Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tutto Fabrizio De André:
   La guerra di Piero - Piero's War

Dormi sepolto in un campo di grano
non è la rosa non è il tulipano
che ti fan veglia dall'ombra dei fossi
ma sono mille papaveri rossi

lungo le sponde del mio torrente
voglio che scendano i lucci argentati
non più i cadaveri dei soldati
portati in braccio dalla corrente

così dicevi ed era inverno
e come gli altri verso l'inferno
te ne vai triste come chi deve
il vento ti sputa in faccia la neve

fermati Piero, fermati adesso
lascia che il vento ti passi un po' addosso
dei morti in battaglia ti porti la voce
chi diede la vita ebbe in cambio una croce

ma tu no lo udisti e il tempo passava
con le stagioni a passo di giava
ed arrivasti a varcar la frontiera
in un bel giorno di primavera

e mentre marciavi con l'anima in spalle
vedesti un uomo in fondo alla valle
che aveva il tuo stesso identico umore
ma la divisa di un altro colore

sparagli Piero, sparagli ora
e dopo un colpo sparagli ancora
fino a che tu non lo vedrai esangue
cadere in terra a coprire il suo sangue

e se gli sparo in fronte o nel cuore
soltanto il tempo avrà per morire
ma il tempo a me resterà per vedere
vedere gli occhi di un uomo che muore

e mentre gli usi questa premura
quello si volta, ti vede e ha paura
ed imbracciata l'artiglieria
non ti ricambia la cortesia

cadesti a terra senza un lamento
e ti accorgesti in un solo momento
che il tempo non ti sarebbe bastato
a chieder perdono per ogni peccato

cadesti a terra senza un lamento
e ti accorgesti in un solo momento
che la tua vita finiva quel giorno
e non ci sarebbe stato un ritorno

Ninetta mia crepare di maggio
ci vuole tanto troppo coraggio
Ninetta bella dritto all'inferno
avrei preferito andarci d'inverno

e mentre il grano ti stava a sentire
dentro alle mani stringevi fucile
dentro alla bocca stringevi parole
troppo gelate per sciogliersi al sole

dormi sepolto in un campo di grano
non è la rosa non è il tulipano
che ti fan veglia dall'ombra dei fossi
ma sono mille papaveri rossi.

La guerra di Piero © 1964 Fabrizio De André

"La guerra di Piero" was the B-side of a single released in 1964, and it received little notice. However, in 1968 the song became an anthem to militant anti-war students in Italy and achieved the stature of Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." The song has its origins in stories told to De André by his uncle, who served in World War II in the Albanian campaign and spent almost two years at the Mannheim concentration camp as a prisoner of war. He never recovered from the wartime trauma, but his stories made an indelible impression on the young De André. Even though credited only to De André, the music of the song was co-written with guitarist Vittorio Centanaro. "La giava," translated as "square dance," was in fact a fast waltz that became popular in France after World War I, considered by some an indecent dance because it involved touching the hips of the girl (gasp!).



You sleep buried in a field of grain.
It’s not the rose, it's not the tulip
that stands vigil over you by the shadow of the trenches,
but a thousand red poppies.

Along the banks of my stream
I wish the silver pikes would swim past,
no more the cadavers of soldiers
carried in the arms of the current.

Thus you were saying, and it was winter.
And like the others, towards the inferno
you go, sad as one who must.
The wind spits snow in your face.

Stop Piero, stop now,
let the wind pass over you a bit.
You carry with you the voice of the battle dead -
whoever gave his life had a cross in exchange.

But you didn’t hear it, and time passed
with the seasons at the pace of a square dance,
and you arrived to cross the frontier
on a beautiful day in spring.

And while marching, shouldering your spirit,
you saw a man down in the valley
with the very same mood as yours,
but the uniform of a different color.

Shoot him, Piero, shoot him now,
and after a hit shoot him again
until you don’t see him, lifeless,
falling to the ground to cover his blood.

And if I shoot him in the forehead or in the heart,
he’ll only have time to die.
But time will remain for me to see,
to see the eyes of a man who is dying.

And while you give him this consideration,
he turns, he sees you and is afraid
and, his artillery raised and aimed,
he doesn't return the same courtesy to you.

You fell to the ground without a cry
and were aware in an instant
that there would not be enough time for you
to ask pardon for every sin.

You fell to the earth without a cry
and realized in an instant
that your life was ending that day,
and there would be no return.

My Ninetta, dying in May
takes way too much courage.
Beautiful Ninetta, straight to hell
I would have preferred to go in winter.

And while the grain stood to hear you,
in your hands you were gripping a rifle,
in your mouth you clenched words
too cold to melt in the sun.

You sleep buried in a field of grain.
It’s not the rose, it's not the tulip
that stands vigil over you by the shadow of the trenches,
but a thousand red poppies.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Tutto Fabrizio De André was released in 1966 and is a compilation of singles released between 1961 and 1966.
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