the sea and the sun, of the sea and the sun.

Somewhere between these 2 versions is the present day reality of PR.
This video is a cynical view of the current state of affairs…

Machetero image by Derek Santiago: www.riceandbeanz.net
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