07 Nov 2019

The musical poetry of Sensemayá

by Kathleen Sykes

Have you ever heard a poem or piece of literature that sounded like it should be a song? This is exactly what happened with Silvestre Revueltas’ famed composition Sensemayá. It’s inspired by the poem of the same name by Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén.

The poem itself is sub-titled “Chant to kill a snake,” and paints the picture of an Afro-Cuban ritualistic killing of a snake. But this poem is not meant to be read, it’s meant to be listened to. In the video below, you can listen to the poet reading the work aloud—it has a complex rhythm and sounds musical.

(You can read the poem in English and Spanish here.)

You can hear the same mysterious moods and tense rhythms in the work by Revueltas.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear this masterwork live! Get your tickets to see it conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto here.