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Fabrizio de André

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S'i' fosse foco
If I were fire

Original 13th century Italian

Poèma di Cecco ANGIOLIERI

S'i fosse foco arderéi 'l mondo
s'i fosse vento lo tempesterei
s'i fosse acqua i' l'annegherei
s'i fosse Dio manderei l'en profondo.

S'i fosse papa, sare' allor giocondo
tutti i cristiani imbrigherei
s'i fosse 'mperator sa' che farei ?
A tutti mozzerei lo capo a tondo.

S'i fosse morte andarei da mio padre
s'i fosse vita fuggirei da lui
similemente faria da mi' madre.

Si fosse Cecco com'i' sono e fui
torrei le donne giovani e leggiadre
e vecchie e laide lasserei altrui.

S'i fosse foco arderéi 'l mondo
s'i fosse vento lo tempesterei
s'i fosse acqua i' l'annegherei
s'i fosse Dio manderei l'en profondo.

Italian

Poèma di Cecco Angiolieri

Se io fossi fuoco io brucerei il mondo
se io fossi vento, lo sconvolgerei con la tempesta
se io fossi acqua, io lo sommergerei
se io fossi Dio io lo sprofonderei

Se io fossi papa, in questo caso sarei allegro
perché metterei nei guai tutti cristiani
se io fossi imperatore, sai cosa farei?
Io taglierei la testa a tutti con un taglio netto.

Se io fossi morte andrei da mio padre
se io fossi vita mi allontanerei da lui
allo stesso modo mi comporterei con mia madre

Se io fossi Cecco, come lo sono e lo sono sempre stato
io prenderei per me le donne giovani e belle
e lascerei agli altri quelle vecchie e brutte

Se io fossi fuoco io brucerei il mondo
se io fossi vento, lo sconvolgerei con la tempesta
se io fossi acqua, io lo sommergerei
se io fossi Dio io lo sprofonderei

English

Poem by Cecco Angiolieri

If I were fire, I would consume the world;
If I were wind, then I would blow it down;
If I were water, I would make it drown;
If I were God, t'would to the depths be hurled.

If I were Pope, I'd have a lot of fun
with how I'd make all Christians work for me;
If I were emperor, then you'd really see -
I'd have the head cut off of everyone.

If I were death, then I'd go to my father;
If I were life, I'd not abide with him;
And so, and so, would I do to my mother.

If I were Cecco - as in fact I am -
I'd chase the young and pretty girls; to others
Would I leave the lame or wrinkled dam.

If I were fire, I would consume the world;
If I were wind, then I would blow it down;
If I were water, I would make it drown;
If I were God, t'would to the depths be hurled.


comment and translation by SIMON J. EVNINE

Cecco Angiolieri (1260-c.1312) was a Sienese poet. He is best remembered for his wonderful sonnet "S'i fosse foco". The poem is interesting from a philosophical point of view. It is a series of nine subjunctive conditionals. While the first eight have false (in most cases, necessarily false) antecedents ("if I were fire," "if I were death," etc.) the final conditional has a true, indeed a necessarily true, antecedent ("if I were Cecco"). The strangeness of a subjunctive conditional with a true antecedenct is emphasized because Cecco inserts after it the only verbs (literally, "as I am and was") in the poem that are not subjunctives or conditionals.

Comment by "Commentiamo" - translation by Enrico Massetti

There are poets who remain in the history of poetry with only one composition: the case of Cecco Angiolieri, whose opening line of this poem, "If I were fire, burn 'the world', is known by anyone who has even a minimum literary education.

Undoubtedly the first part of the poem in question is the best known: two stanzas full of hyperboles in eight lines sum up all the cosmology of his time, the Middle Ages. With this poem, those who think that there have been periods of blackout of reason and irony, he has his marching orders. Cecco takes us on a carousel, in a game almost childlike, but also increasingly in fashion: the game of "If I were." And like a good player shoots immediately high: if fire I would burn the world. It begins with a purifying element for excellence and uses it to destruction and in the same way speaks of wind and water. Maybe Cecco, free spirit and desecrator, is telling us that there is nothing to do: we are born with certain characteristics, and we may take any form, we are still us. And then, even if he were God, he would only plunge the world, send it to peak. After rising so high, that higher you can not rise, with the game of "If I were," Cecco goes back to ground. From nature has jumped to metaphysics, now it's up to humanity. Takes issue with the two highest entity of the Middle Ages, the Papacy and the Empire. Here, too, is not subsiding destructive lust: cuts of heads and hangings, always in a mocking tone.

Comment by "Amici di Fabrizio de Andre" - translation by Enrico Massetti

If I were fire, I would consume the world;
If I were wind, then I would blow it down;

Cecco Angiolieri, the first " angry young man" of European literature, began in this way, seven centuries ago, his most "terrible" sonnet. In the age of the mystics, among the graceful blooms of the " dolce stil novo ", (Sweet new style) the poet from Siena discovered the acrid taste of the imprecation as antidote to the pain of living, and the vocabulary of rage as antidote to despair, the grin stretched up to vulgarity as verification of the daily tragedy.

Fabrizio De André, one of the true " angry young men " of the contemporary song, recovered the lesson of Messer Cecco in its hallucinating actuality. Going well beyond certain definitions of convenience, which make Angiolieri an acid overambitious and a blasphemer by trivium, he fully understood the disconcerting "truth" of the medieval poet, came down by the dramatic sorrowfulness of his "protest", today more alive than ever, speaking to us more than ever. That's why the hypothesis of a meeting in spirit between the singer and the thirteenth-century storytellers twentieth century is not only impressive , it is also credible.

Or the fact that De André have played music ( ironic java ) the verses of Siena, is not accidental but moves from precise reasons. And , that between Cecco and Fabrizio, a look of understanding between the two authors seven centuries distant from each other, yet very close, almost relatives. Who Fabrizio knows through his songs - the long history of rebellion - have no difficulty to find out. It will be enough, to discover the nature and extent of this link, to listen to this record in which De André once again, next to the Angiolieri sonnet, includes some of the most significant pages of its production of yesterday and today. Among the latter is important to note two translations of Brassens, another poet to whom the Genoese singer-songwriter is bound by specific affinity of taste, choices, inclinations.

At a closer look, I would say that the protest even the rebellion of Fabrizio comes from an absolute need of faith, by the search for something to believe that it is a testimony of love for the man, a confidence in his future. It's this constant tension to save the poetic world of Fabrizio from the quicksands of nihilism, that would keep him on the brink of total denial to prevent him from falling. For despondent that his vision of the world, there is always the urge to move forward, to look again. For detached and defeatist as it may seem his record, it's easy to read between the lines an invitation to fight, a warning to be aware of the reality and take other, different roads - in direzione ostinata e contraria - in stubborn and contrary direction.

This seems to me to want to teach the poor heroes Fabrizio, solitary specimens of humanity groping in the dark and look for the light, and too often, a victim of his own journey, he stumbles over rocks that dot the streets of existence. Because, look up, you are likely to stumble : how Marinella, who dies as soon as she discovers love, as Miché, murder for fear of losing his girlfriend, commits suicide in despair at having lost, as the soldier of "The ballad of the hero," who " too far away / went to look for / the truth ', as Piero, who was killed among the poppies from the fierce fury of the war, just as it turns out in the womb of the flavor of a ' unthought fraternity : "And as you were with the soul in the shoulders / you saw a man in the valley / he had your exact same mood / but the uniform of another color," so now we are to the theme of " eat-dog" , the most disturbing aspect of the dissent by Fabrizio de André against the society.

The man is not only a victim of his own errors or of his own destiny. He is mostly victim of the others, of hypocrisy, hatred, bad faith of neighbors. So the courtesan faded of the "Testament", forced to sell sacred images on the cornerof a church because the public sphere leaves her no chance of subsistence, so that character in which he tells them "The gorilla " indulgent killed by the "justice" of men, "shouted mom like that that / which the day before as a chicken / with a judgment a bit ' original / had cut the neck, death" ( of dreams, love, dignity ).

The war, hatred, the rot that is within and around us. These, then, are the stones that Fabrizio is planting along the route of their characters, to teach us to walk. They are the cornerstones of his sadness - and of his hope - as an artist that deeply shares in reality. As a man who lives the life of other men, there is lowered to the bottom and suffers no alternative, totally. The fact that, to express it, he not infrequently recourses humor means nothing. It's, his a humor always available to the calls of the tragic, daily or not. No desire to laugh, if anything, the sarcasm 'bad' Cecco Angiolieri. A sarcasm that is the alibi of bitterness, which has infinite tension of a crying restrained.

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