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 carries you far away.

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