Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fabrizio De André:
    Se ti tagliassero a pezzetti
    If They Cut You into Pieces

Se ti tagliassero a pezzetti
il vento li raccoglierebbe
il regno dei ragni cucirebbe la pelle
e la luna tesserebbe i capelli e il viso
e il polline di Dio
di Dio il sorriso.

Ti ho trovata lungo il fiume
che suonavi una foglia di fiore
che cantavi parole leggere, parole d'amore
ho assaggiato le tue labbra di miele rosso rosso
ti ho detto dammi quello che vuoi, io quel che posso.

Rosa gialla rosa di rame
mai ballato così a lungo
lungo il filo della notte sulle pietre del giorno
io suonatore di chitarra io suonatore di mandolino
alla fine siamo caduti sopra il fieno.

Persa per molto persa per poco
presa sul serio presa per gioco
non c'è stato molto da dire o da pensare
la fortuna sorrideva come uno stagno a primavera
spettinata da tutti i venti della sera.

E adesso aspetterò domani
per avere nostalgia
signora libertà signorina fantasia
così preziosa come il vino così gratis come la tristezza
con la tua nuvola di dubbi e di bellezza.

T'ho incrociata alla stazione
che inseguivi il tuo profumo
presa in trappola da un tailleur grigio fumo
i giornali in una mano e nell'altra il tuo destino
camminavi fianco a fianco al tuo assassino.

Ma se ti tagliassero a pezzetti
il vento li raccoglierebbe
il regno dei ragni cucirebbe la pelle
e la luna la luna tesserebbe
i capelli e il viso
e il polline di Dio
di Dio il sorriso.

Se ti tagliassero a pezzetti © 1981 Fabrizio De André/Massimo Bubola

"Se ti tagliassero a pezzetti" is part love song and part paean to liberty. The song was inspired by a Native American hymn, reworked by De André and Bubola. In the 1990's, De André sometimes introduced the song in concert by saying it was "an attempt, even though allegorical, to kill liberty. But it couldn't be done, not even in allegory. On the other hand, we have seen even in practice that when people get a taste of liberty, it's very difficult to take it away from them, as can be seen with the Soviets."



If they cut you into little pieces,
the wind would gather them up,
the king of the spiders would sew the skin,
and the moon would weave together the hair and the face
and the pollen of God,
the smile of God.

I found you along the river,
you who were playing the leaf of a flower,
you who were singing gentle words, words of love.
I tasted your lips so very honey red,
I told you, “Give me what you want, I’ll what I can.”

Yellow rose, rose of copper,
I never danced so long
along the lines of the night, on the rocks of the day.
I, guitar player, I, mandolin player,
at the end we fell on the hay.

Lost for a long time, lost for a little,
taken seriously, taken lightly,
there wasn’t a lot to say or to think.
Fortune smiled like a pond in springtime,
disheveled by all the evening winds.

And now I'll wait for tomorrow
to feel nostalgic,
Lady Liberty, young Lady Fantasy,
so precious like wine, so free like sadness,
with your cloud of doubts and of beauty.

I encountered you at the station,
you who were chasing after your perfume,
caught in a trap by a smoke-grey two-piece suit,
newspapers in one hand and your destiny in the other -
you walked side by side with your assassin.

But if they cut you into little pieces,
the wind would gather them up,
the king of the spiders would sew the skin,
and the moon, the moon would weave together
the hair and the face
and the pollen of God,
the smile of God.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


The album Fabrizio De André is better known as L'indiano based on the cover (a Frederic Remington painting "The Outlier") as well as on the contents of the album. Released in 1981, the album grew out of deep reflections on the similarity between Sardinian culture and 19th century Native American culture. De André and his partner Dori Ghezzi had been kidnapped and held for almost four months in 1979 on the island of Sardinia, where De André lived much of the year. In his words, "an experience of this kind helps one rediscover fundamental values of life. You realize what it means to have warm feet, and what a great conquest it is to not have water dripping on your head while you sleep." De André and co-writer Massimo Bubola were familiar with the Native American story through books like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and movies like Little Big Man. De André's reflections on Sardinian and Cheyenne ways began as he sensed a similarity between the values of his captors (whom he refused to denounce at trial, stating they were the prisoners, not he) and those of Cheyenne warriors who risked death to steal horses from enemy tribes. He cited other similarities between the two peoples: economies based on subsistence not productivity, love and respect for nature, lack of interest in money beyond bare necessity, a great love for children, and both cultures being menaced by external forces invading traditional ways of life.
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