Monday, February 3, 2014

Volume III:
   Nell'acqua della chiara fontana -
   In the Water of a Clear Spring (Georges Brassens)

Nell'acqua della chiara fontana
Lei tutta nuda si bagnava
Quando un soffio di tramontana
Le sue vesti in cielo portava

Dal folto dei capelli mi chiese
Per rivestirla di cercare
I rami di cento mimose
E ramo con ramo intrecciare

Volli coprire le sue spalle
Tutte di petali di rosa
Ma il suo seno era così minuto
Che fu sufficiente una rosa

Cercai ancora nella vigna
perchè a metà non fosse spoglia
ma i suoi fianchi eran così minuti
che fu sufficiente una foglia

Le braccia lei mi tese allora
Per ringraziarmi un po' stupita
Io la presi con tanto ardore
Che lei fu di nuovo svestita

Il gioco divertì la graziosa
Che molto spesso alla fontana
Torno' a bagnarsi pregando Dio
Per un soffio di tramontana

Nell'acqua della chiara fontana © 1961 Georges Brassens,
adaptation © 1968 Fabrizio De André


"Nell'acqua della chiara fontana" is a translation and adaptation of Georges Brassens's "Dans l'eau de la claire fontaine" (1962), another song that uses the medieval troubador song template seen in "Carlo Martello." At this time De André was still often presented in the press as a medievalist, hence the inclusion of "Nell'acqua," "S'i' fosse foco" and "Il re" on this album.





In the water of a clear spring
she was bathing all bare
when a breath of the north wind
carried her clothes off into the sky.

Through the thickness of her hair she asked me,
so as to dress herself again, to search
the branches of a hundred mimosas
and to weave branch with branch.

I wanted to cover her shoulders
completely with rose petals,
but her breast was so tiny
that just one rose was enough.

I searched yet more in the vineyard,
for halfway in it was no longer leafless,
but her hips were so tiny
that just one leaf was enough.

She held out her arms to me then
to thank me, a bit amazed.
I took her with such ardor
that she again was undressed.

The game amused the young lovely,
who over and over to the fountain
returned to wash herself, praying to God
for a breath of north wind.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume III, released in 1968 just three months after the release of Tutti morimmo a stento, included four new songs along with re-recorded versions of other songs released previously as singles. The new songs weren't originals, however: two translations of Georges Brassens songs, a 13th century Italian sonnet set to music, and a traditional 14th century French song. The lack of originals and the timing of the release points to the fact that De André's label wanted to release something on the heels of the huge success of the Mina cover of "Marinella" that was released at the end of 1967. Volume III had strong sales for two years following its release.
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