Por lo que el burro tocó la flauta. Posted by on Jun 14, 2011 in Spanish Culture

Desde pequeña, cuando conseguía realizar alguna tarea de forma inesperada, siempre recibía la misma respuesta algo irónica de mi madre: “Te habrá salido por lo que el burro tocó la flauta.” El no saber si lo decía como halago, o con sorna, me llevó a investigar de qué burro se trataba.

De esta forma llegué a conocer las fábulas de Tomás de Iriarte.  Escritor español, nacido a mediados del siglo XVIII, fue uno de los fabulistas más famosos del momento. Crítico y polemista, figura constante en las tertulias sociales y literarias, fue amigo de escritores como José Cadalso y Nicolás Fernandez de Moratín. En sus “Fábulas literarias”, publicadas en 1782, recogió una serie de poemas satíricos, algunos como burla a la sociedad de su tiempo, y todos con una didáctica moraleja final.

Y sin más introducción, os dejo con la mencionada fabulilla del burro flautista. ¿Pensáis que las cosas ocurren… por casualidad? Lo que sí es cierto es que mi madre me tomaba el pelo.


Esta fabulilla,
salga bien o mal,
me ha ocurrido ahora
por casualidad.

Cerca de unos prados
que hay en mi lugar,
pasaba un borrico
por casualidad.

Una flauta en ellos
halló, que un zagal
se dejó olvidada
por casualidad.

Acercóse a olerla
el dicho animal,
y dio un resoplido
por casualidad.

En la flauta el aire
se hubo de colar,
y sonó la flauta
por casualidad.

«iOh!», dijo el borrico,
«¡qué bien sé tocar!
¡y dirán que es mala
la música asnal!»

Sin regla del arte,
borriquitos hay
que una vez aciertan
por casualidad.

Since I was a child, whenever I got a task done in an unexpected way, I always received the same slightly ironic response from my mother: “It must have happened as the donkey played the flute.”  Not knowing whether she was saying it as praise, or sarcastically, it drove me to investigate which donkey she was talking about.

This is how I got to know Tomas de Iriarte’s fables. This Spanish writer born in the middle of the 18th century was one of the most famous fabulists of the moment. Critic and debater, he was a constant figure in the social and literary gatherings, and friend of writers such as Jose Cadalso and Nicolas Fernandez de Moratin. In his “Literary fables “, published in 1782, he gathered a series of satirical poems, some of them as derision to society, and all of them with a didactic final moral.

And with no further introductions, I’ll leave you with the mentioned fable about the flute-playing donkey. Do you think that things happen… accidentally? What is really true is that my mum was making fun of me.

The Ass and the Flute

This little fable heard,
It good or ill may be;
But it has just occurred
Thus accidentally.

Passing my abode,
Some fields adjoining me
A big ass on his road
Came accidentally.

And laid upon the spot,
A Flute he chanced to see,
Some shepherd had forgot
There accidentally.

The animal in front
To scan it nigh came he,
And snuffing loud as wont,
Blew accidentally.

The air it chanced around
The pipe went passing free
And thus the Flute a sound
Gave accidentally.

“O then,” exclaimed the Ass,
“I know to play it fine;
And who for bad shall class
This music asinine?”

Without the rules of art,
Even asses, we agree,
May once succeed in part,
Thus accidentally.

—James Kennedy (translator)

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About the Author: Magda

Hi all! I’m Magda, a Spanish native speaker writing the culture posts in the Transparent Language Spanish blog. I have a Bachelor’s in English Philology and a Master’s in Linguistics and Literature from the University of Granada, in Spain. I have also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and then worked as an English teacher in several schools and academies for several years. Last year was my first at university level. In addition, I work as a private tutor, teaching English and Spanish as a foreign language to students and adults. In my free time, I’m an avid reader and writer, editing and collaborating in several literary blogs. I have published my first poetry book recently. And last but not least, I love photography!