L’estaca, which means the “stake” in Catalan, is a famous Catalan song. It was released in 1968 during the Francoist era in Spain. Lluis Llach wrote it and decided to use a metaphor (a rope attached to a stake) to make people aware of the power of freedom and collectiveness against censorship and dictatorship. At the time, Spain was experiencing social unrest. In 1967, students and workers demonstrated to protest against Franco’s dictatorship. The opposition became stronger and stronger and one year later, Lluis Llach supported the movement through this song. Due to the censorship that existed at the time, the song would probably not have been released had it not been for the metaphor of the stake, as nobody was allowed to directly criticize the government.
The lyrics underline the power of collectiveness. Grandfather Siset insists in putting all strengths together to break free from the stake. Siset states that the effort will not be easy and injury will probably occur. However, all together, the stake will finally fall and they will be free again. In other words, the more we are and the more we demonstrate, the better our chances are to be free.
Today, you can hear the song in many of our local and traditional festivities. It remains a strong Catalan symbol. For instance, it became the official hymn of USAP, the local rugby union team. It is sung before each game. Below are the lyrics translated into English. Enjoy the live concert done in Barcelona in 1985… (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4g_Og3EiUM )
Lyrics: L’estaca (The Stake)
L’avi Siset em parlava The old Siset talked to me De bon mati al portal in the morning under the porch Mentre el sol esperavem while we waited for the sun I els carros veiem passar and watched the carts pass by. Siset, que no veus l’estaca Siset, don’t you see the stake On estem tots lligats ? to which we are all tied? Si no podem desfer-nos-en If we cannot break free from it, Mai no podrem caminar ! then we can never escape! [Refrany] [Chorus] Si estirem tots, ella caurà If we all pull, it will fall I molt de temps no pot durar and it will not last for long, Segur que tomba, tomba, tomba It’s sure to fall, fall, fall, Ben corcada deu ser ja. It should already be rotten. Si tu l’estires fort per acqui If you pull hard here, I jo l’estiro fort per alla and I pull hard there, Segur que tomba, tomba, tomba, It’s sure to fall, fall, fall, I ens podrem alliberar. and we can liberate ourselves. Pero Siset fa molt temps ja But, Siset, so much time has passed, Les mans se’m van escorxant ! my hands are being flayed ! I quan la força se me’n va While my strength is fading, Ella és més ample i més gran. It looks wider and bigger. Ben cert sé que està podrida, I know it’s rotten, of course, Pero és que, Siset, costa tant ! but, Siset, it is also so heavy Que a cops la força m’oblida that sometimes my strength leaves me Tornem a dir el teu cant : Tell me your song again. [Refrany] [Chorus] L’avi Siset ja no diu res The old Siset said nothing anymore. Mal vent que se’l va emportar A bad wind came about Ell qui sap cap a quin indret – only he knows where to – I jo a sota el portal and I remain under the porch. I quan passem els nous vailets And while other people passed by, Estiro el col per cantar I raise my head to sing El darrer cant d’en Siset, the last song of Siset, Lo darrer que em va ensenyar the last he taught me.