All posts tagged translation


Published February 22, 2014 by Tony

Il mare d’inverno”  (Winter sea)  is a song brought to success by Loredana Berte, an Italian singer. Song written by Enrico Ruggeri in 1983.

Like other Italian songs that I have proposed and tried to translate, this also seems to be a poem, a passage of a theatrical monologue. To make you better appreciate the Italian text, I add a video of the song. Hope you like it.

The winter sea is only a movie in black and white seen on TV
and inwards a few cloud from heaven is thrown down
wet sand, a letter that the wind is taking away
invisible points chased by dogs, tired parables of old seagulls
and I who am only here to look for a coffee
the winter sea is a concept that the thought doesn’t consider,
it’s not modern, something that nobody ever want
Hotels closed, posters advertising already faded,
vehicles draw furrows on roads where the summer rain does not fall
and I who can’t even talk to myself
Sea sea here is never anyone to drag me away
Sea sea here nobody ever comes to keep us company
Sea sea I can’t see you so because this wind also stirs me….
this wind also stirs me …

The cold will pass and the beach will slowly color itself
radio and newspapers and a banal music will spread
new adventures, lit nightclubs full of lies
but towards evening a strange concert and an umbrella that stays open
I dive puzzled at the moments we spent already
Sea sea here is never anyone to drag me away
Sea sea here nobody ever comes to keep us company
Sea sea I can’t see you so because this wind stirs me too …
Sea sea….


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.


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.




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



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.


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.


Antonio De Curtis

Published September 10, 2012 by Tony


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 –


Published May 20, 2012 by Tony


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.


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.
someone behind me
maybe an angel
dressed as a passerby
took me away telling me so:
but as you do not realize
how much the world is
your pain even
will seem then
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
the fondness of a woman
who loves only you
The light of a morning
A friend’s hug
A child’s face

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


Published August 14, 2011 by Tony



Here’s a possible translation of the lyrics:


Weary, resigned, innocent, possessed
Naked, shamed, betrayed, condemned
But it is my city
Dirty, poisoned, uncivilized, inflamed
Always crowded, devout, mutinous
But it is my city
And the night will never go
Beautiful, flashy, envied, invasive
Vulgar, indecent, violent, incandescent
But it is my city
Sweet, unconscious, treacherous, insolent
Bitter, haunting, miraculously, irreverent
But it is my city
And tomorrow who knows, you’ll see that it’ll change, maybe it’s true
But nothing will ever change if I am the only one to believe in it

Alone, abandoned, invisible, spied
Fair, despised, wild, uncontrolled
But it is my city
Cultured, refined, attacked, scorned
Suit, light-hearted, superstitious, ruthless
But it is my city
And tomorrow who knows, you’ll see that it’ll change, maybe it’s true
But nothing will ever change if I am the only one to believe in it

Ancient, antiquated, mysterious, unexplored
Fragile, spices, besieged, handcuffed
But it is my city

This is the lyrics of the last song of the Neapolitan songwriter Edoardo Bennato. A song dedicated to Naples (click on the video to listen to the song).


LA MIA CITTA – E. Bennato –


To know more about him you can read this article on wikipedia. Edoardo wrote many songs but some really are masterpeices and I love a lot  “Il gatto e la Volpe” and “L’sola che non c’è”, and just for you I translated this last one, while you can listen to the song here




The Neverland

Second star to the right
this is the way,
and then straight on till morning
then the road you will find by yourself,
it leads to Never Land.

Perhaps this will seem strange
but the reason loses control of the situation.
And now you’re almost convinced that
it cannot exist an island that there isn’t.

And to think, what a madness,
is a fable, it is just fantasy
and who is wise, who is mature knows it:
it cannot exist in the reality!

I agree with you,
doesn’t exist a land
where there are not saints or heroes
and if there are no thieves,
and if there is never the war,
 perhaps it justr is the island that there isn’t
… that there is not.

It is not an invention
and even a pun 
If you believe in me it is sufficient 
then you find the road by yourself.

I agree with you,
no thieves and policemen,
but, what kind of island is it?
No hatred and violence,
either soldiers or weapons,
Perhaps it just is the island that there isn’t
… that ther isn’t.

Second star to the right
this is the way,
and then straight on till morning
you can not miss it
that is the island that there isn’t!
And you get teased
if you go on to look for it,
but do not give up, because
who has already given up
and  laugh behind
maybe it’s even crazier than you!