December: Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini : Translation

William Blake: The Tyger

William Blake: The Tyger

December, I slouch in stupor
to your gates.

Throughout your days
my mind sows
sad seeds of death, sad seeds of death

Men and all things
cast on the ground
thin shadows, listless

But in your days,
foretold by phophets,
is born Christ the tiger
is born Christ the tiger

Original from Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini

E mi addormento come in un letargo, Dicembre, alle tue porte,

lungo i tuoi giorni con la mente spargo tristi semi di morte, tristi semi di morte…

Uomini e cose lasciano per terra esili ombre pigre,

ma nei tuoi giorni dai profeti detti nasce Cristo la tigre, nasce Cristo la tigre…

Notes:

nasce Cristo la tigre.  Is born Christ the Tiger.  Guccini has already referred to the poet T S Eliot in the stanza for April “quali segreti scoprì in te il poeta che ti chiamò crudele”. Here he goes to Eliot’s Gerontion for inspiration.

“Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year
Came Christ the tiger”

Christ the tiger- an interesting image, and a uncommon one. We are more familiar with Christ as “the lamb of god”, sacrificial, meek. This lead me to a search for the sources of Eliot’s opposing image of Christ the tiger. The most obvious source is William Blake with his poems The Tyger and  The Lamb .  However, Eliot in writing about the nativity was also influenced by the writings of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, Dean to the Chapel Royal of King James the First.  The opening lines of Eliot’s coming of the Magi-

“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”

come from  Andrewes Nativity Sermon of 1622

“Last we consider the time of their coming, the season of the year. It was no summer progress. A cold coming they had of it at this time of the year, just the worst time of the year to take a journey, and specially a long journey. The ways deep, the weather sharp, the days short, the sun farthest off, in solsitio brumali”

Andrewes chastises his congregation for their laziness in approaching Christ,

“If rugged or uneven the way, if the weather ill-disposed, if any so little danger, it is enough to stay us. To Christ we cannot travel, but weather and way and all must be fair. If not, no journey, but still and see farther. As indeed, all our religion is rather vidimus, a contemplation, than venimus, a motion, or stirring to do ought.”

In then later in the same sermon we find

“We love to make no great haste. To other things perhaps not adorare, the place of the worship of God. Why should we? Christ is no wild-cat. What talk ye of twelve days? And if it be forty days hence, ye shall be sure to find His Mother and Him; she cannot be churched till then. What needs such haste?”

Christ is no wild-cat, no tiger. But only if religion is a contemplation rather than a motion.

I make no apology to any reader for quoting at length from Andrewes.  He wrote at a time when a fire burnt in our language.

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November: Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini : Translation

Calosso Cemetery in hill fog. Photo by Pete Carroll (licence CC-BY)

Calosso Cemetery in hill fog. Photo by Pete Carroll (licence CC-BY)

November bears down
settling on the fields
in fog burdensome,unsettling.

Among the gardens consecrated to grief
they commemorate the dead,
they commemorate the dead..

The rain falls
and your face is wet with a dew of drops.

One day, for you also, your fate will change
in mud on the road
in mud on the road…

Original from Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini

Cala Novembre e le inquietanti nebbie gravi coprono gli orti,

lungo i giardini consacrati al pianto si festeggiano i morti, si festeggiano i morti…

Cade la pioggia ed il tuo viso bagna di gocce di rugiada

te pure, un giorno, cambierà la sorte in fango della strada, in fango della strada…

Notes:

Cala(re) I have taken it here to mean to come down upon, to fall upon.

Gravi – serious, heavy, oppressive

Si festeggiano –  commemorate- but Prof. Ferro thinks intended with a sense of the pejorative- a once a year duty at the cemetery on Nov 1st – Ognissanti -All Saints Day.

Many thanks here to Prof. Renato Ferro of Calosso for his insight..

 

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Full Moon II

CC BY-NC 2.0) http://www.flickr.com/photos/45082883@N00/8690580086 Full moon through tree branches (4)   Michael Sauers  Travelin' Librarian

Full moon through tree branches (4)
Michael Sauers
Travelin’ Librarian(CC BY-NC 2.0)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/45082883@N00/8690580086

Two months ago I posted Full Moon. A birthday poem for some one I once knew well.  The end of the poem was

“..And some things wax. And some things wane. But you and I and what we had that stays the same.”

 

Thinking about it, that ending is a triumph of rhyme over reason. Or hope over experience.  True, that “what we had stays the same” , frozen in time. But, the “you and I”  of the poem have changed beyond recognition.  So, it’s full moon again and  here is Full Moon II. In the meantime I’ve found out that, yes, the moon and earth are inching apart- by about 1.5 inches a year – all to do with tides (see here for more info)

Full Moon II

Look up,
the full moon looks back,
still in the sky,
After all those turnings.

Look up,
all moves apart
inch by inch,year by year.

You, me,
the moon.
No more june,
no more spoon.

Copyright 2013 Pete Carroll (CC-BY)

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October: Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini : Translation

Ciclo_dei_mesi,_ottobre

Ciclo dei mesi, ottobre Maestro Venceslao 1390-1400s

October, I just don’t know..

Why doesn’t everyone see it,

you’re so beautiful.

In fat vats like full bellies

you cook up must and intoxication,

must and exaltation.

All along my mountains

the mad clouds flee like sad birds.

All along, the low clouds wreath

my copper coloured mountains like smoke,

the low clouds wreath like smoke.

 

Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ciclo_dei_mesi,_ottobre.jpg?uselang=en 

 

Original from Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini

Non so se tutti hanno capito Ottobre la tua grande bellezza:

nei tini grassi come pance piene prepari mosto e ebbrezza, prepari mosto e ebbrezza…

Lungo i miei monti, come uccelli tristi fuggono nubi pazze,

lungo i miei monti colorati in rame fumano nubi basse, fumano nubi basse…

Notes:

 

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Full Moon

505px-FullMoon2010Image Source: wikipedia

Look up,
the full moon looks back
still in the sky
after all those turnings.

Month by month we move along.

Look up,
here is my measure
to tread out time.
The daily sun too fast
the yearly sun too slow.

Month by month we move along.

Look up,
the full moon looks back
still in the sky
at all those turnings.

And some things wax
and some things wane
but you and I and what we had
that stays the same.

Copyright Pete Carroll 2013 license CC-BY

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September: Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini : Translation

Barbera grapes

Barbera grapes almost ready for the harvest- from my own little vineyard just up the hill.

Image:  Pete Carroll license: CC-BY

September,
the expected question mark,
at summer’s end.

Thoughts turn, your life, the years.

You sit, think.
Again the game begins
Who, who are you?

Like sparks,possibilities
burn in your fire,
possibilities.

Original from the song canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini

Settembre è il mese del ripensamento sugli anni e sull’ età,
dopo l’ estate porta il dono usato della perplessità, della perplessità…
Ti siedi e pensi e ricominci il gioco della tua identità,
come scintille brucian nel tuo fuoco le possibilità, le possibilità..

Notes:  dono usato della perplessità.  Usato in the sense of customary, habitual.  Perplessità – questioning, puzzlement.  Interesting to me is Guccini’s pairing of donato usato, (the familiar gift- with for me its connotations of “heimlich”, the german for familiar) with perplessità, perplexity.  This turns it inside out- it becomes “das unheimliche”- Freud’s “uncanny”  ,unsettling.

 My thanks to Professore Renato Ferro of Calosso for helping me with this phrase.

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July/August: Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini : Translation

IMGP0691 cut1 web

Image: Cut grass in Valle Fausano Calosso- July 2013

Rest up, drink

let the world around seem

as in a vision

Ah, he’s here,

July the Lion,

with long days of bright colours

as  in a vision.

August, no work,

idling in your long sleepy hours

Ah, this moment, it’s never felt so good

to be drunk on wine and heat,

wine and heat

Original from the song canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini

Con giorni lunghi di colori chiari ecco Luglio, il leone,
riposa, bevi e il mondo attorno appare come in una visione, come in una visione…
Non si lavora Agosto, nelle stanche tue lunghe oziose ore
mai come adesso è bello inebriarsi di vino e di calore, di vino e di calore…

Notes:  Yes, I’ve played fast and loose  to make July the Lion.. appear as in a vision. Guccini’s original  come in una visione refers only to the world.  But if half asleep and half drunk on a hot July day  a brightly coloured lion can’t appear as a vision in that world  – and let me work in Guccini’s repetition of come in una visione  then Blake’s tiger had better get taken back to the zoo. Translation, for me is not regurgitation.

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