March: Canzone dei dodici mese by Francesco Guccini : Translation


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.

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UK: the house of (credit) cards

And all fall down….


Source: Financial Times 20 Feb 2013.

See earlier post   Stress Testing Middle Britain

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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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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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Gentlemen & Scholars Only. No Tradesmen. University Websites.

Tradesmen Entrance web

Photo by Chris Radcliff  (CC BY-SA 2.0)     “Sign in Washington D.C. near the U.S. Capitol building. The arrow pointed to a blocked narrow staircase leading down to an unused basement door.”

Another comment, following my earlier one,  posted in response to  the Guardian article .

“Where are university websites hiding all their research?”

 The descriptive text for the photo above seems very appropriate to how Universities treat research pages on their websites.

Got a bit steamed up at the end – aux barricades citoyens and all that- but why not?  Am beginning to wonder if researchers give a damn about their research pages on university websites. If they “owned”  them it might be different.

(Comment follows)

“I submitted a clunky comment earlier.I’d like to repackage and try again.

First, I’ll declare an interest. I want to make money from the information about the research going on in UK universities. Let’s be clear, what I’m interested in is not the published papers. They are probably the most important output of university research but they are not the only product of that research. There is also the “translate and engage” information that you will find on the website pages about departmental research and in the research councils’ grant databases. This where a research unit can sketch out who’s doing what, where, and who’s paying. Where researchers can blog and post videos. Where they can engage possible collaborators from other disciplines and other countries. I want to take this information mix and mash it and sell it on to the world.  Why? Because the UK public sector research base is one of the few strengths the UK still has since Mrs. T’s long bet on the banks went bust. Why commercial? Because a “push” model of getting that information out as far as possible would serve UK universities better at engaging with the world outside the research units than the present “pull” model of researcher looking up researcher. And to push that information out requires an incentive to me, and others like me. And no, given the volume of UK research, I don’t think a trickle feed of research news items from university press departments counts as an effective push model

So what do I find when I get to a university departmental research page? A big sign saying “Gentlemen  and scholars only. No tradesmen”.That is what the present  “all rights reserved except for fair dealing exceptions” copyright T&Cs that are applied to university websites amount to.

Things are changing, Gateway to Research the beta phase RCUK portal to grant database information is under Open Government Licence- that is I can do more or less what I want with it, including commercial re-use, so long as I attribute source and don’t misrepresent.

Cicero21 quite rightly points out that universities don’t do research, it’s the researchers in departments who do. And who writes the departmental research webpages?  The researchers not the university administrators. So here’s my modest proposal to you researchers – take back control of your intellectual property, of your copyright over what you have written on those webpages, and decide for yourselves, unit by unit, what licensing terms you want to apply. You want to keep the No Tradesmen sign up, fair enough- but you decide.  And don’t be put off by being told that the university website can only support one level of licensing for everyone and everything. A modern CMS based university website that does not support explicit granularity of content licensing is not fit for purpose- especially with the emergence of MOOCs and OERs. And don’t be put off by administrators telling you that in your contract of employment you assigned your website page copyright to the “university”. Remind them that when you write for your departmental webpages it is no different from when you write a research paper. And if research papers are moving towards Open Access and Open Licences, and the research councils are behind that move, then why should your departmental web pages be different. Place them in the position of being perceived as Elsevier and see how they like it.”

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Research Pages on University Websites : CC BY licences?

With my  Scibella  hat on, one aim in 2013 is to  campaign for CC-BY “open”  licencing terms for research pages on university websites. It’s time to drag whoever writes their website T&Cs  away from a vision of university research as a “club for gentlemen & scholars “.    So have just commented on Guardian article

“Where are university websites hiding all their research?”

Mainly a cut and paste job from section 2 of my BIS select committee submission

with added Gateway to Research OGL licence (hooray,hooray) angle.

I would agree with Ian Carter of the University of Sussex that “presenting research and knowledge exchange information online is important as the university’s website is an entry point for potential funders, customers, partners and researchers themselves.”

A 2010 NESTA-RIN report characterised these research outputs as the “translating and engaging” part of the research cycle :

“involving the envisaged users of the research in actual or potential applications of it, in other research fields, commercialisation or policy” means of “General articles, web pages, briefings, public exhibits, presentations”

Source: Open to All? Case studies of openness in research,

It would seem obvious that the widest dissemination, within and beyond the UK, of this “translate & engage” information would be of great economic value. However, at present, nearly all of this information is only available under university website copyright terms & conditions which limit its use to non-commercial private research & study. Re-use for any other purpose is forbidden without “express written consent”—even if you are a non-commercial academic researcher.

Recently RCUK set up Gateway to Research, a portal for research grants, “aimed at those that wish to access UK research information, with a particular focus on innovation intensive SMEs, who wish to understand the UK research base”- ( ) using the Open Government Licence (more or less equivalent to a CC-BY licence). Under “Intellectual Property” ( ) they say:

“If an individual or a company wishes to learn more about a research project or gain access to IP, they should contact the host Research Organisation. Research Councils expect both the host Research Organisation and interested parties to take effective decisions about intellectual asset management that deliver the most benefit to society and the economy. This will include recognising circumstances where the publication of research outcomes or free dissemination to users might be the most effective approach.”

At present a innovative SME going from Gateway to Research to a university website to learn more about a research project,or a researcher,infringes the terms of use for that website if they make any copy of that information without “prior written permission”! Not quite the best way to deliver the most benefit to society and the economy.

Time for university website managers and others responsible for website T&Cs to get in line with the RCUK and change to a CC-BY or OGL licence for university website research pages?   “

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Hargreaves IP Review consultation: quotations exception: scibella submission

Responded to question about exception for quotations. .

Question 94.

Should the current exception for criticism and review be amended so that it covers more uses of quotations? If so, should it be extended to cover any quotation, or only cover specific categories of use? Can you provide evidence of the costs or benefits of amending this exception?

My submission is now published as  . Only problem is it’s still trapped inside the on line pdf form the IPO provided – peering out 4 lines at a time from a tiny scrolling window [Note to IPO, you’re doing good work with covering the implementation of Hargreaves but don’t ever use that form again, please..]. So, here it is free at last, roaming the wilds of wordpress.

“I am working on a project to set up a Current Research Information Service (CRIS)  for research being carried out by UK and Irish universities and research councils. The innovative aspect of Scibella would be a  transformative re-use of UK university & research council job advertisements. These advertisements contain substantial details about researchers, what their projects are, where they are based- the core elements of a CRIS. I am planning a commercial operation as this is the best way of ensuring its continuity, I am 65 and at some point will wish to hand this CRIS project on.  My present problem with copyright is that these adverts, even after expiry of the application date and their deletion from university websites, retain copyright for a period of 70 years. As matters stand I  have to seek written permission to quote from these adverts, for commercial re-use, from well over a hundred separate institutions- a long process with no certainty of outcome.

An exception that allowed quotation under “fair dealing” for purposes of information would provide a legal framework within which my project could proceed further

An exemplary quotation would be further details for an entry on
Project: Sonosensitive Nanoparticle Characterisation
Unit: University of Oxford – Institute of Biomedical Engineering

Further details:
“Description of the project

The project forms part of a large collaborative effort within the Institute of Biomedical Engineering aimed at developing improved, ultrasound-based drug delivery strategies that are capable of targeting both primary and metastatic liver tumours efficaciously over a single course of administration. The objective over the 5-year project timescale is to address the drug formulation, ultrasound-induced release, quantitative imaging aspects and anticancer activity of the project in parallel, with all researchers working in adjacent laboratories.

Overview of the role
Recent work carried out at the University of Oxford has yielded a new generation of solid sonosensitive nanoparticles of high surface roughness and hydrophobicity, capable of lowering the pressure amplitudes required for initiation of inertial cavitation and drug delivery. The specific role of the person appointed will be to understand, model and optimize the mechanism for nanoparticle-based cavitation nucleation and drug release, both computationally and experimentally. The researcher will also have the opportunity to contribute to the design and manufacture of existing and novel sonosensitive nanoparticle formulations.”

Source: (now deleted from Oxford University website)


I envisage a sectoral approach, e.g.current nanotechnology research projects in UK universities, published in e-book format.  Initially I plan  4-6 sectoral publications per year.  Each sectoral publication could involve using 200-400 quotations from around approx 20-30 major research universities and research councils. Each quotation could be about 200-400 words.

 Under present copyright law I would have to make  80- 180 applications  per year for clearance.

(20 universities/research councils approached 4 times a year =80; 30 universities/research councils approached 6 times a year =180)

Using data from the impact assessment accompanying the consultation “Exception for use of quotations or extracts of copyright works IA No: BIS0310” ( ) I estimate for each application about 4 hours of scibella time and 4.5 hours for the rights-owner at  £12.40- £18.80  per hour (including 24%uplift). This gives a range for administrative costs for rights-clearances:

Scibella  £3968 -£13536 (80 requests x 4hrs x £12.40= £3968  180 requests x 4hrs x £18.80 = £13536)
Rights-holders £4464 – £15228  (80 requests  x 4.5hrs x £12.40=£4464 180 requests x 4.5hrs x £18.80 =£15228)

If the universities as rights-holders were to try and apply a licensing rate of £170 per 1000 words then the cost to Scibella would be from £ 27200 to £163200 per year

(4 pubns. a year x 200 quotes per pubn. x 200 words a quote x £0.17 a word = £27200
(6 pubns. a year x 400 quotes per pubn. x 400 words a quote x £0.17 a word = £163200
Taking the  mid point  expected licensing costs to Scibella would be £ 95200 a year

Expected sales of the publications  are 200-400 per sector at £20-40 per publication producing a gross revenue range of £ 16,000-£96000. (4 pubns. per year x 200 sales per pubn x £20 per sale =£16000: 6 pubn.s per year x 400 sales per pubn. x£40 per sale =£96000).The  mid point is £56000.

Obviously given expected annual licensing costs of £95200 a year and sales revenue of £56000 I would not proceed with Scibella and the benefits of promoting and disseminating excellent UK scientific research would not occur.

Much more likely is the situation in which the universities as rights-holders would grant me permission without charge in recognition of the advantages  to themselves in the widest dissemination of their research. In which case under the present copyright regime there is an administrative cost of £ 8432-£28764 to Scibella and the universities without any benefit from licensing income to the universities. An exception for “fair dealing” with quotations for purposes of  information, or comparable uses, would avoid imposing these administrative costs of seeking and clearing rights permission”

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