Sunday, February 9, 2014

Volume III:
   Il gorilla - The Gorilla (Georges Brassens)

Sulla piazza d'una città
la gente guardava con ammirazione
un gorilla portato là
dagli zingari di un baraccone
con poco senso del pudore
le comari di quel rione
contemplavano l’animale
non dico dove non dico come
attenti al gorilla!

d'improvviso la grossa gabbia
dove viveva l'animale
s'aprì di schianto non so perché
forse l'avevano chiusa male
la bestia uscendo fuori di là
disse: "quest'oggi me la levo"
parlava della verginità
di cui ancora viveva schiavo
attenti al gorilla!

il padrone si mise a urlare
"il mio gorilla, fate attenzione"
non ha veduto mai una scimmia
potrebbe fare confusione
tutti i presenti a questo punto
fuggirono in ogni direzione
anche le donne dimostrando
la differenza fra idea e azione
attenti al gorilla!

tutta la gente corre di fretta
di qua e di là con grande foga
si attardano solo una vecchietta
e un giovane giudice con la toga
visto che gli altri avevan squagliato
il quadrumane accelerò
e sulla vecchia e sul magistrato
con quattro salti si portò
attenti al gorilla!

"bah, sospirò pensando la vecchia,
ch'io fossi ancora desiderata
sarebbe cosa alquanto strana
e più che altro non sperata"
"che mi si prenda per una scimmia
pensava il giudice col fiato corto,
non è possibile, questo è sicuro"
il seguito prova che aveva torto
attenti al gorilla!

se qualcuno di voi dovesse
costretto con le spalle al muro,
violare un giudice od una vecchia
della sua scelta sarei sicuro
ma si dà il caso che il gorilla
considerato un grandioso fusto
da chi l'ha provato però non brilla
né per lo spirito né per il gusto
attenti al gorilla!

infatti lui, sdegnato la vecchia
si dirige sul magistrato
lo acchiappa forte per un'orecchia
e lo trascina in mezzo ad un prato
quello che avvenne fra l'erba alta
non posso dirlo per intero
ma lo spettacolo fu avvincente
e la "suspence" ci fu davvero
attenti al gorilla!

dirò soltanto che sul più bello
dello spiacevole e cupo dramma
piangeva il giudice come un vitello
negli intervalli gridava mamma
gridava mamma come quel tale
cui il giorno prima come ad un pollo
con una sentenza un po' originale
aveva fatto tagliare il collo.
attenti al gorilla!

Il gorilla © 1952 Georges Brassens, adaptation © 1968 Fabrizio De André

"Il gorilla" is a fairly faithful translation of one of Georges Brassens's most famous songs, "Le gorille" (1952). De André and Brassens shared a dislike of the powers-that-be in general, and the death penalty in particular.




On a city plaza
people were looking with admiration
at a gorilla brought there
by the gypsies of an amusement park.
With little sense of shame,
the neighbors of that district
contemplated the animal,
I’m not saying where or how.
Beware the gorilla!

All of a sudden the large cage
where the animal lived
burst open, I know not why,
perhaps they had closed it poorly.
The beast heading out of there
said, “Today I’ll take it off!”
He spoke of virginity,
to which he was still enslaved.
Beware the gorilla!

The owner began to shout
“My gorilla, watch out everyone!”
He’d never seen that an ape
could cause such confusion.
Everyone present at this point
fled in every direction,
even the women, demonstrating
the difference between idea and action.
Beware the gorilla!

All the people ran hurriedly
here and there with great determination.
Only a little old lady lingered behind,
and a young judge with robes.
Seeing that the others had melted away,
the four-handed ape sped up
and on the old lady and the magistrate
he descended with four leaps.
Beware the gorilla!

“Bah,” sighed the lady,
“that I could still be desirable
would be something rather strange
and, more than anything, unexpected.”
“That I am taken for an ape,”
thought the judge with a short breath,
“is impossible, this is certain.”
The following proves that he was wrong.
Beware the gorilla!

If some one of you had to,
forced with your back against the wall,
to violate a judge or a little old lady,
of your choice I would be certain.
But as it happens, the gorilla,
considered a grand hunk
by whosoever tried him, did not shine,
neither for his spirit nor for his taste.
Beware the gorilla!

In fact, scorning the old lady,
he set upon the magistrate.
He seized him firmly by one ear
and dragged him to the middle of a meadow.
That which transpired amidst the tall grass
I can’t tell you in its entirety,
but the spectacle was engrossing
and “suspense” was truly there.
Beware the gorilla!

I will say only that at the climax
of the unpleasant and gloomy drama
the judge wept like a calf,
and in the intervals cried “Mamma,”
cried “Mamma,” like that one who
the day before, as if he were a chicken,
with a sentence a bit unusual
he had ordered "Cut off his neck."
Beware the gorilla!

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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