Thursday, March 6, 2014

La Buona Novella:
   Maria nella bottega d'un falegname -
   Maria in the Carpenter's Workshop

"Falegname col martello
perché fai den den?
Con la pialla su quel legno
perché fai fren fren?
Costruisci le stampelle
per chi in guerra andò?
Dalla Nubia sulle mani
a casa ritornò?"

Il falegname:
"Mio martello non colpisce,
pialla mia non taglia
per foggiare gambe nuove
a chi le offrì in battaglia,
ma tre croci, due per chi
disertò per rubare,
la più grande per chi guerra
insegnò a disertare".

La gente:
"Alle tempie addormentate
di questa città
pulsa il cuore di un martello,
quando smetterà?
Falegname, su quel legno,
quanti corpi ormai,
quanto ancora con la pialla
lo assottiglierai?"

"Alle piaghe, alle ferite
che sul legno fai,
falegname su quei tagli
manca il sangue, ormai,
perché spieghino da soli,
con le loro voci,
quali volti sbiancheranno
sopra le tue croci".

Il falegname:
"Questi ceppi che han portato
perché il mio sudore
li trasformi nell'immagine
di tre dolori,
vedran lacrime di Dimaco
e di Tito al ciglio
il più grande che tu guardi
abbraccerà tuo figlio".

La gente:
"Dalla strada alla montagna
sale il tuo den den
ogni valle di Giordania
impara il tuo fren fren;
qualche gruppo di dolore
muove il passo inquieto,
altri aspettan di far bere
a quelle seti aceto".

Maria nella bottega d'un falegname © 1970 Fabrizio De André/Gian Piero Reverberi

With "Maria nella bottega d'un falegname," De André jumps forward from the time of Christ's birth to his upcoming death on the cross.

In 1979 and 1980, De André combined forces with Italy's premier progressive rock band PFM. Their highly successful tour resulted in two live albums and some interesting rearrangements of De André's songs.

Third edition
“Carpenter with your hammer,
why do you go ‘den den’?
With the plane on that wood,
why do you go ‘fren fren’?
Are you building crutches
for someone who went to war,
who from Nubia, on their hands
returned home?”

The carpenter:
“My hammer doesn’t strike,
my plane doesn’t cut
to mold new legs
and offer them to someone in battle,
but three crosses, two for those who
deserted to steal,
the largest for one who
taught to desert from war.”

The people:
“At the sleeping temples
of this city
pulses the heart of a hammer.
When will it stop?
Carpenter, on that wood,
how many hits already?
How much more with the plane
will you thin and refine it?”

“At the sores, at the wounds
you make on the wood,
carpenter, on those cuts
the blood is missing, now,
so they explain on their own
with their voices
which faces will go white
upon your crosses.”

The carpenter:
“These blocks that they brought
so my sweat
might transform them in the image
of three sufferings,
they will see tears of Dimaco
and of Tito at the eye’s edge.
The biggest one you're looking at
will embrace your son.”

The people:
“From the streets to the mountains
rises up your ‘den den,'
every valley of Jordan
learns your ‘fren fren’;
some groups of suffering
take the uneasy step,
others wait to force
those thirsty ones to drink vinegar.”

English translation © 2014 Dennis Criteser

First edition
Second edition

La Buona Novella, released in 1970, was written in the thick of the student protests and social upheavals of 1968/1969 including "May 68" in France and Hot Autumn in Italy. The album is based on the Biblical apocrypha. De André reminded his compatriots that Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in history, and the album was meant to be an allegory for the times. "La Buona Novella" means The Good Book, and in Italian refers specifically to the New Testament.

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