Image: Una roggia di Varese by Diego Menna (CC-BY-NC-SA)
March, rain bringer, singer,
the fog shreds it shroud.
March, snow melter, ditch filler.
The thaw chuckles aloud.
The thaw chuckles aloud.
Time’s wings beat too fast.
So fill up the glass.
Enough with winter and pointless penance,
Look,it’s already far away,
Look,already in the distance.
Days, months, like my life always leaving
Every year different and all the years the same.
The Tarot hand, where you never work out the meaning,
never know what’s the game.
Original by Francesco Guccini from “canzone dei dodici mese” , album radici 1972
Cantando Marzo porta le sue piogge, la nebbia squarcia il velo,
porta la neve sciolta nelle rogge il riso del disgelo, il riso del disgelo…
Riempi il bicchiere, e con l’inverno butta la penitenza vana,
l’ala del tempo batte troppo in fretta, la guardi, è già lontana, la guardi, è già lontana…
O giorni, o mesi che andate sempre via, sempre simile a voi è questa vita mia.
Diverso tutti gli anni, ma tutti gli anni uguale,
la mano di tarocchi che non sai mai giocare, che non sai mai giocare.
Translation notes & motes:
Thanks as usual to Prof. Renato Ferro of Calosso for help with the intricacies of the Italian language.
Squarciare: to unveil with some force, to tear off. Not a coy lifting of a veil!
Roggia (sing) Rogge (pl) A small irrigation canal found all across the Po plain.
Il riso del disgelo. The laughter of the thaw. But what sort of laughter? I’ve gone for chuckle to suggest melt water moving rapidly in small ditches.
Penitenza Vana. Pointless penance. We keep some sense of vana in English with “vain hope”, “vain quest” etc. March is the month in which the penance of Lent ends so there is the tension here, as in many stanzas of Guccini’s song, between the religious and the secular – or perhaps animist.
l’ala del tempo batte troppo in fretta The wing(singular) of time beats in too much hurry. Between English and Italian the use of singular and plural for nouns often gets swapped. What interests me here is the possible reference to Andrew Marvell’s poem Coy Mistress, “but at my back I always hear time’s winged chariot drawing near” . Of course, Guccini could have meant wing singular in which case we have the image of time, like a wounded bird, flying round and round in a circle!
La guardi, you see it. Grammatically this refers to the wing (singular) of time but grammar and poetry don’t always see eye to eye. Cut me a little slack in making it refer to winter and penance past.