Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo:
   La collina - The Hill

Dove se n'è andato Elmer
che di febbre si lasciò morire
Dov'è Herman bruciato in miniera.

Dove sono Bert e Tom
il primo ucciso in una rissa
e l'altro che uscì già morto di galera.

E cosa ne sarà di Charley
che cadde mentre lavorava
dal ponte volò e volò sulla strada.

Dormono, dormono sulla collina
dormono, dormono sulla collina.

Dove sono Ella e Kate
morte entrambe per errore
una di aborto, l'altra d'amore.

E Maggie uccisa in un bordello
dalle carezze di un animale
e Edith consumata da uno strano male.

E Lizzie che inseguì la vita
lontano, e dall'Inghilterra
fu riportata in questo palmo di terra.

Dormono, dormono sulla collina
dormono, dormono sulla collina.

Dove sono i generali
che si fregiarono nelle battaglie
con cimiteri di croci sul petto

dove i figli della guerra
partiti per un ideale
per una truffa, per un amore finito male

hanno rimandato a casa
le loro spoglie nelle barriere
legate strette perché sembrassero intere.

Dormono, dormono sulla collina
dormono, dormono sulla collina.

Dov'è Jones il suonatore
che fu sorpreso dai suoi novant'anni
e con la vita avrebbe ancora giocato.

Lui che offrì la faccia al vento
la gola al vino e mai un pensiero
non al denaro, non all'amore né al cielo.

Lui sì sembra di sentirlo
cianciare ancora delle porcate
mangiate in strada nelle ore sbagliate

sembra di sentirlo ancora
dire al mercante di liquore
"Tu che lo vendi cosa ti compri di migliore?"

La collina © 1971 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
Nicola Piovani


"The Hill" is the opening poem of The Spoon River Anthology and sets the stage for the book's 240 poems from 212 different characters that follow.

Where’d Elmer go,
who left himself to die of fever?
Where’s Herman, burned in a mine?

Where are Bert and Tom,
the first one killed in a brawl
and the other who got out of jail dead already?

And what of Charley,
who fell while working?
From a bridge he flew, flew onto the road.

They’re sleeping, they’re sleeping on the hill,
they’re sleeping, they’re sleeping on the hill.

Where are Ella and Kate,
both dead by mistake,
one from an abortion, the other of love?

And Maggie, killed in a brothel
by the caresses of a brute?
And Edith consumed by a strange illness?

And Lizzie who pursued life
far away, and from England
was carried back to this palm of earth?

They’re sleeping, they’re sleeping on the hill,
they’re sleeping, they’re sleeping on the hill.

Where are the generals,
who decorate themselves in the battles
with cemeteries of crosses on their chests?

Where the sons of the war,
departed for an ideal,
for a fraud, for a love that ended poorly?

They sent home
their remains in the barriers,
bound tight so they seemed of one piece.

They’re sleeping, they’re sleeping on the hill,
they’re sleeping, they’re sleeping on the hill.

Where is Jones the player,
who was surprised by his ninety years
and would still have played with life?

He who offered his face to the wind,
his throat to the wine, and never a thought
to money, to love, nor to heaven.

Yes, it seems one can hear him
still prattling on about the crap
eaten on the streets in the wrong hours.

It seems you can still hear him
saying to the liquor merchant,
“You who sell it, what do you buy for yourself that’s better?”

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo, released in 1971, is a concept album inspired by poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915 and translated into Italian in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano. Each poem tells the story, as an epitaph, of one of the denizens of the fictional small town Spoon River. De André read and liked the book when he was 18, and when he re-read it years later was again struck by the relevance of the stories and the lives therein. He wanted to show, with the nine poems he chose, some aspects of life related to envy, love and the failure of science. The album was an immediate success upon its release.
The Hill – Edgar Lee Masters

Where are Elmer, Herman, Bert, Tom, and Charley,
The weak of will, the strong of arm, the clown, the boozer, the fighter?
All, all, are sleeping on the hill.

One passed in a fever,
One was burned in a mine,
One was killed in a brawl,
One died in jail,
One fell from a bridge toiling for children and wife--
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.

Where are Ella, Kate, Mag, Lizzie, and Edith,
The tender heart, the simple soul, the loud, the proud, the happy one?--
All, all, are sleeping on the hill.

One died in shameful child-birth,
One of a thwarted love,
One at the hands of a brute in a brothel,
One of a broken pride, in a search for a heart's desire,
One after life in faraway London and Paris
Was brought to her little space by Ella and Kate and Mag--
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.

Where are Uncle Issac and Aunt Emily,
And old Towny Kincaid and Sevigne Houghton,
And Major Walker who had talked
With venerable men of the revolution?--
All, all, are sleeping on the hill.

They brought them dead sons from the war,
And daughters whom life had crushed,
And their children fatherless, crying--
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.

Where is old Fiddler Jones
Who played with life all his ninety years,
Braving the sleet with bared breast,
Drinking, rioting, thinking neither of wife nor kin,
Nor gold, nor love, nor heaven?
Lo! he babbles of the fish-frys of long ago,
Of the horse-races long ago at Clary's Grove,
Of what Abe Lincoln said
One time at Springfield.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo:
   Un matto (dietro ogni scemo c’è un villaggio) -
   A Madman (behind every fool there’s a village)

Tu prova ad avere un mondo nel cuore
e non riesci ad esprimerlo con le parole,
e la luce del giorno si divide la piazza
tra un villaggio che ride e te, lo scemo, che passa,
e neppure la notte ti lascia da solo:
gli altri sognan se stessi e tu sogni di loro

E sì, anche tu andresti a cercare
le parole sicure per farti ascoltare:
per stupire mezz'ora basta un libro di storia,
io cercai di imparare la Treccani a memoria,
e dopo maiale, Majakowsky, malfatto,
continuarono gli altri fino a leggermi matto.

E senza sapere a chi dovessi la vita
in un manicomio io l'ho restituita:
qui sulla collina dormo malvolentieri
eppure c'è luce ormai nei miei pensieri,
qui nella penombra ora invento parole
ma rimpiango una luce, la luce del sole.

Le mie ossa regalano ancora alla vita:
le regalano ancora erba fiorita.
Ma la vita è rimasta nelle voci in sordina
di chi ha perso lo scemo e lo piange in collina;
di chi ancora bisbiglia con la stessa ironia
"Una morte pietosa lo strappò alla pazzia".

Un matto © 1971 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
Nicola Piovani


"Un matto" is based on "Frank Drummer."



You try to have a world in your heart
and can’t manage to express it with words,
and the light of day separates the plaza
into a laughing village and you, the fool, who passes.
And not even the night leaves you alone:
the others dream of themselves and you dream of them.

And yes, even you would go to search
for the words certain to make them listen to you:
to amaze for a half hour, a book of history is enough.
I tried to learn the Encyclopedia Treccani by heart,
and after 'pig,' 'Majakowsky,' 'messy,'
the others continued on until they read me 'crazy.'

And without knowing to whom I owed my life,
to a madhouse I returned it:
here on the hill I sleep unwillingly.
yet by now there is light in my thoughts.
Here in the semi-darkness, now I invent words,
though I miss a light, the light of the sun.

My bones are still giving to life:
they’re still giving it flowery grass.
But life remained in the voices on the sly
of those who lost the fool and mourn for him in the hill,
of those who still whisper with the same irony,
“A merciful death tore him out of craziness.”

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo, released in 1971, is a concept album inspired by poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915 and translated into Italian in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano (below, with De André). Each poem tells the story, as an epitaph, of one of the denizens of the fictional small town Spoon River. De André read and liked the book when he was 18, and when he re-read it years later was again struck by the relevance of the stories and the lives therein. He wanted to show, with the nine poems he chose, some aspects of life related to envy, love and the failure of science. The album was an immediate success upon its release.
Frank Drummer – Edgar Lee Masters

Out of a cell into this darkened space --
The end at twenty-five!
My tongue could not speak what stirred within me,
And the village thought me a fool.
Yet at the start there was a clear vision,
A high and urgent purpose in my soul
Which drove me on trying to memorize
The Encyclopedia Britannica!


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Monday, April 7, 2014

Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo:
   Un giudice - A Judge

Cosa vuol dire avere
un metro e mezzo di statura,
ve lo rivelan gli occhi
e le battute della gente,
o la curiosità
d'una ragazza irriverente
che vi avvicina solo
per un suo dubbio impertinente:

vuole scoprir se è vero
quanto si dice intorno ai nani,
che siano i più forniti
della virtù meno apparente,
fra tutte le virtù
la più indecente.

Passano gli anni, i mesi,
e se li conti anche i minuti,
è triste trovarsi adulti
senza essere cresciuti;
la maldicenza insiste,
batte la lingua sul tamburo
fino a dire che un nano
è una carogna di sicuro
perché ha il cuore troppo
troppo vicino al buco del culo.

Fu nelle notti insonni
vegliate al lume del rancore
che preparai gli esami
diventai procuratore
per imboccar la strada
che dalle panche d'una cattedrale
porta alla sacrestia
quindi alla cattedra d'un tribunale
giudice finalmente,
arbitro in terra del bene e del male.

E allora la mia statura
non dispensò più buonumore
a chi alla sbarra in piedi
mi diceva "Vostro Onore",
e di affidarli al boia
fu un piacere del tutto mio,
prima di genuflettermi
nell'ora dell'addio
non conoscendo affatto
la statura di Dio.

Un giudice © 1971 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
Nicola Piovani


"Un giudice" is based on "Judge Selah Lively."



What does it mean to be
a meter and a half in height?
The eyes reveal it to you,
and the jibes of the people,
or the curiosity
of an irreverent young girl
who approaches you only
for one of her impertinent doubts:

she wants to discover if it is true
what is said about dwarves,
that they are provided most
with the virtue least apparent,
among all the virtues,
the one most indecent.

The years pass, the months,
and if you count them, also the minutes.
It is sad to find oneself an adult
without being grown.
The taunting persists,
the tongue beats the drum
until it says that a dwarf
is a swine for sure,
because its heart is too,
too close to its asshole.

It was in the sleepless nights,
wakeful by the light of resentment,
that I prepared for the exams.
I became an attorney
to take the road
that from the benches of a cathedral
led to the vestry,
then to the desk of a court,
judge, finally,
arbiter in the land of good and evil.

And then my height
no longer dispensed good humor
to those standing at the bar
who said to me, “Your Honor.”
And to entrust them to the executioner
was a pleasure all mine,
before they kneeled down before me
in the hour of their farewell,
not knowing in the least
the height of God.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo, released in 1971, is a concept album inspired by poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915 and translated into Italian in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano. Each poem tells the story, as an epitaph, of one of the denizens of the fictional small town Spoon River. De André read and liked the book when he was 18, and when he re-read it years later was again struck by the relevance of the stories and the lives therein. He wanted to show, with the nine poems he chose, some aspects of life related to envy, love and the failure of science. The album was an immediate success upon its release.
Judge Selah Lively – Edgar Lee Masters

Suppose you stood just five feet two,
And had worked your way as a grocery clerk,
Studying law by candle light
Until you became an attorney at law?
And then suppose through your diligence,
And regular church attendance,
You became attorney for Thomas Rhodes,
Collecting notes and mortgages,
And representing all the widows
In the Probate Court? And through it all
They jeered at your size, and laughed at your clothes
And your polished boots? And then suppose
You became the County Judge?
And Jefferson Howard and Kinsey Keene,
And Harmon Whitney, and all the giants
Who had sneered at you, were forced to stand
Before the bar and say "Your Honor" --
Well, don't you think it was natural
That I made it hard for them?


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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo:
   Un blasfemo (dietro ogni blasfemo c’è un giardino incantato) -
   A Blasphemer (behind every blasphemer there’s an enchanted garden)

Mai più mi chinai e nemmeno su un fiore,
più non arrossii nel rubare l'amore
dal momento che Inverno mi convinse che Dio
non sarebbe arrossito rubandomi il mio.

Mi arrestarono un giorno per le donne ed il vino,
non avevano leggi per punire un blasfemo,
non mi uccise la morte, ma due guardie bigotte,
mi cercarono l'anima a forza di botte.

Perché dissi che Dio imbrogliò il primo uomo,
lo costrinse a viaggiare una vita da scemo,
nel giardino incantato lo costrinse a sognare,
a ignorare che al mondo c'e' il bene e c'è il male.

Quando vide che l'uomo allungava le dita
a rubargli il mistero di una mela proibita
per paura che ormai non avesse padroni
lo fermò con la morte, inventò le stagioni.

... mi cercarono l'anima a forza di botte...

E se furon due guardie a fermarmi la vita,
è proprio qui sulla terra la mela proibita,
e non Dio, ma qualcuno che per noi l'ha inventato,
ci costringe a sognare in un giardino incantato,
ci costringe a sognare in un giardino incantato
ci costringe a sognare in un giardino incantato.

Un blasfemo © 1971 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
Nicola Piovani


"Un blasfemo" is based on "Wendell P. Bloyd."



I never again bent down, not even over a flower.
I blushed no more in stealing love,
from the moment Winter convinced me that God
would not be blushed stealing mine from me.

They arrested me one day for the women and the wine.
They didn’t have laws to punish a blasphemer.
Death didn’t kill me, but two holier-than-thou guards
searched my soul with the force of blows.

Because I said that God deceived the first man.
He forced him to travel life as a fool.
In the enchanted garden He forced him to dream,
to ignore that there's both good and evil in the world.

When He saw that the man stretched his fingers
to steal the mystery of a prohibited apple,
fearing that by then he had no masters
He stopped him with death, He invented the seasons.

. . . They searched my soul with the force of blows. . .

And if there were two guards to stop my life,
it is only here on earth the prohibited apple.
And not God, but someone who invented it for us.
forces us to dream in an enchanted garden,
forces us to dream in an enchanted garden,
forces us to dream in an enchanted garden.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo, released in 1971, is a concept album inspired by poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915 and translated into Italian in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano. Each poem tells the story, as an epitaph, of one of the denizens of the fictional small town Spoon River. De André read and liked the book when he was 18, and when he re-read it years later was again struck by the relevance of the stories and the lives therein. He wanted to show, with the nine poems he chose, some aspects of life related to envy, love and the failure of science. The album was an immediate success upon its release.
Wendell P. Bloyd – Edgar Lee Masters

They first charged me with disorderly conduct,
There being no statute on blasphemy.
Later they locked me up as insane
Where I was beaten to death by a Catholic guard.
My offense was this:
I said God lied to Adam, and destined him
to lead the life of a fool,
Ignorant that there is evil in the world as well as good.
And when Adam outwitted God by eating the apple
And saw through the lie,
God drove him out of Eden to keep him from taking
The fruit of immortal life.
For Christ's sake, you sensible people,
Here's what God Himself says about it in the book of Genesis:
"And the Lord God said, behold the man
Is become as one of us" (a little envy, you see),
"To know good and evil" (The all-is-good lie exposed):
"And now lest he put forth his hand and take
Also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever:
Therefore the Lord God sent Him forth from the Garden of Eden."
(The reason I believe God crucified His Own Son
To get out of the wretched tangle is, because it
sounds just like Him).


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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo:
   Un malato di cuore - A Heart Patient

"Cominciai a sognare anch'io insieme a loro
poi l'anima d'improvviso prese il volo."

Da ragazzo spiare i ragazzi giocare
al ritmo balordo del tuo cuore malato
e ti viene la voglia di uscire e provare
che cosa ti manca per correre al prato,
e ti tieni la voglia, e rimani a pensare
come diavolo fanno a riprendere fiato.

Da uomo avvertire il tempo sprecato
a farti narrare la vita dagli occhi
e mai poter bere alla coppa d'un fiato
ma a piccoli sorsi interrotti,
e mai poter bere alla coppa d'un fiato
ma a piccoli sorsi interrotti.

Eppure un sorriso io l'ho regalato
e ancora ritorna in ogni sua estate
quando io la guidai o fui forse guidato
a contarle i capelli con le mani sudate.

Non credo che chiesi promesse al suo sguardo,
non mi sembra che scelsi il silenzio o la voce,
quando il cuore stordì e ora no, non ricordo
se fu troppo sgomento o troppo felice,
e il cuore impazzì e ora no, non ricordo,
da quale orizzonte sfumasse la luce.

E fra lo spettacolo dolce dell'erba
fra lunghe carezze finite sul volto,
quelle sue cosce color madreperla
rimasero forse un fiore non colto.

Ma che la baciai questo sì lo ricordo
col cuore ormai sulle labbra,
ma che la baciai, per Dio, sì lo ricordo,
e il mio cuore le restò sulle labbra.

"E l'anima d'improvviso prese il volo
ma non mi sento di sognare con loro
no non si riesce di sognare con loro."

Un malato di cuore © 1971 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
Nicola Piovani


"Un malato di cuore" is based on "Francis Turner."



“I too began dreaming along with them,
then suddenly my soul took flight.”

You're a boy spying the kids playing,
at the senseless rhythm of your sick heart,
and you get the urge to go out and try -
what do you lack for running in the meadow? -
and you hold the urge, and you stay put to think,
"How the devil do they recover their breath?"

You're a man sensing the time wasted
on making your eyes narrate life to you,
and never being able to drink a cup in one gulp,
but in little interrupted sips;
and never being able to drink a cup in one gulp,
but in little interrupted sips.

And yet a smile I did give,
and it still returns in every one of her summers
when I guided her, or maybe I was guided,
to count her hairs with sweaty hands.

I don’t believe I asked her gaze for promises,
it doesn’t seem to me that I chose silence or voice
when the heart stunned, and now, no, I don’t recall
if it was too dismayed or too happy,
and my heart went crazy, and now, no, I don’t recall
from which horizon the light faded away.

And amidst the sweet entertainment on the grass,
between long caresses concluded on the face,
those mother-of-pearl colored thighs of hers
remained, perhaps an unpicked flower.

But that I kissed her, this, yes, I remember,
with my heart by then on her lips.
But that I kissed her, by God, yes I remember.
and my heart stayed on her lips.

“And the soul suddenly took flight,
but I don’t feel like dreaming with them.
No, one can’t manage to dream with them.”

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo, released in 1971, is a concept album inspired by poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915 and translated into Italian in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano. Each poem tells the story, as an epitaph, of one of the denizens of the fictional small town Spoon River. De André read and liked the book when he was 18, and when he re-read it years later was again struck by the relevance of the stories and the lives therein. He wanted to show, with the nine poems he chose, some aspects of life related to envy, love and the failure of science. The album was an immediate success upon its release.
Francis Turner – Edgar Lee Masters

I could not run or play
In boyhood.
In manhood I could only sip the cup,
Not drink --
For scarlet-fever left my heart diseased.
Yet I lie here
Soothed by a secret none but Mary knows:
There is a garden of acacia,
Catalpa trees, and arbors sweet with vines --
There on that afternoon in June
By Mary's side --
Kissing her with my soul upon my lips
It suddenly took flight.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo:
   Un medico - A Doctor

Da bambino volevo guarire i ciliegi
quando rossi di frutti li credevo feriti
la salute per me li aveva lasciati
coi fiori di neve che avevan perduti.

Un sogno, fu un sogno ma non durò poco
per questo giurai che avrei fatto il dottore
e non per un dio ma nemmeno per gioco:
perché i ciliegi tornassero in fiore,
perché i ciliegi tornassero in fiore.

E quando dottore lo fui finalmente
non volli tradire il bambino per l'uomo
e vennero in tanti e si chiamavano "gente"
ciliegi malati in ogni stagione.

E i colleghi d'accordo i colleghi contenti
nel leggermi in cuore tanta voglia d'amare
mi spedirono il meglio dei loro clienti
con la diagnosi in faccia
e per tutti era uguale:
ammalato di fame incapace a pagare.

E allora capii fui costretto a capire
che fare il dottore è soltanto un mestiere
che la scienza non puoi regalarla alla gente
se non vuoi ammalarti dell'identico male,
se non vuoi che il sistema ti pigli per fame.

E il sistema sicuro è pigliarti per fame
nei tuoi figli in tua moglie che ormai ti disprezza,
perciò chiusi in bottiglia quei fiori di neve,
l'etichetta diceva: elisir di giovinezza.

E un giudice, un giudice con la faccia da uomo
mi spedì a sfogliare i tramonti in prigione
inutile al mondo ed alle mie dita
bollato per sempre truffatore imbroglione
dottor professor truffatore imbroglione.

Un medico © 1971 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
Nicola Piovani


"Un medico is based on "Dr. Siegfried Iseman."



As a child I wanted to heal cherry trees
when, red with fruit, I believed them injured.
For me, health had left them
with the snowy flowers they’d lost.

A dream, it was a dream, but it wasn't short-lived.
For this I swore that I would become a doctor,
and not for a god, nor either for play:
so that the cherry trees would return in bloom,
so that the cherry trees would return in bloom.

And when I was a doctor finally,
I didn’t want to betray the child for the man,
and so many came and they called themselves “people,"
sick cherry trees in every season.

And my colleagues in agreement, contented colleagues,
reading in my heart so much desire to love,
sent me their best clients,
with the diagnosis on their faces -
and for everyone it was the same:
sick with hunger, unable to pay.

And then I realized I had to understand
that being a doctor is just a job,
that you can’t give the science to people
if you don’t want to fall sick with the identical ailment,
if you don’t want the system to starve you into submission.

And the reliable system is to starve you into submission,
in your children, in your wife, who now despise you.
Therefore I sealed in a bottle those snowy flowers.
The label said: elixir of youth.

And a judge, a judge with the face of a man,
sent me off to leaf through sunsets in prison,
useless to the world and to my fingers,
branded forever a swindler, a crook,
doctor, professor, swindler, crook.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo, released in 1971, is a concept album inspired by poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915 and translated into Italian in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano. Each poem tells the story, as an epitaph, of one of the denizens of the fictional small town Spoon River. De André read and liked the book when he was 18, and when he re-read it years later was again struck by the relevance of the stories and the lives therein. He wanted to show, with the nine poems he chose, some aspects of life related to envy, love and the failure of science. The album was an immediate success upon its release.
Dr. Siegfried Iseman – Edgar Lee Masters

I said when they handed me my diploma,
I said to myself I will be good
And wise and brave and helpful to others;
I said I will carry the Christian creed
Into the practice of medicine!
Somehow the world and the other doctors
Know what's in your heart as soon as you make
This high-souled resolution.
And the way of it is they starve you out.
And no one comes to you but the poor.
And you find too late that being a doctor
Is just a way of making a living.
And when you are poor and have to carry
The Christian creed and wife and children
All on your back, it is too much!
That's why I made the Elixir of Youth,
Which landed me in the jail at Peoria
Branded a swindler and a crook
By the upright Federal Judge!


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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo:
   Un chimico - A Chemist

Solo la morte m'ha portato in collina
un corpo fra i tanti a dar fosforo all'aria
per bivacchi di fuochi che dicono fatui
che non lasciano cenere, non sciolgon la brina.
Solo la morte m'ha portato in collina.

Da chimico un giorno avevo il potere
di sposare gli elementi e di farli reagire,
ma gli uomini mai mi riuscì di capire
perché si combinassero attraverso l'amore.
Affidando ad un gioco la gioia e il dolore.

Guardate il sorriso guardate il colore
come giocan sul viso di chi cerca l'amore:
ma lo stesso sorriso lo stesso colore
dove sono sul viso di chi ha avuto l'amore.
Dove sono sul viso di chi ha avuto l'amore.

È strano andarsene senza soffrire,
senza un volto di donna da dover ricordare.
Ma è forse diverso il vostro morire
vuoi che uscite all'amore che cedete all'aprile.
Cosa c'è di diverso nel vostro morire.

Primavera non bussa lei entra sicura
come il fumo lei penetra in ogni fessura
ha le labbra di carne i capelli di grano
che paura, che voglia che ti prenda per mano.
Che paura, che voglia che ti porti lontano.

Ma guardate l'idrogeno tacere nel mare
guardate l'ossigeno al suo fianco dormire:
soltanto una legge che io riesco a capire
ha potuto sposarli senza farli scoppiare.
Soltanto la legge che io riesco a capire.

Fui chimico e, no, non mi volli sposare.
Non sapevo con chi e chi avrei generato:
Son morto in un esperimento sbagliato
proprio come gli idioti che muoion d'amore.
E qualcuno dirà che c'è un modo migliore.

Un chimico © 1971 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
Nicola Piovani


"Un chimico" is based on "Trainor the Druggist."


Only death brought me to the hill,
a body among so many to give phosphorus to the air,
for campfires they call ghost-lights
that leave no ashes nor dissolve the frost.
Only death has brought me to the hill.

As a chemist, at one time I had the power
to marry the elements and make them react.
But people I never managed to understand,
because they combined through love.
Entrusting joy and sorrow to a game.

Look at the smile, look at the color,
as they play on the face of one searching for love:
but the same smile, the same color,
where are they on the face of one who has love?
Where are they on the face of one who has love?

It’s strange to go away without suffering,
without the face of a woman one must remember.
But perhaps it’s different your dying,
you who go out into love, who surrender to April.
What’s different in your dying?

Spring doesn’t knock, it enters sure
like smoke, it penetrates every fissure.
It has lips of flesh and corn hair -
what fear, what desire that takes you by the hand.
What fear, what desire that you carry afar.

But look at hydrogen keeping quiet in the sea,
look at oxygen sleeping by your side:
only one law that I manage to understand
was able to marry them without making them explode.
Only one law that I manage to understand.

I was a chemist, and no, I didn’t want to marry.
I didn’t know with whom, and whom I would have produced.
I am dead in an experiment gone wrong,
just like the idiots that die of love.
And someone will say there’s a better way.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo, released in 1971, is a concept album inspired by poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915 and translated into Italian in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano. Each poem tells the story, as an epitaph, of one of the denizens of the fictional small town Spoon River. De André read and liked the book when he was 18, and when he re-read it years later was again struck by the relevance of the stories and the lives therein. He wanted to show, with the nine poems he chose, some aspects of life related to envy, love and the failure of science. The album was an immediate success upon its release.
Trainor the Druggist – Edgar Lee Masters

Only the chemist can tell, and not always the chemist,
What will result from compounding
Fluids or solids.
And who can tell
How men and women will interact
On each other, or what children will result?
There were Benjamin Pantier and his wife,
Good in themselves, but evil toward each other:
He oxygen, she hydrogen,
Their son, a devastating fire.
I Trainor, the druggist, a mixer of chemicals,
Killed while making an experiment,
Lived unwedded.


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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo:
   Un ottico - An Optician

Prima parte:
Daltonici, presbiti, mendicanti di vista
il mercante di luce, il vostro oculista,
ora vuole soltanto clienti speciali
che non sanno che farne di occhi normali.

Non più ottico ma spacciatore di lenti
per improvvisare occhi contenti,
perché le pupille abituate a copiare
inventino i mondi sui quali guardare.
Seguite con me questi occhi sognare,
fuggire dall'orbita e non voler ritornare.

Seconda parte:
Primo cliente -
Vedo che salgo a rubare il sole
per non aver più notti,
perché non cada in reti di tramonto,
l'ho chiuso nei miei occhi,
e chi avrà freddo
lungo il mio sguardo si dovrà scaldare.

Secondo cliente -
Vedo i fiumi dentro le mie vene,
cercano il loro mare,
rompono gli argini,
trovano cieli da fotografare.
Sangue che scorre senza fantasia
porta tumori di malinconia.

Terzo cliente -
Vedo gendarmi pascolare
donne chine sulla rugiada,
rosse le lingue al polline dei fiori
ma dov'è l'ape regina?
Forse è volata ai nidi dell'aurora,
forse volata, forse più non vola.

Quarto cliente -
Vedo gli amici ancora sulla strada,
loro non hanno fretta,
rubano ancora al sonno l'allegria
all'alba un po' di notte:
e poi la luce, luce che trasforma
il mondo in un giocattolo.

Faremo gli occhiali così!
Faremo gli occhiali così!

Un ottico © 1971 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
Nicola Piovani


"Un ottico" is based on "Dippold the Optician."



First part:
All you color blind, you far-sighted, beggars for eyesight,
the merchant of light, your eye doctor,
now wants only special customers
who don’t know what to do with normal eyes.

No longer optician, but lens peddler,
for improvising happy eyes
so that the pupils, used to copying,
might invent worlds to look upon.
Follow with me these eyes, dreaming,
escaping from orbit and not wanting to return.

Second part:
First customer –
I see that I go up to steal the sun
to have nights no more.
So it doesn’t fall into the trap of sunset,
I’ve locked it up in my eyes,
and whoever might be cold
will have to warm up beside my gaze.

Second customer –
I see rivers inside my veins,
they’re searching for their sea,
they’re breaking out from their banks,
they’re finding skies to photograph.
Blood that flows without fantasy
carries tumors of melancholy.

Third customer –
I see gendarmes pasturing
women bent over the dew,
red their tongues at the flower pollen.
But where is the queen bee?
Perhaps she flew to the nests of dawn.
Perhaps having flown, maybe she flies no more.

Fourth customer –
I see friends still on the street.
They’re not in a hurry,
they still steal gaiety from sleep,
a bit of night from the dawn:
and then the light, light that transforms
the world into a toy.

We’ll make glasses like this!
We’ll make glasses like this!

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo, released in 1971, is a concept album inspired by poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915 and translated into Italian in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano. Each poem tells the story, as an epitaph, of one of the denizens of the fictional small town Spoon River. De André read and liked the book when he was 18, and when he re-read it years later was again struck by the relevance of the stories and the lives therein. He wanted to show, with the nine poems he chose, some aspects of life related to envy, love and the failure of science. The album was an immediate success upon its release.
Dippold the Optician – Edgar Lee Masters

What do you see now?
Globes of red, yellow, purple.
Just a moment! And now?
My father and mother and sisters.
Yes! And now?
Knights at arms, beautiful women, kind faces.
Try this.
A field of grain—a city.
Very good! And now?
A young woman with angels bending over her.
A heavier lens! And now?
Many women with bright eyes and open lips.
Try this.
Just a goblet on a table.
Oh I see! Try this lens!
Just an open space—I see nothing in particular.
Well, now!
Pine trees, a lake, a summer sky.
That’s better. And now?
A book.
Read a page for me.
I can’t. My eyes are carried beyond the page.
Try this lens.
Depths of air.
Excellent! And now?
Light, just light, making everything below it a toy world.
Very well, we’ll make the glasses accordingly.


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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo:
   Il suonatore Jones - Jones the Player

In un vortice di polvere
gli altri vedevan siccità,
a me ricordava la gonna di Jenny
in un ballo di tanti anni fa.

Sentivo la mia terra
vibrare di suoni, era il mio cuore
e allora perché coltivarla ancora,
come pensarla migliore.

Libertà l'ho vista dormire
nei campi coltivati
a cielo e denaro, a cielo ed amore,
protetta da un filo spinato.

Libertà l'ho vista svegliarsi
ogni volta che ho suonato
per un fruscio di ragazze a un ballo,
per un compagno ubriaco.

E poi se la gente sa,
e la gente lo sa che sai suonare,
suonare ti tocca per tutta la vita
e ti piace lasciarti ascoltare.

Finii con i campi alle ortiche
finii con un flauto spezzato
e un ridere rauco, ricordi tanti
e nemmeno un rimpianto.

Il suonatore Jones © 1971 Fabrizio De André/Giuseppe Bentivoglio/
Nicola Piovani


"Il suonatore Jones" is based on "Fiddler Jones."



In a whirl of dust,
others would see drought.
It reminded me of Jenny’s skirt
in a dance so many years ago.

I felt my land
quivering with sounds - 'twas my heart -
and then why cultivate it still?
How to think it could be better?

I saw liberty sleeping
in crop fields
of heaven and money, of heaven and love,
protected by barbed wire.

I saw liberty wake up
every time I played
for a swoosh of girls at a dance,
for a drunk companion.

And then if people know,
and people do know that you know how to play,
you have to play for all your life,
and you like letting them listen to you.

I ended up with the fields gone to nettles,
I ended up with a broken flute
and a hoarse laugh, so many memories,
and not even one regret.

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser


Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo, released in 1971, is a concept album inspired by poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915 and translated into Italian in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano. Each poem tells the story, as an epitaph, of one of the denizens of the fictional small town Spoon River. De André read and liked the book when he was 18, and when he re-read it years later was again struck by the relevance of the stories and the lives therein. He wanted to show, with the nine poems he chose, some aspects of life related to envy, love and the failure of science. The album was an immediate success upon its release.
Fiddler Jones – Edgar Lee Masters

The earth keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind's in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off to 'Toor-a-Loor.'
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill--only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle--
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.


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