January: Guccini i dodici mesi translation

river after snow

Photo: River after snow by  “swan corner” (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Translation of stanza for Gennaio (January) from canzone dei dodici mesi (The 12 Months) by Francesco Guccini  .

Deepest thanks to Professore Renato Ferro of Calosso for his invaluable help.

January slides in silent soft, a river sleeping.

Sick, I hide my body between its banks.

Sick, I fall like snow to rest.

White, the fields spread out like sheets in rows.

Black, tired trees, exhausted

like lovers after their adventure.

(for Lawrence (Flo) West died 10 Jan 2013)


“Viene Gennaio silenzioso e lieve, un fiume addormentato

fra le cui rive giace come neve il mio corpo malato, il mio corpo malato…

Sono distese lungo la pianura bianche file di campi,

son come amanti dopo l’avventura neri alberi stanchi, neri alberi stanchi…”

Translation notes:

The original is a song from the album Radici (1972). There are rhymes addormentato.. malato, campi.. stanchi which I cannot ( /will not) bring across. So I have tried for an evocation of what came into my mind when I first studied the song.  A slow moving lowland river, such as the Po or Thames, in a flat white landscape. Snow falling onto dark water and dissolving as it comes to rest. A few trees on a flood plain, bare, black against the white.   This is not a literal translation-as will be obvious to anyone with some knowledge of Italian. I have shifted the third person singular giace into the first person I hide. I have substituted the repeated il mio corpo malato with a doubling of the verb giacere as this has two senses (at least)  in Italian. Giacere – to be at rest as in qui giace… on a tombstone but also to be still and hidden, as in qui giace la lepré, here hides the hare. I have added sheets which is not in the Italian to intensify Guccini’s vision of the trees like exhausted lovers.

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