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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