Lullaby – Costa Rica

Lullaby – Costa Rica

“Los Pollitos Dicen”

“The Little Chicks Say”

Verse 1:

Los pollitos dicen pío, pío, pío

The little chicks they say pio pio pio

The little chicks say, “cheep, cheep, cheep,”

Cuando tienen hambre, cuando tienen frío.

When they have hunger, when they have cold

When they are hungry, when they are cold

Verse 2: (same melody)

La gallina busca el maíz y el trigo

The mother hen looks for the corn and the wheat

The mother hen looks for corn and wheat

les da la comida y les presta abrigo.

To them give the food and to them grant shelter

She gives them food and grants them shelter.

Verse 3: (same melody)

Bajo de sus alas, acurrucaditos

Under of her wings, huddling up,

Under mama’s wings, huddling up,

¡duermen los pollitos hasta el otro día!

Sleep the little chicks until the other day!

The little chicks sleep until the next day!

This is a Costa Rican nursery rhyme that Natalia’s mother used to sing to her when Natalia was a little girl. Whenever she was frightened about something or had a hard time going to sleep, Natalia would curl up on her mother’s lap as her mother whispered this song into her ear. She recalls falling asleep on her mother’s lap on several occasions while hearing this nursery rhyme. The words are very comforting to a young child, as they explain the comfort one can find under a mother’s wings.  She also explained that her grandmother would sing this lullaby to her mother when her mother was a toddler. Thus, Natalia hopes to preserve this family tradition as she teaches this lullaby to her own kids someday.

The lyrics of this nursery rhyme illustrate the unconditional and unyielding love that a mother has for her children, further highlighting the importance of maternal care in the Costa Rican culture. This rhyme begins with the sound of crying chicks that are hungry and cold, symbolizing the cries of children who need to be taken care of. Then, the mother hen actively searches for food and shelter, allowing the chicks to gather up under her wings and sleep. This is analogous to the amount of work mothers are willing to perform for the comfort of their children, and the complete protection that a mother desires to provide her children with. The fact that this nursery rhyme is presented to children usually by their mothers is a testament to the amount of self-sacrificial love that Costa Rican mothers have for their children.

A slightly different, but very similar, version of this lullaby was found in The Book of Lullabies, compiled by John M. Feierabend. Verse 1 and 2 of both Natalia’s version and the published version are identical. However, Verse 3 of the printed version states, “Bajo sus dos alas, acurrucaditos, cuando tienen suerio, duermen los pollitos,” rather than Natalia’s version which states, “Bajo de sus alas, acurrucaditos. ¡Duermen los pollitos hasta el otro día!” According to Feierabend, the published version is translated as “Under [the chick’s] wings, folded up, when they are sleepy, the chicks sleep.” This version of Verse 3 is not as potent and hopeful as the version that Natalia’s mother had sung to Natalia: “Under mama’s wings, huddling up, the little chicks sleep until the next day!” Although he does not state where or when he collected this piece of folklore, Feierabend states that lullabies are the root of all sung music, and “certainly one of the loveliest ways of showing a child how deeply you feel for him or her.” [1]

[1] Annotation: Feierabend, John M., comp. The Book of Lullabies. Chicago: GIA Publications, Inc., 2000. 66.