Saturday, March 8, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Il sogno di Maria - Maria's Dream

"Nel Grembo umido, scuro del tempio,
l'ombra era fredda, gonfia d'incenso;
l'angelo scese, come ogni sera,
ad insegnarmi una nuova preghiera:
poi, d'improvviso, mi sciolse le mani
e le mie braccia divennero ali,
quando mi chiese - Conosci l'estate
io, per un giorno, per un momento,
corsi a vedere il colore del vento.

Volammo davvero sopra le case,
oltre i cancelli, gli orti, le strade,
poi scivolammo tra valli fiorite
dove all'ulivo si abbraccia la vite.

Scendemmo là, dove il giorno si perde
a cercarsi da solo nascosto tra il verde,
e lui parlò come quando si prega,
ed alla fine d'ogni preghiera
contava una vertebra della mia schiena.

Le ombre lunghe dei sacerdoti
costrinsero il sogno in un cerchio di voci.
Con le ali di prima pensai di scappare
ma il braccio era nudo e non seppe volare:
poi vidi l'angelo mutarsi in cometa
e i volti severi divennero pietra,
le loro braccia profili di rami,
nei gesti immobili d'un altra vita,
foglie le mani, spine le dita.

Voci di strada, rumori di gente,
mi rubarono al sogno per ridarmi al presente.
Sbiadì l'immagine, stinse il colore,
ma l'eco lontana di brevi parole
ripeteva d'un angelo la strana preghiera
dove forse era sogno ma sonno non era

- Lo chiameranno figlio di Dio -
Parole confuse nella mia mente,
svanite in un sogno, ma impresse nel ventre."

E la parola ormai sfinita
si sciolse in pianto,
ma la paura dalle labbra
si raccolse negli occhi
semichiusi nel gesto
d'una quiete apparente
che si consuma nell'attesa
d'uno sguardo indulgente.

E tu, piano, posasti le dita
all'orlo della sua fronte:
i vecchi quando accarezzano
hanno il timore di far troppo forte.

Il sogno di Maria © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

"Il sogno di Maria" is De André's poetic rendering of the Immaculate Conception, in which Maria explains her situation to Joseph.


Anne Francois Louis Janmot (1814-1892) – Il volo dell’anima

“In the damp, dark womb of the temple
the shadow was cold, swelling with incense.
The angel came down, like every evening,
to teach me a new prayer:
then, all of a sudden, he opened my hands
and my arms became wings.
When he asked me, 'Do you know the summer?',
I, for one day, for one moment,
ran to see the color of the wind.

"We flew for real over the houses,
beyond the gates, the gardens, the roads,
then we slipped between flowered valleys
where the vine embraces the grape.

"We came down there, where the day gets lost
searching alone, hidden amidst the green,
and he talked as when one prays,
and at the end of each prayer
he counted one vertebra on my back."

"The long shadows of the priests
confined the dream in a circle of voices.
With wings, at first, I thought to escape,
but my arm was bare and I knew not how to fly.
Then I saw the angel change into a comet
and the severe faces became stone,
their arms outlines of branches
in unmoving gestures of another life,
their hands, leaves, their fingers, thorns.

"Voices on the street, people noises,
stole me from the dream to restore me to the present.
The image receded, the color faded,
but the distant echo of brief words
repeated the strange prayer of an angel
where maybe there was dream, but sleep there was not.

"'They called him son of God' -
jumbled words in my mind,
vanished in a dream, but stuck in the belly.”

And the word, by then exhausted,
dissolved in tears.
But fear from the lips
gathered in the eyes,
semi-closed in the gesture
of an outward stillness
that consumes itself pending
a forgiving gaze.

And you gently placed your fingers
at the edge of her forehead:
the elderly, when they caress,
have the fear of doing so too roughly.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition
Third edition


La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.
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