All posts for the day March 13th, 2013


Published March 13, 2013 by Tony


I do not think exist a people and a culture that does not have their own lullabies or nursery-rhymes, and since only few of them have a contemporary origin, we often must look to the past and find those created by our ancestors, those transmitted by our grandmothers, or that perhaps we ourselves played when were children.
In the past, lullabies and nursery rhymes were much in vogue and represented the essence of a wise, funny and jeering culture handed down from mother to son and that over time has become a popular culture’s wealth.
This unique literary genre found fertile ground in the ancient Neapolitan folklore that gave birth to many lullabies, nursery rhymes, tongue twisters, spells or spiteful-rhymes, that sometimes represented a daily “lived in”, and although at the beginning they were only transmitted orally, now fortunately is still possible to trace many of them around.
Here, I will mention the most famous texts, and to the extent possible, also will grapple with an almost-impossible translation into English (an acceptable literal translation, though the rhymes will inevitably be lost!), hoping that fans of this genre will appreciate my effort.


Vòca vòca mastu ciccio
nà panèlla e na sasiccia
à panèlla c’ ‘a  magnamme e a sasiccia c’ ‘a stipamme
Voca voca marenaro
quanti pisci vanno a mare
vanno a mare a la marina
voca voca nenna mia
Row, row Master Ciccio
a (piece of) bread and a sausage
we eat the bread and
will store the sausage
Row, row seaman
how many fish are in the sea
go into the sea in the marine
row row my child
E fa la nonna e fa la nunnarèlla,
ca ‘o lupo s’ha mangiato ‘a pecurella.
E pecurella mia comme farraje,
quanno mocca a lu lupo te truvarraje?
E pecurella mia comme faciste,
quanno mmocca a lu lupo te truvaste?
E pecurella mia comme campaste,
quanno mmocca a lu lupo te truvaste?
And have you a lullaby and sleep,
that the wolf ate the sheep.
And my lil sheep how will you do,
when you’ll be in the wolf’s mouth?
And how did you do my lil lamb,
when you were in the wolf’s mouth?
And my lil lamb how did you survive,
when you were in the wolf’s mouth?
Nonna nonna,
nonna vo’ fa’ chesta nenna bella,
nonna vo’ fa’ mo’ ch’è piccerella,
che quann’è grossa s’addurmenti sulella
E nonna nonna, chè la nonna è bona,
li pare tuoie dòrmen’ a lu lietto,
sola ’sta nenna nun trov’ arricietto
Lullaby, lullaby
sleep (is what this) cute baby wants,
sleep (is what) this lil girl wants to do,
who when older will sleep all alone
And lullaby ’cause sleeping is good,
your peers are sleeping in the bed,
only this child is not finding peace
Nonna nonna.
Quanno sant’Anna cantav’ a Maria,
quante belle canzone le diceva!
E le diceva: adduòrmete, Maria.
Maria ch’era santa s’addurmeva;
e le diceva: adduòrmete, Dunzella,
tu si’ ‘a mamma de li virginelle ; e le diceva: adduòrmete, Signora,
tu si’ ‘a mamma de lu Salvatore;
e le diceva: adduòrmete, Regina,
tu si’ la mamma de Gesù Bambino!
when Santa Anna sang to Mary,
how many beautiful songs she sang!
And she said her: Mary asleep
Mary who was a saint fell asleep
and she said her: Damsel asleep
you are young virgins’ mother
and she said her: Ma’am asleep
you are Savior’s mother
and she said her: Queen asleep,
you are Christ Child’s mother!
 Oh! la nonna, nonnarella,
’sta figlia mia se fa i suonne belle;
se fa i suonne che se facette Maria,
cu l’ uocchie chiusi e cu ‘a mente a Dio.
Cu l’ uocchie chiusi e cu ‘a mente ai Santi
’sta figlia mia pozza crescere santa!
Oh sleep, lullaby,
this my daughter has good dreams;
dreaming the dreams that Mary did,
with closed eyes and mind to God
with closed eyes and mind to Saints,
may my daughter grow (as a) saint!
Vieni suonno e vieni chiano chiano
cu ‘a lanterna e lu bastone ‘n mano.
Vieni suonno e vieni ra lo monte
co’ na palloccia d’oro e rare n’ fronte.
rare n’ fronte e mo’ re nce fa male
nun tengo pezze pe la mmerecare.
Vieni suonno e vieni ca t’aspetto
Come Maria aspetta Giuseppe.
San Giuseppe mio vicchiariello
porta lo suonno sotto ‘o mantello.
Vieni suonno e vieni e non tardare
sta figlia se vole riposare.
Come lullaby and comes slowly, slowly
with lantern and a walking stick in hand.
Come slumber and come from mountain
with a gold ball and throw it on the forehead. T
hrow it on the forehead and without harming. I don’t have rags to medicate. Come slumber, comes that I wait for you. Like Mary expects Joseph.
Saint Joseph my old man
bears the sleep under the cloak.
Come slumber, come, don’t delay
this daughter (child) wants to rest.
Nonna, nonna, nonna nunnarellòooo
Tutte so’ brutte e ‘stu figliu mio è bello
‘stu figliu mio è malo ‘mparato,
e nun s’addorme si nun è cantato,
nun è cantato da li belle donne,
stu figliu mio bello mo’ s’addorme.
Nonna, nonna, nonna nunnarellòooo
all are ugly and this my child is beautiful
this child of mine is not educated,
and doesn’t fall asleep if it’s not sung,
if to singing aren’t beautiful women,
now this cute baby of mine will sleep.

Nursery Rhymes, Tongue Twisters, Spells

A farfallina rossa me murzecate ‘o musso
nu poco e vino russo me fatte ‘mbriaca’
mannaggia cca, mannaggia lla’
mannaggia a lettera e papa’
nu pare e zucculillo
na rosa inde e capilline’
guaglio’ che guarda a fa’
je a mossa a saccio fa!

A lil red butterfly, you bit my lip
a little red wine made ​​me drunk
damn here, damn there
damn the dad’s letter
you look like a rat
a rose in the hair, boy why you look at me
I know how to do the move!

Ce steve ‘na vota
‘nu viecchie e ‘na vecchia
stevene e casa areto a ‘nu specchio,
stevene e casa areto a ‘nu monte…
statte zitte che mò tu conte.
E tu conte dint’ ‘a tiana,
mammeta e patete i ruffiani.

Once Upon a Time
an old man and woman
were standing at home behind a mirror,
were at home behind a mount …
shut up now this is the story.
And I’ll tell you it in the pot,
your mom and dad bootlicker.

Cicerenella teneva no gallo
tutta la notte nce jeva a cavallo,
essa nce jeva pò senza la sella
chisto è lo gallo de Cicerenella.
Cicerenella tenea na gallina
faceva ll’ova de sera e matina,
l’avea mparata a magnà farenella
chesta è ‘a gallina de Cicerenella
Cicerenella had a cock
all night she rode on it,
she did it without the saddle
this is the cock of Cicerenella.
Cicerenella had a chicken
laid eggs in the evening and morning,
she had learned it to eat the corn
this is the hen of Cicerenella
Storta picòscia,
tiene ‘e coscie mosce mosce,
e sotto ‘o suttanìno,
tiene ‘o scoglio ‘e Margellina.
Crooked bowlegged
you’ve legs limp limp
and under the slip,
have the Mergellina’s cliff.
‘A gallina zoppa zoppa,
quanti penne tene ncoppa?
E ne tene vintitrè,
uno, doje e tre.
E teneva nu turnesièllo,
e s’accattàje nu susamièllo;
mièzo a me, mièzo a te,
mièzo a’ figlia d’ ‘o Re!
The hen lame lame
how many quills gets on?
It has twenty-three,
one, two and three.
And had a coin,
and bought a cookie
half to me, half to you,
half to the daughter of the King!
Chiòve e ghièsce ‘o sole,
tutte ‘e vecchie fanno ammore;
fanno ammore cu ‘a tiàna,
tutte ‘e vecchie so’ ruffiàne;
fanno ammore ‘inte ‘o ciardino,
tutte ‘e vecchie malandrìne
It’s raining and sun comes out,
all old women make love;
make love with the pot,
all the old are pandering;
make love in the garden
all the naughty old
Fieto, fietillo,
chi l’ha fatto ‘o peretillo?
‘o peretillo è gghiuto all’uòrto,
e chi fete ‘e cane muòrto?
Stink, small stink,
who did the fart?
the little fart went in the vegetable patch,
and who stinks like a dead dog?
Nuvena, nuvena,
ca màmmeta è prena
ha fatto nu figlio
e se chiamma Michele,
e tene na figlia
c’addora ‘e tabacco
e quanno cammina
l’abbàllano ‘e pacche.
Novena, novena,
your mom is pregnant
gave birth a child
and his name is Michele,
and has a daughter
who smells of tobacco
and when she walks
dance her butt
Quanno mammeta fa ‘a cazetta,
‘o mazzarièllo addò s’ ‘o mette ?
Si s’ ‘o mette areto a ‘e rine,
fa ‘a cazetta p ‘e pellerìne;
si s’ ‘o mette areta ‘a porta,
fa ‘a cazetta p ‘ ‘ o guardaporta;
si s’ ‘o mette dinte ‘o lato,
fa ‘a cazetta p ‘ ‘o nnammurato;
si s’ ‘o mette ‘inte ‘a cintura,
fa ‘a cazetta p ‘ ‘a criatura;
si s’ ‘o mette sotto ‘o core,
fa ‘a cazetta p ‘ ‘o cunfessore.
When your mom knits the sock,
where does she put the stick?
If puts it behind her
knits the sock for the pilgrim;
If puts it behind the door
knits the sock for the doorman
if puts it on the side,
knits the sock for the lover
if puts it under the belt,
knits the sock for the unborn
if puts it under the heart,
knits the sock for the clergyman
Sbatte ‘e mmane ca vene papà,
porta ‘o zucchero e ‘o baba’
nuje ‘o mettimmo a cucenà
e ‘o nennillo s’ ‘o va a magnà…
Blink your hands that now dad comes,
brings sugar and babà
we put it to cook
and the child goes to eat it
Dimane è festa, e’ o sorice ‘nfenesta,
a jatta cucina e o’ sorice mett’o vino,
mett’o vvin’a carafelle, e o’ pane
a felle, a felle
Tomorrow is holiday, the rat comes by window, the cat cooks, and the rat pours the wine, put the wine in jugs, and bread
sliced​​, sliced

E sarde se magnane alice,
l’uocchi tuoi so doie curnice
si saglie n’coppa mammeta che me dice?

Sardines eat anchovies,
your eyes are two frames
if I come to you, what your mom tells me?

Aiza, aiza, aiza
acala acala acala
accosta accosta accosta
â saluta nosta

Lift up, lift up, lift up
turn down, turn down, turn down
put close, put close, put close
to our health
Carùso, mellùso,
miette ‘a capa ‘int’a ‘o pertùso,
e vene ‘o scarrafòne
e te ròseca ‘o mellòne.
bald, melon-like
put your head in the hole
and get the roach
and gnaws the melon.
Munzù, munzù, munzù,
è gghjuta ‘a zoccola ‘int’a ‘o rraù.
‘A signora nun ‘o vo’ cchiù,
magnatillo tutto tu.
Munzù, munzù, munzù,
a rat went to finish in the ragù
the Ma’am does not want it more
eat you it all.
Dinte a chesta manèlla,
nce stev na vòta na funtanèlla,
venèven a bere ‘e paparelle…
piu, piu, piu…
Inside this little hand
once there was a small fountain
came to drink the little duckies …
cheep, cheep cheep …
Sennuzzo, va `o puzzo
va a mare
va add’a cummare
vide che te dice
e vienamello `a dicere.
Hiccups, goes to the well
goes to sea
goes from godmother
hear what she says
and come to say it to me