February : Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini : Translation


Image: The fight between carnival and Lent. Pieter Bruegel

February, and the world’s got its head down.

All but Harlequin.

Who, caught in carnival lets go sorrow,

from party to piazza

whirls and prances,

whirls and prances.

Winter’s still a  way to go.

But in the first days of a weakling sun,

in the heart hope stirs,

and the spring dances,

and the spring dances.

Original by Francesco Guccini from “canzone dei dodici mese” , album radici 1972

Viene Febbraio, e il mondo è a capo chino, ma nei conviti e in piazza

lascia i dolori e vesti da Arlecchino, il carnevale impazza, il carnevale impazza…

L’inverno è lungo ancora, ma nel cuore appare la speranza

nei primi giorni di malato sole la primavera danza, la primavera danza..

Translation notes & motes:

As usual I bow my own head to Prof. Renato Ferro of  Calosso for help with the intricacies of the Italian language.

The choice of image comes from a limited reading (via Google Books preview) of Federica Pegorin’s book,  Francesco Guccini. Cantore di vita.  Page 58.  Like Pegorin I feel there is a tension/ambivalence in this stanza between the secular and the religious, between Carnival and Lent.

A capo chino. With head bowed. At first I took this as a reference specifically to Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent and the day after the end of carnival, when christians bow their heads to receive the mark of ashes on the brow. So the first draft ran something like penitent, the world pauses. However, Renato tells me that Guccini is a secularist and this is more about keeping your head down against the snow and rain and cold.  Yep, as a survivor of a few Piedmont winters now, I’ll go with that.

Conviti (plural)   Most transcriptions of the lyrics on the web have “convitti” (plural)  boarding schools . Convito (singular) means dinner party, private banquet, something amongst friends- a bit special.  Pegorin has conviti and I too think that makes more sense.  That’s not to say the boarding schools in Venice didn’t get swept up into the spirit of Carnevale -I’m sure they did.

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