poetry

All posts tagged poetry

A POEM

Published March 26, 2013 by Tony

Eduardo De Filippo

Eduardo De Filippo was and will be remembered as a great actor of theater and cinema, but not everyone knows that, in addition to being a great playwright, he has also written numerous poems. I’m going to propose you the one entitled “Pensieri Miei” (My Thoughts or I think it should be more suitable to translate as Thoughts of mine), and even daring to translate it into English.
It’s a poem about our “thoughts” that, as Eduardo says, they often do not have the courage to come out intact (nude), like they are born. And even if they would do, at cost of their life, then there will be always someone who tries to “cover” them. You will certainly understand that it is a metaphor.

THOUGHTS OF MINE

Penziere mieje, levàteve sti panne,
stracciàtev’ ‘a cammisa, e ascite annuro.
Si nun tenite n’abito sicuro,
tanta vestite che n’avit’ ‘a fa?
Menàteve spugliate mmiez’ ‘a via,
e si facite folla, cammenate.
Si sentite strillà, nun ve fermate:
nu penziero spugliato ‘a folla fa.
Currite ncopp’ ‘a cimma ‘e na muntagna,
e quanno ‘e piede se sò cunzumate:
un’ànema e curaggio, e ve menate…
nzerrano ll’uocchie, primm’ ‘e ve menà!
Ca ve trovano annuro? Nun fa niente.
Ce sta sempe nu tizio canusciuto,
ca nun ‘o ddice… ca rimmane muto…
e ca ve veste, primm’ ‘e v’atterrà.
Thoughts of mine, take off your clothes
tear the shirt and outputs naked.
If you do not keep a precise dress,
why do you have so many clothes?
Go stripped out in the street,
and if it becomes crowded in, walk.
If you hear screaming, do not stop,
a nude thought attracts crowd.
Run over the top of a mountain,
and when your feet will be worn out:
with spirit and courage, throw yourself…
closing your eyes before jumping!
Do they find you nude? It does not matter.
There is always a known guy
who will say nothing… who will stay silent…
and who will dress you before burying.
         

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IF WE WILL BE ABLE TO….

Published March 5, 2013 by Tony

THEN IT WILL BE LOVE

Caravaggio, "Cupid as Victor"

If you’ll be able to be close to me
and we could be different.
If the sun will shine on both,
without our shadows overlapping.
If we’ll be able to be “us” in the middle of the world,
and together with the world, cry, laugh, live.
If every day it will be to discover what we’re,
and the memory of how we were.
If we’ll be able to grant each other,
without knowing who is the first and the last.
If your body will sing with mine because together is joy,
then it will be Love
and wont have been vain to wait much each other.

(Pablo Neruda)

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POEM

Published March 5, 2013 by Tony

"La Main de Dieu" by Rodin

Literal translation of a beautiful poem by a non-professional Italian author, Ettore Grimani, and that mistakenly on the web has often been saddled to Mahatma Gandhi, because it looks like a prayer. The title typed is the real one, even if someone has entitled it “take a smile”.

Act of Love

Take a smile,
give it those who never had it.
Take a sunbeam,
let it fly where the night reigns.
Discover a source,
wet those who live in mud.
Take a tear, lay it on the face of those who never cry.
Take the courage,
put it in the soul of those who don’t know how to fight.
Discover life,
tell it to those who don’t understand it.
Take the hope,
and live in its light.
Take goodness,
and give it to those who don’t know how to give.
Discover love,
and convey it to the world.

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ERRI DE LUCA

Published October 8, 2012 by Tony

The value of things

Erri De Luca  is a Neapolitan novelist, translator and poet, some years ago described as “the writer of the decade”.
He is self-taught in several languages including Ancient Hebrew and Yiddish. Although he never stopped writing since he was 20, his first book has been published in 1989. Many more books followed, best sellers in Italy, France and Israel, his work being translated and published in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Sweden, Holland, USA, Brazil, Poland, Norway, Danmark, Romania, Greece, Lithuania, and more and more. He has himself translated several books of the Bible into Italian and explored various aspects of Judaism, as a non-believer.
What I post today is a poetry entitled “Value”, taken from his “Opera on the water and other poems” of 2002, of which I’ve tried to do a decent translation. In a world where many values are gone lost and where many small things have no more value, this poetry becomes very current. Hope you like.

VALUE

I consider a “value” all form of life, the snow, the strawberry, the fly.
I consider value the mineral kingdom, the Assembly of the Stars.
I consider value the wine until the meal goes on, an involuntary smile,
the weariness of those who has not saved himself,
two old people who love each other.
I consider value what tomorrow will be worthless
and what today still has a little value.
I consider value any wound,
consider value saving the water, repair a pair of shoes, silent in time,
rushing to a cry, ask for permission before sit down,  feel gratitude without remembering the reason.
I consider value the knowledge of where is the north in a room,
what’s the name of the wind that is drying the laundry.
I consider value the voyage of a tramp, the reclusion of a nun,
the patience of a convicted, whatever is the blame.
I consider value the use of the verb ‘to love’ and the idea that there is a creator.
Many of these values I have not known.

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Antonio De Curtis

Published September 10, 2012 by Tony

“THE LEVEL” BY TOTO’

Antonio De Curtis best known by his stage name Totò (15 February 1898–15 April 1967) and whose complete name is prince Antonio Focas Flavio Angelo Ducas Comneno De Curtis di Bisanzio Gagliardi, was an Italian comedian, film and theatre actor, writer, singer and songwriter. He is widely considered one of the greatest Italian artists of the 20th century and loved by every Neapolitan as he was born in Naples and often talked in Neapolitan dialect. While he first gained his popularity as a comic actor, his dramatic roles, his poetry, and his songs are all deemed to be outstanding; his style and a number of his recurring jokes and gestures have become universally known memes in Italy. Probably people overseas do not know him, but for us Neapolitans Totò has become an icon, a legend whose name appears in all the encyclopedias.
If I had to pick one thing that Toto has done and that every Italian knows, I couldn’t not mention his poem entitled “La Livella” (The spirit Level), published in 1952, which for us is a must. A long poem set in a Neapolitan cemetery where the death and the dead persons are the protagonists.
But here the death does not frighten, the contrary is a source of humor and theatricality in an attempt to defuse act to allow the reader to appreciate not only poetry in and of itself, but also its high message, a metaphor which serves to enhance life before the death. Because as Totò says, death is like a “level” that leads to a world where there are no racial or social distinction. Everyone is equal to others being on the same “level”, whether during the earthly life he has been a king or a beggar.  For you it can appear a simple assumption, but hilariously told through a poem that looks more like a sketch, comic in the appearance but serious and grave in its meaning.

After a quick search on the internet, I think nobody has ever done a good English translation of this poem, so I will take a stab at doing it now. Obviously, the translation will lead to the loss of rhymes, while I have been obliged to adapt some ancient Neapolitan terms that have no equivalent in English.

  ‘A LIVELLA                                                                  THE LEVEL

Ogn’anno, il due novembre, c’è usanza

Every year, on November 2, it’s common for (1)

per i defunti andare al Cimitero.

the (day of the) Dead to go to the cemetery.

Ognuno ll’adda fà chesta crianza,

Everyone must do this good action,

ognuno adda tené chistu penziero.

everyone should have this attention.

 

 

Ogn’anno, puntualmente,in questo giorno

Every year, exactly on this day,

di questa triste e mesta ricorrenza,

of this sad and woeful celebration,

anch’io ci vado, e con dei fiori adorno

I go there too, and adorn with flowers

il loculo marmoreo ‘e zi’ Vicenza.

the grave stone of aunt Vincenza.

 

 

St’anno m’é capitato ‘navventura…

This year I have had an misadventure …

dopo di aver compiuto il triste omaggio,

after completed the sad homage,

Madonna! si ce penzo,e che paura!

oh my God! what a fear! If I think about it,

ma po’ facette un’anema e curaggio.

but then I took heart and courage.

 

 

‘O fatto è chisto, statemi a sentire:

The fact is this, listen to me:

s’avvicinava ll’ora d’à chiusura

it was time for the closing

io, tomo tomo, stavo per uscire

and I, slow…slow, was going to leave

buttando un occhio a qualche sepoltura.

having a look at some grave.

 

 

“Qui dorme in pace il nobile marchese

“Here sleeps in peace the noble Marquess

signore di Rovigo e di Belluno

lord of Rovigo and Belluno

ardimentoso eroe di mille imprese 

brave hero of a thousand feats 

morto l’11 maggio del ’31”

died on May 11 , ‘31 ” (2)

 

 

‘O stemma cu ‘a curona ‘ncoppa a tutto…

The coat of arms with a crown on top …

…sotto ‘na croce fatta ‘e lampadine,

a cross made with bulbs below,

tre mazze ‘e rose cu ‘na lista ‘e lutto,

three bunches of roses with a mourning list,

cannele,cannelotte e sei lumine.

candles, big candles and six grave-lights.

 

 

Proprio azzeccata ‘a tomba ‘e stu signore

Just close to the tomb of this gentleman

nce stava ‘n ‘ata tomba piccerella,

there was another tomb,  small,

abbandunata, senza manco un fiore,

abandoned without even a flower,

pe’ segno,sulamente ‘na crucella.

as a sign only a little cross.

 

 

E ncoppa ‘a croce appena se liggeva:

And on the cross barely read:

“Esposito Gennaro – netturbino”,

“Gennaro Esposito – garbage man”, (3)

guardannola, che ppena me faceva

looking at it, what a pity,

stu muorto senza manco nu lumino!

a dead without even a candle! (4)

 

 

Questa è la vita! ‘ncapo a me penzavo…

This is the life! I thought to myself …

chi ha avuto tanto e chi nun ave niente!

who had had much and those who has nothing!

Stu povero maronna s’aspettava

This poor fellow would have expected

ca pur all’atu munno era pezzente?

that even in the other world was wretched?

 

 

Mentre fantasticavo stu penziero,

As I mulled this thought,

s’era ggià fatta quase mezanotte,

it had already made ​​nearly midnight,

e i’rimanette ‘nchiuso priggiuniero,

and I remained close, captive and (5)

muorto ‘e paura…nnanze ‘e cannelotte.

scared to death.. in front of the grave-lights.

 

 

Tutto a ‘nu tratto,che veco ‘a luntano?

All of a sudden, who do I see from afar?

Ddoje ombre avvicenarse ‘a parte mia…

Two shadows approaching on my side …

Penzaje:stu fatto a me mme pare strano…

I thought: this thing seems to be strange …

Stongo scetato…dormo,o è fantasia?

Am I awake… am sleeping, or is it fantasy?

 

 

Ate che fantasia;era ‘o Marchese:

There is not fantasy! There was the Marquis

c’o’ tubbo,’a caramella e c’o’ pastrano,

with topper, monocle and overcoat,

chill’ato apriesso a isso un brutto arnese;

and the one behind him, not fine-looking,

tutto fetente e cu ‘nascopa mmano.

all dirty and with a broom in his hand.

 

 

E chillo certamente è don Gennaro…

And that certainly is Don Gennaro …

‘omuorto puveriello…’o scupatore.

The died poor man… the street sweeper.

‘Int ‘a stu fatto i’ nun ce veco chiaro:

I do not understand this thing:

so’ muorte e se ritirano a chest’ora?

are they dead and get back at this hour?

 

 

Putevano sta’ ‘a me quase ‘nu palmo,

They could be almost a foot from me,

quanno ‘o Marchese se fermaje ‘e botto,

when the Marquis stopped suddenly,

s’avota e tomo tomo..calmo calmo,

turns and indifferent… calm calm

dicette a don Gennaro:”Giovanotto!

told to Don Gennaro: “Lad!

 

 

Da Voi vorrei saper, vile carogna,

I want to know from you, vile carrion,

con quale ardire e come avete osato

how daring and how do you have dared

di farvi seppellir,per mia vergogna,

to let yourself bury, to my shame,

accanto a me che sono blasonato!

next to me who are a noble!

 

 

La casta è casta e va, si, rispettata,

Caste is caste and must be respected,

ma Voi perdeste il senso e la misura;

But you lost the sense and moderation;

la Vostra salma andava, si, inumata,

Your body had to be inhumed, yes,

ma seppellita nella spazzatura!

but buried in the trash!

 

 

Ancora oltre sopportar non posso

I cannot bear further

la Vostra vicinanza puzzolente,

your smelly presence,

fa d’uopo, quindi, che cerchiate un fosso

thus, it’s necessary that you look for a grave

tra i vostri pari,tra la vostra gente”

among your peers, among your people”.

 

 

“Signor Marchese, nun è colpa mia,

“Mr. Marquis, it is not my fault,

i’nun v’avesse fatto chistu tuorto,

I would not have done this affront,

mia moglie è stata a ffa’ sta fesseria,

My wife did this foolish thing,

i’ che putevo fa’ si ero muorto?

What could I do if I was dead?

 

 

Si fosse vivo ve farrei cuntento,

If I were living I would make you happy,

pigliasse ‘a casciulella cu ‘e qquatt’osse

I’d take the coffin with the four bones

e proprio mo,obbj’…’nd’a stu mumento

and right now, really, in this moment

mme ne trasesse dinto a n’ata fossa”.

I would get in another grave.”

 

 

“E cosa aspetti,oh turpe malcreato,

“And what are you waiting, filthy badly created

che l’ira mia raggiunga l’eccedenza?

that my wrath reaches the surplus?

Se io non fossi stato un titolato

If I had not been a titled

avrei già dato piglio alla violenza!”

I’d already used violence! “

 

 

“Famme vedé..-piglia sta violenza…

“Let me see .. use this violence …

‘A verità,Marché,mme so’ scucciato

Marquis, in truth,  I’m tired

‘e te senti;e si perdo ‘a pacienza,

to listen to you, and if I lose my patience,

mme scordo ca so’ muorto e so mazzate!..

I forget that I’m dead and beat up …

 

 

Ma chi te cride d’essere…nu ddio?

Who do you think you are … a god?

Ccà dinto,’o vvuo capi,ca simmo eguale?…

In here, try to understand, that we’re all equal​​…

…Muorto si’tu e muorto so’ pur’io;

dead are you, and dead I also am ;

ognuno comme a ‘na’ato é tale e quale”.

each one is similar at another”.

 

 

“Lurido porco!…Come ti permetti

“You dirty bastard! … How do you dare 

paragonarti a me ch’ebbi natali

to compare yourself to me that I had

illustri, nobilissimi e perfetti,

natal illustrious nobles and perfect (6)

da fare invidia a Principi Reali?”.

that rivals Royal Princes?”.

 

 

“Tu qua’ Natale…Pasca e Ppifania!!!

“But what Natal…Easter and Epiphany!

T”o vvuo’ mettere ‘ncapo…’int’a cervella

do you want put in your head… in your brain

che staje malato ancora e’ fantasia?…

that you’re sick of fantasy? …

‘A morte ‘o ssaje ched”e?…è una livella.

Do you know what death is? … is a level.

 

 

‘Nu rre,’nu maggistrato,’nu grand’ommo,

A king, a judge, a great man,

trasenno stu canciello ha fatt’o punto

going beyond this gate has realized that

c’ha perzo tutto,’a vita e pure ‘o nomme:

has lost everything, life, and also the name:

tu nu t’hè fatto ancora chistu cunto?

Don’t have you realized this yet?

 

 

Perciò,stamme a ssenti…nun fa”o restivo,

So, listen to me … don’t be reluctant,

suppuorteme vicino-che te ‘mporta?

endure my presence, what do you care?

Sti ppagliacciate ‘e ffanno sulo ‘e vive:

These antics are done by living (being) only;

nuje simmo serie,appartenimmo à morte!”

we are serious … we belong to the death! “

 

 

 

(1) In Italy the “All souls’ day” comes on 2 November.

(2) – The author is reading a grave epitaph.

(3) – Gennaro and Esposito are respectively a name and a surname very, very common in Naples, and once specifically concerning  the low-class.

(4) – For Neapolitans the dead’s cult is very strong and most braves have a grave-light always on (once, candles too), by an annual subscription.

(5) – Maybe, in the past the cemeteries closed at midnight, or it only is the author to choose this hour as it is correlated with the spirits apparition.

(6) The exact term to use here was “origin” but I used “natal” because in Italian the term “origin” is told “natali” which is just similar to the word “Natale” (Christmas in Italian) or can represent its plural, and this because the sweeper  is then ironic on this word playing with it, even adding other celebrations. The meaning of his next sentence could be “But which “natali” are you talking about…”, meaning they have no importance by now.

“At my funeral it will be very nice because there will be speeches, big words, praises; I will be discovered as a great actor, because this is the beautiful country where, to have gratitude then something must die.” – Totò –

WONDERFUL

Published May 20, 2012 by Tony

MERAVIGLIOSO

by Domenico Modugno

After the lyrics of yesterday, I could not avoid to put this other song by Modugno, another poem that speaks of the same subject, and that could be a response to the insane act of the man with the tail. Therefore, a hymn to life and as always I’ve tried to translate literally it, whereas possible. The video, however, refers to a recent version arranged by the Italian group Negramaro, a rock band from Puglia that has a lot of success here in Italy. I hope you like it.

WONDERFUL

It’s true
believe me it happened
at night on a bridge
watching the dark water
with the damn desire
to  take a dip down.
Suddenly
someone behind me
maybe an angel
dressed as a passerby
took me away telling me so:
Wonderful
but as you do not realize
how much the world is
wonderful.
Wonderful
your pain even
will seem then
wonderful….
But look around you
what gifts they did you:
they have invented
the sea
You say, I have nothing
Nothing seems (to you) the sun
Life
Love….
Wonderful
the fondness of a woman
who loves only you
wonderful….
The light of a morning
A friend’s hug
A child’s face
wonderful
wonderful…

The night was over
and I still felt (it)
(the) Taste of life
wonderful
wonderful….

OLD FRAC

Published May 19, 2012 by Tony

A Domenico Modugno Song

This is another song by the famous Italian singer Domenico Modugno, the writer of “Volare” (To fly). Entitled “OLD FRAC” is an old song but it’s always a pleasure to listen it, a song arranged later by other singers, but I’m proposing you the original version by the attached video. It is a melancholy poem whose words bring us back to old times, but through a timeless theme that unfortunately is still relevant: the suicide. The lyric masterfully composed, through a few words gives us the frames of some scenes while leaves much to the imagination. We can picture that man dressed in tailcoat, elegant and distinguished who is walking alone down the street late at night, was at a party or just been dumped by his woman. Sure he’s drunk, welcoming each object in its path by a simple bon nuit …. before reaching the bridge over the river. Whether for love or for bankruptcy, the next scene is clear: the top hat and tails floating in the water announce us his death, the death of a stranger who probably went away with the same discretion and elegance with whom he had lived.

In these cases, engaging in the translation of a lyric is always difficult, losing metric and rhymes. Therefore, consider it a simple literal translation and hear the song that is very beautiful.

OLD FRAC

Midnight is reached
noises are turned off
turned off even the last coffee’s sign
the streets are deserted
deserted and silent
that last carriage squeaking goes away
The river flows slowly
rustling under the bridge
the moon shines in the sky
sleeps through the city
only a man is going in a frac (tails)

He has a cylinder as hat
two diamonds for cuff-links
a stick of crystal
the gardenia as flagship
and on the candid waistcoats
a papillon, a blue silk papion

approaching slowly
with elegant gait
looking dreamy
melancholy and absent
don’t know from where comes
nor where he is going
Who ever is he
that man in frac

Buon nui, buon nui, buon nui, buon nui
good night
he is saying at anything
at the lanterns lit
at a rutting  cat
that stray goes away

And now it’s dawn
turn off the lights
wakes up gradually the whole city
the moon looks enchanted
surprise and pale
slowly fades into the sky and gradually will disappear

Yawns a window
on the silent river
and in the white light floating
a cylinder, a flower and a tail go away.

floating gently
let themselves rock
he goes down slowly
under the bridge to the sea
towards the sea
Who ever he will be
Who will ever be that man in frac.

Adieu, adieu, adieu, adieu, farewell to all the world
to the memories of the past
to a never dreamed dream
to a moment of love.