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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