Sunday, December 1, 2013

Volume I:
   Carlo Martello ritorna dalla battaglia di Poitiers -
   Charles Martel Returns from the Battle of Poitiers

Re Carlo tornava dalla guerra
lo accoglie la sua terra
cingendolo d'allor

al sol della calda primavera
lampeggia l'armatura
del sire vincitor

il sangue del principe del Moro
arrossano il ciniero
d'identico color

ma più che del corpo le ferite
da Carlo son sentite
le bramosie d'amor

"se ansia di gloria e sete d'onore
spegne la guerra al vincitore
non ti concede un momento per fare all'amore

chi poi impone alla sposa soave
di castità la cintura ahimè è grave
in battaglia può correre il rischio di perder la chiave"

così si lamenta il Re cristiano
s'inchina intorno il grano
gli son corona i fior

lo specchio di chiara fontanella
riflette fiero in sella
dei Mori il vincitor

Quand'ecco nell'acqua si compone
mirabile visione
il simbolo d'amor

nel folto di lunghe trecce bionde
il seno si confonde
ignudo in pieno sol

"Mai non fu vista cosa più bella
mai io non colsi siffatta pulzella"
disse Re Carlo scendendo veloce di sella

"De' cavaliere non v'accostate
già d'altri è gaudio quel che cercate
ad altra più facile fonte la sete calmate"

Sorpreso da un dire sì deciso
sentendosi deriso
Re Carlo s'arrestò

ma più dell'onor poté il digiuno
fremente l'elmo bruno
il sire si levò

codesta era l'arma sua segreta
da Carlo spesso usata
in gran difficoltà

alla donna apparve un gran nasone
e un volto da caprone
ma era sua maestà

"Se voi non foste il mio sovrano"
Carlo si sfila il pesante spadone
"non celerei il disio di fuggirvi lontano,

ma poiché siete il mio signore"
Carlo si toglie l'intero gabbione
"debbo concedermi spoglia ad ogni pudore"

Cavaliere egli era assai valente
ed anche in quel frangente
d'onor si ricoprì

e giunto alla fin della tenzone
incerto sull'arcione
tentò di risalir

veloce lo arpiona la pulzella
repente una parcella
presenta al suo signor

"Beh proprio perché voi siete il sire
fan cinquemila lire
è un prezzo di favor"

"E' mai possibile o porco di un cane
che le avventure in codesto reame
debban risolversi tutte con grandi puttane,

anche sul prezzo c'è poi da ridire
ben mi ricordo che pria di partire
v'eran tariffe inferiori alle tremila lire"

Ciò detto agì da gran cialtrone
con balzo da leone
in sella si lanciò

frustando il cavallo come un ciuco
fra i glicini e il sambuco
il Re si dileguò

Re Carlo tornava dalla guerra
lo accoglie la sua terra
cingendolo d'allor

al sol della calda primavera
lampeggia l'armatura
del sire vincitor

Carlo Martello ritorna dalla battaglia di Poitiers © 1963 Fabrizio De André/Paolo Villagio

This song was released in 1963 as the B side of a 45 with "Il fannullone" as the A-side. The text was written by a friend from childhood, Paolo Villagio, and the music is by De André. The Battle of Poitiers occurred in 732, a battle between the Franks and the Moors in what is now northern France. The song is in the style of popular French pastourelles sung by medieval troubadours about encounters between knights and country girls. In 1965 a complaint was brought against De André and his label Karim for obscene content in the lyrics. The case was settled in De André's favor in 1968. The Italian in this song is an old style, and Riccardo Venturi has done a nice translation into a similarly "olde" style of English.



King Charles was returning from the war.
His land welcomes him,
crowning him with a laurel.

In the hot spring sun
flashes the suit of armor
of the victorious Sire.

The blood of the prince and the Moor
redden the crest,
of identical color.

But more than the wounds of the body,
Charles felt
the yearning for love.

“If eagerness for glory and a thirst for honor
extinguish war for the victor,
it allows you not a moment to pursue love.

"One, then, who imposes on the gentle wife
the chastity belt - alas it is heavy -
in battle can run the risk of losing the key.”

Thus complains the Christian king.
The grain bows down and
flowers gather about.

The mirror of the clear fountain
reflects, proud in his saddle,
the victor of the Moors.

When here in the water is formed,
marvelous vision,
the symbol of love -

in the fullness of the long blond braids
the breast intermingles,
naked in broad daylight.

“Never was seen something more beautiful,
never did I catch such a maid,”
said King Charles, dismounting quickly from his saddle.

“But oh, Knight, come no closer,
that which you seek is already the joy of another.
Quench your thirst from some easier spring.”

Surprised by a response so sharp,
feeling put down,
King Charles stopped.

But greater than honor was the power of abstinence.
Trembling, his brown helm
the King lifted off.

This was the secret weapon
by Charles often used
in dire straights -

to the woman appeared a big nose
and the face of a goat,
but it was her majesty.

“If you were not my sovereign,” -
Charles takes off his heavy sword -
“I wouldn’t conceal the desire to run far away."

"But since you are my Lord,” -
Charles frees himself from the prison of his armor -
“I must give myself over bare to every shame.”

He was indeed a valiant knight,
and even at that juncture
was covered again with honor.

And, conjoined at the end of the duel,
uncertain, the saddle
he tried to remount.

Quickly the maiden harpooned him.
Suddenly a bill
she presents to her Lord.

“Ah, just because you are my Lord,
it’s five thousand lira,
a special price.”

“It’s ever possible, son of a bitch,
that the adventures in this realm
should all end up with big whores.

"Even the price, then, can be criticized.
I remember well that before I left
there were lower prices of three thousand lira.”

Thus spoken, he acted like a scoundrel -
with the leap of a lion
he mounted his steed.

Whipping the horse as if it were a donkey,
through the wisteria and elderberries
the king disappeared.

King Charles returned from the war.
His land welcomes him,
crowning him with a laurel.

In the hot spring sun
flashes the suit of armor
of the victorious Sire.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser



Volume I is De André’s first full studio album, released in 1967 on the Bluebell label. It was produced by Gian Piero Reverberi and Andrea Malcotti. Reverberi shares writing credits on the music of six of the songs.
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