There is no doubt that this song comes from Turkey, since some of the lyrics are Turkish. While Ladino is basically a Spanish/Portuguese dialect that linguists describe as having distinct similarities to 16th century Spanish, it is not unusual to find words from other languages mixed in. Often that language is Hebrew, but here we have the Turkish “gul pembe,” (Pink Rose) and “Ne bu guzellik pembe,” (What kind of beauty is this that you have!). The song appears in Levy’s Book 1, which is the only volume of four that does not include the songs’ origins. There are excellent recordings of this song by Isaac Asoze, whose parents emigrated from Turkey in the early 20th century and settled in Seattle, a major destination for Turkish Sephardic immigrants; and by Los Pasharos Sephardies, the Istanbul-based Sephardic ensemble.

Susan, vocals; Tina, Renaissance violin; Howard, lute; Brian, frame drum.

Por la tu puerta yo pasi
While passing by in front of your door
Te vide asentada I saw you sitting;
La yavedura yo bezi I would kiss the big lock (on your door)
Komo bezar tu kara. Like kissing a beloved’s cheek
Aman aman gül pembe Oh my… my, Pink Rose,
Gül pembe Pink Rose,
Ne bu güzellik sende (2x) What kind of a beauty is this you have? (2x)
No t’enyeges ke te bezi Don’t ever deny that I kissed you,
Te tengo i abrasado You have been mine,so full of kisses and embraces,
Komo el dukado en el sarraf As if you were a golden coin of a moneychanger
Te tengo kulayeando. I gilded you so slowly.
Aman aman… Oh my…my, Pink Rose
Ojos pretos tiyenes tu Your eyes are jet black,
Por los mavis me muero I’m dying in their all blue;
Kuando veyo los verdulis When I see a little greenish hue in them
Kavo foya i m’entero I would dig a pit and then buried myself in them.
Aman, aman… Oh my…my, Pink Rose