Sunday, November 2, 2014

Le nuvole:
    'A çimma - Boiled Stuffed Veal

Ti t'adesciàe 'nsce l'èndegu du matin
ch'à luxe a l'à 'n pè 'n tera e l'àtru in mà
ti t'ammiàe a ou spègiu de 'n tiànnin
ou cè s'ammia a ou spègiu da ruzà
   Ti sveglierai sull'indaco del mattino
   quando la luce ha un piede in terra
   e l' altro in mare
   ti guarderai allo specchio di un tegamino
   il cielo si guarda allo specchio della rugiada


ti mettiâe ou brûgu rèdennu'nte 'n cantùn
che se d'à cappa a sgùggia 'n cuxin-a stria
a xeùa de cuntà 'e pàgge che ghe sùn
'a cimma a l'è za pinn-a a l'è za cùxia
   metterai la scopa di saggina usata in un angolo
  che se dalla cappa scivola in cucina la strega
  a forza di contare le paglie che ci sono
  la cima è già piena è già cucita


Cè serèn tèra scùa
carne tènia nu fàte nèigra
nu turnà dùa
   Cielo sereno terra scura
   carne tenera non diventare nera
   non ritornare dura


Bell'oueggè strapunta de tùttu bun
prima de battezàlu 'ntou prebuggiun
cun dui aguggiuìn dritu 'n pùnta de pè
da sùrvia 'n zù fitu ti 'a punziggè
   Bel guanciale materasso di ogni ben di Dio
   prima di battezzarla nelle erbe aromatiche
   con due grossi aghi dritti in punta di piedi
   da sopra a sotto svelto la pungerai


àia de lùn-a vègia de ciaèu de nègia
ch'ou cègu ou pèrde 'a tèsta l'àse ou sentè
oudù de mà misciòu de pèrsa lègia
cos'àtru fa cos'àtru dàghe a ou cè
   aria di luna vecchia di chiarore di nebbia
   che il chierico perde la testa e l'asino il sentiero
   odore di mare mescolato a maggiorana leggera
   cos'altro fare cos'altro dare al cielo


Cè serèn tèra scùa
carne tènia nu fàte nèigra
nu turnà dùa
e 'nt'ou nùme de Maria
tùtti diài da sta pùgnatta
anène via
   Cielo sereno terra scura
   carne tenera non diventare nera
   non ritornare dura
   e nel nome di Maria
   tutti i diavoli da questa pentola
   andate via


Poi vegnan a pigiàtela i càmè
te lascian tùttu ou fùmmu d'ou toèu mestè
tucca a ou fantin à prima coutelà
mangè mangè nu sèi chi ve mangià
   Poi vengono a prendertela i camerieri
   ti lasciano tutto il fumo del tuo mestiere
   tocca allo scapolo la prima coltellata
   mangiate mangiate non sapete chi vi manger


Cè serèn tèra scùa
carne tènia nu fàte nèigra
nu turnà dùa
e 'nt'ou nùme de Maria
tùtti diài da sta pùgnatta
anène via.
   Cielo sereno terra scura
   carne tenera non diventare nera
   non ritornare dura
   e nel nome di Maria
   tutti i diavoli da questa pentola
   andate via


A çimma © 1990 Fabrizio De André/Ivano Fossati/Mauro Pagani

In "A çimma," a cook explains how a classic Genovese dish is made. A piece of meat usually taken from the stomach or breast of the young calf is folded and sewn on three sides to make a pocket that is then filled with many ingredients: innards, peas, eggs, cheese, spices, etc. The final side is sewn shut and the meat is boiled carefully in a broth for several hours, punctured with a needle from time to time to prevent the rupturing of the pocket as the ingredients expand. Traditionally, one must take care to prevent trouble from witches and devils who might be attracted by the intoxicating smells. And once done, the tradition is for the servants to remove the glorious cima, leaving the cook out of the picture with only the steam from the now empty pot. Also traditionally, a bachelor makes the first cut. The cook, with a touch of bitterness, tells everyone to eat because you never know who will be out to eat you.







You will wake up in the indigo of morning
when the light has one foot on land
and the other in the sea.
You'll look at yourself in the mirror of a frying pan,
the sky looks at itself in the mirror of rust.





You will put the well-used sorghum broom in a corner
so that, if from the stove hood a witch slips into the kitchen
due to her counting the straws that are there,
the veal is already stuffed and already sewn.




Clear sky, dark earth,
tender meat don’t become black,
don’t come out tough.





Beautiful pillow, mattress of every good of God,
before baptizing it in the aromatic herbs,
with two huge straight needles, on tiptoe,
from above to below quick you’ll prick it.





Air of full moon, of glimmer of fog,
when the clergyman loses his head and the donkey the path,
smell of the sea mixed with light marjoram,
what else to make, what else to give to heaven?







Clear sky, dark earth,
tender meat don’t become black,
don’t come out tough,
and in the name of Maria
all you devils from this pot
go away.





Then the house servants come to take it out for you,
they leave to you all the steam of your expertise.
It’s the bachelor’s turn, the first cut -
eat, eat, you don’t know who will eat you.







Clear sky, dark earth,
tender meat don’t become black,
don’t come out tough,
and in the name of Maria
all you devils from this pot
go away.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


It took six years after the tremendous success of Creuza de mä for De André to release his next studio album, Le nuvole (The Clouds). In the meantime, he and Mauro Pagani explored several avenues of musical collaboration which did not come to fruition. De André had this to say about Le nuvole: "I realized that people are just pissed off, and since Le nuvole is a symbol of this dissatisfaction, the transference, the intermediary for this general discontent, I would say that the album was welcomed almost as a banner, like an emblem of the anger in the face of a nation that is going to the dogs, and certainly not through any fault of the citizens." Additionally, Mauro Pagani said the album was a fantastic description of Italy in the 1980s, with parallels to Europe in the early 1800s: "Italy in the early 1980s was like Europe in 1815: the Congress of Vienna, the fall of the Napoleonic empire, the sharing of the goods among the winning powers, social classes built on wealth instead of aristocracy, a society of fake Christianity . . ." The title of and inspiration for the album came from the comedy of the same name by Aristophanes, whom De André greatly admired.
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