May: Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini : Translation

800px-Botticelli-primavera

Image: Primavera by Sandro Botticelli. Source

Well, well come May,

well, well come spring,

comrades behind the flag.

In the cool of the evening

your new love throws out the old.

In the cool of the evening

your new new love throws out the old.

Well, well come May,

well, well come the rose

the poets’ flower,

serenaded with my guitar

whilst I raise a toast

to Cenne and to Folgore

to Cenne and to Folgore.

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

Ben venga Maggio e il gonfalone amico, ben venga primavera,

il nuovo amore getti via l’antico nell’ ombra della sera, nell’ ombra della sera…

Ben venga Maggio, ben venga la rosa che è dei poeti il fiore,

mentre la canto con la mia chitarra brindo a Cenne e a Folgore, brindo a Cenne e a Folgore…

Translation notes & motes:

As usual I raise my glass to Prof. Renato Ferro of Calosso for discussion over “il gonfalone amico” and other points.

Ben venga Maggio e il gonfalone amico, ben venga primavera- Guccini’s reference is to the song Ben Venga Maggio by Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494), poet at the court of Lorenzo de Medici in Florence.

Well, well come May. Well, well come spring. I have doubled on well to try and capture the rhythm of  Poliziano’s ballad- which Guccini also echoes in this stanza.  Listen here for a recording of Ben Venga Maggio by Doulce Mémoire.

Il gonfalone amico. Comrades behind the flag.  I have applied a little fancy here – Poliziano has e ‘l gonfalon selvaggio.  This was the branch of blossoms which young Florentine men carried to the door of their beloveds on the festival of May 1st (Calendimaggio) having first paraded it around the town as a flag, a standard. Transposing this to the 20th-21st Century and May Day and I can’t help but see the red flag of comradeship.  I wonder if Guccini is not being a little bit of Cenne to Poliziano’s Folgore. I’ll explain this later!

In the cool of the evening. The Italian is literally in the shade of the evening but you can say andiamo all’ombra and mean let’s get out of the sun and into the cool.

Cenne and Folgore.  If Guccini opens this stanza with a 15th Century Florentine poet he closes it with two even earlier Tuscan poets and their poems both dedicated to the 12 months.   Folgóre da San Gimignano and Cenne da la Chitarra

Folgore wrote a courtly chivalric vision of the 12 months full of noble pleasures.  Cenne’s riposte was a sarcastic realism of cold and mud, bad wine, corruption and greed.  More info on this “poetic tension”  between Folgore and Cenne can be found here . A poetic tension which can also be found in Guccini’s dodici mesi.

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