La llorona (The Weeping Woman)

The third movement of Un Dulcito (i.e., "A Little Latin American Sweet"), my suite for string orchestra (also available as a duo for violin and cello), is a chaconne-like setting of the Mexican folk song, La llorona, combined with the Latin hymn from the mass for the dead, the Dies irae.
Un Dulcito. 3. La llorona (for strings) by Edward Lein
The legend of the Weeping Woman (more of a ghost story really) varies throughout Latin America, and there are even some American versions of the tale (including one set in Kansas City). Essentially, a beautiful woman sets her sites on a wealthy man, but he rejects her because he doesn't want to be saddled with her several children. She decides she really, really wants the man, so she drowns her children--in some versions the man rejects her again, horrified by her monstrous behavior; and in others she is overcome by remorse and grief at what she has done. In all versions, she ends up drowning herself, and her spirit is doomed to wander the waterways in search of her children, tearfully wailing throughout eternity. (The story usually ends as a cautionary tale for other children--behave and don't venture near the water or La Llorona ["la yah-ROHN-nah"] may mistake you for one of her own children and pull you beneath the waves!)

There are a number of different versions of lyrics for the tune, which mostly seem to have very little to do with the legend.
 
Here are five selected verses in English versions (i.e., not entirely literal translations, c2009-2015, E. Lein) by me: 
La llorona
 
Todos me dicen el negro, llorona,
negro pero cariñoso.
Yo soy como el chile verde, llorona
picante pero sabroso.
 
 
Dicen que no tengo duelo, llorona
porque no me ven llorar.
Hay muertos que no hacen ruido, llorona
y es mas grande su penar.
 
Ay de mi, llorona, llorona,
Llévame al río.
Tápame con tu rebozo, llorona
Porque me muero de frío.
 
Si al cielo subir pudiera, llorona,
Las estrellas te bajara.
La luna a tus pies pusiera, llorona,
Con el sol te coronara.
 
A un Santo Cristo de fierro, llorona,
Mis penas le conté yo.
Cuales no serían mis penas, llorona,
Que el Santo Cristo lloró.


 
NOTE: I found these recordings on YouTube, but I didn't have anything to do with them...
The Weeping Woman
 
They all call me the somber one, Llorona,
somber, yet tender-hearted still.
*Though I burn, like jalapeños, Llorona,
there's sweetness when you take your fill.
(*literally: "I am like the green chile, Llorona,
                 Burning hot yet delectable.")
 
They think I don't feel the pain, Llorona,
because they can't see me cry.
But even the dead are tearless, Llorona,
and their sorrow is greater than mine.
 
O pity me, Llorona, Llorona,
and down to the river let's go.
Hold me closely inside your shawl, Llorona,
for I think I shall die in the cold.
 
If the heavens above were mine, Llorona,
for you I’d pull all the stars down.
I’d place the moon there at your feet, Llorona,
and take the sun’s rays for your crown.

To a Savior who bore the world's pain, Llorona,
I confided my horrible grief.
But my sorrowful suffering was such, Llorona,
that it made even Jesus weep.
.
  

YouTube Video: Lila Downs sings 'La llorona'

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