A Lesson Too Late In The Learning:  Write It or Regret It


Recently at the California Writers Club, a fellow poet and guest speaker, Deborah Edler Brown, advised:

“At the moment of inspiration, record it. Don’t wait! For it’s like babies lost you can never retrieve if you don’t record your inspiration when it comes.”

If only I had realized that wisdom twenty years ago while I was teaching bilingual education. For then I so wished I had an English translation of the well-known Spanish children’s folk song, De Colores. But I did not have time to work out one.

It’s not easy to keep a song lyrical and with rhyme when translating it from one language to another — especially if you want to keep the same music and rhythm.

However, one morning I awoke and there before me, like a dream, was a beautiful English translation of this song! Not appreciating enough the gift of inspiration I had just received, I continued to do pressing chores for a few hours.

By the time I sat down to record the lyrics, to my dismay around one-third of these inspired words had disappeared from my memory forever.

Being a poet, I was able to work out fill-in words and lines to replace those lost. But they are not as gratifying nor satisfying as the full version I had been inspired with, then inadvertently lost.

Nonetheless, the translation I do have is better than any other English translation of this song I have since found online or on YouTube.

I will present the 16th-century Spanish traditional song first, followed by my inspired English translation:


De Colores

1- De Colores, de colores se visten

Los campos en la primavera;

De colores, de colores son los pajaritos

Que vienen de afuera;

De colores, de colores es el arco iris

Que vemos lucir:


Y por eso los grandes amores

De muchos colores

Me gustan a mi.  (Repeat)

2- Canta el gallo, canta el gallo con

El quiri-quiri-quiri-quiri-quiri,

La gallina, la gallina con el


Los polluelos, los polluelos con

El pio-pio-pio-pio-pi!


* Painted spring

(My inspired version of “De Colores”)                

1- In the springtime in the valleys

The countryside glistens with pallets of color;

In the springtime in the meadows

The birds fill the air with their beautiful color;

In the springtime comes the arch of the rainbow

And spreads its grand hues from afar!


And this is the reason I love the spring season:

There’s splendorous color to see —

Yes, this is the reason this beautiful season

Brings such joy and pleasure to me!

2- In the barnyard in the morning

The red rooster crows,“How do you do?”

In the hen coop in the daytime

The white hens announce every egg that is new;

In the garden in the sunshine the yellow chicks

Scratch through the flowers and dew.

(back to chorus)

  • Thanks to my creative cousin Jessica LeBaron for coming up with a perfect title for my song! 🙂

  • * NOTE: Music to “De Colores,” and my take-off from it, can be found under “De Colores” on YouTube.)

5 thoughts on “My Song “Painted Spring:” A Take-off from the Spanish Traditional Song “De Colores”

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