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Santoña and his popular poetry

The magazine SANTOÑA, in its September 1963 edition, included an article written by the teacher of the "Manzanedo" secondary school on the popular poetry of Santoña, in which we can read part of the lyrics of the murga "los parrandistas" from 1934, "el Judgment en el fondo del mar" (the Judgment at the bottom of the sea).


 Santoña and his popular poetry

(Teacher at the "Manzanedo"Labor Institute ) 

Today the study of popular culture has become fashionable all over the world, and the sayings, songs, romances, games, festivals and merriment of the people are collected with great interest. Folklore wins supporters from day to day.
Ace! as all the feelings of a people are contained in their verses, all their thinking is condensed and crystallized in their sayings, which can be considered as the first and simplest manifestation of popular art. In Santoña the most abundant are the meteorological ones and it seems natural that this is the case in a fishing village. What else can worry these men who live in the sea and the sea? We will point out a few examples below:

"When the Buciero puts on his hat, he
takes the umbrella that comes downpour.
When the Buciero puts on a cap,
water is expected"

"Fog in Escalante,
Terral in the bay
signal of a good day.
Fog in Buciero,
Terral in the bay
signal of a bad day"


The Terral is the South wind, enemy in the winter mornings of the seafarers of this region. Many anecdotes are told about him, but none as significant as the following: A sailor from Santoña, about to die, asked for a confessor. His relatives brought him one from the Montehano monastery. The fisherman confessed and before giving him absolution, the Father asked him: My son, do you forgive your enemies with all your heart? To which the dying man replied: Yes, Father, to all, except one, to the Terral that has killed me.
 Amos de Escalante says that "there is no traveling swallow or blast of air that flies and runs what runs and flies a town song." The people, sometimes, invent and transform the verses better than the learned poets. When I was a child, I heard many times the girls of San Vicente de Toranzo sing:

"My charcoal burner, mother,
has a knack;
with charcoal and cisco he
makes the bed.
What a grace,
what a salt shaker,
what, mother,
my charcoal burner has"

that in Santoña sing like this:

"My sailor, mother,
has a knack;
with the sail and the oar he
makes the bed.
What a grace, what a salt shaker,
what has, mother, 
my sailor have"

  In the mountains people sing a lot and at all hours, how could the sailors of Santoña not do it, the happiest people with the greatest sense of humor that we have ever known?
 Proof of this are the songs that we have collected in a short time, thanks to the kindness of the fishermen who attended the night classes of the Middle School of Fishing at the Labor Institute. But we would be unfair if we did not make special mention of a popular fisherman from this town called the «Ñé», famous not only for his singular wit, humor and sympathy, but also for his prodigious memory. The "Né" is a true mine in ancient and modern songs.
 Of these songs, some are religious and are dedicated to the Virgin of the Port whose image, according to tradition by all admitted, accompanied Columbus in the discovery of the New World and are a sign of the affection that the sailors and the entire town of Santoña profess for him.
 Formerly it was customary for fishermen to line up the mouth of the port to entrust themselves to her singing the Salve. Today this has disappeared, but they still sing fervent tunes to him: 

"Sailors of Santoña,
when you go out to sea,
all pray to the Virgin
that She will save you"

Others are songs that fragmentarily enclose the history of the region. They tell us how the old Santoñeses fortified and fought; who were the sailors who made him famous; what fruits were exported abroad; which were the new constructions of the Villa and even the "piques" among the neighboring towns for wanting to have the most salty and beautiful mozucas of the Seven Villas:

"For oranges, Colindres,
for lemons, Laredo,
for mozucas, Santoña,
and for studies, Carriedo


"Cádiz, Santoña,
Gibraltar and Figueras
the first four in strength"

"They are already building
the road bridges
and a machine in the north
that is worthless"

Many are songs of love, like this one in which an allusion is made to an ancient custom of dismissing sailors who went out to sea in rowing boats along the breakwater, until they disappeared from sight behind the mountain where the fort of San Carlos is located:

"As we passed through San Carlos
towards the coast,
I saw a
sad and crying Santoñesuca
on a rock.
I saw her crying
and I said, who are you sighing for?
Because my sailor
has gone fishing and I'm crying 

  Some songs are humorous, sometimes true models of maritime irony and constitute the sparkling criticism of the Villa. It seems that many were written at the end of the last century by a fisherman called «Uñitas» notable in the genre. He owes this very curious song that is interested in referring to almost all the fish in the Santoña market, which he cites by their respective local names and which he pompously titled "Judgment at the bottom of the sea", and whose subject It is the lawsuit held at the bottom of the sea when a mermaid was kidnapped by a sea bream in love:

Neptune, god of the seas,
deeply disappointed in
the matter, has entrusted
a green man who is a "lawyer."
From the most "tiny" fish
to the most cunning gnat
will give a statement.
Apparently an illustrious safeguard 
who is thorny and "literate" 
has been in charge 
of the defense of the prisoner .

Two thousand three hundred sea bass, 
commanded by a Luciato, 
armed with carbines, 
will form in that act. 
Two active soles and an elegant pajel 
are entrusted with the functions of janitor .

The porretanos and barbels
of the jury will act
and the defendant with their
acquittals will declare.

Speech by the President:

"And by strict order
of the dolphin to the slimy
statement they will make:
toads, squid,
cuttlefish, trout,
relaunches, luciatos, cuttlefish and mullets. Groupers
, turbot, julia,
red mullet and scorpionfish,
hake, bocarte, tench,
conger eel, whale and escachos.
Sardines, taurons,
porretanos, chaparrudos,
scrapie, sharks,
durdos and durdos "
A caila and a cailón, 
two llampas and an abacanth, 
sea ​​crabs and muergos, 
dogfish, trout and lobsters, 
tacotas, carps and oysters will also appear
to give a statement . 
And if the court makes a complaint 
in a very formal way, 
the clam will resolve it.

  We must therefore, as the famous mountaineer Menéndez Pelayo says "to make love for the glories of our province, our people and our neighborhood grow in us, the only means of making love for the glories of our country fruitful and profitable"

Source: Santoña Magazine September 1963