August 19, 2018

Meridiunalata IV: A Bilingual Offering of Duosiciliano Poetry

Inspired by Cav. Charles Sant'Elia's Meridiunalata/Southernade,* an evocative bilingual (Neapolitan/ English) collection of poetry written between 1989 and 2010, we offer the reader an accessible introduction to vernacular (Neapolitan, Sicilian, et al.) verse with the aim of awakening enthusiasm for contemporary and historical poesia Duosiciliano.

In this installment we're featuring the Neapolitan poetry of Raffaele Viviani and Cav. Charles Sant'Elia.

Di Raffaele Viviani

Amicizia è n'acqua chiara,
cristallina, trasparente,
ca s'appanna dint'a niente
e pirciò ch'e cosa rara.

Cchiù 'amicizia è bella e cara,
cchiù se sporca facilmente:
'mmisturata 'a tanta gente
ca te lassa 'a vocca amara.

Chi 'a vò limpida 'e durata,
nn' 'a sfruttasse pè prufitto,
s' 'a tenesse, comm'è nata,

dint' 'o core. E llà, 'amicizia,
quanno 'o calculo sta zitto,
nun se sporca e nun s'avvizia.

By Raffaele Viviani

Friendship is a clear water,
crystalline, transparent,
that all of a sudden fogs up
and therefore is a rare thing.

The more friendship is beautiful and dear,
the more it gets easily sullied:
churned up by so many people
that it leaves you with a bitter taste.

He who wants it clean for the long haul,
must not exploit it for profit,
must keep it, as it was born,

in his heart. And there, friendship,
When calculating reason is silent,
It does get sullied and does spoil.

Translated by Cav. Charles Sant’Elia

Da Charles Sant’Elia

Na jurnata nfucata
Te voglio lassà,
Na sciusciata int’’e fronne,
Feneste ‘e primmavera arapute,
Nu cielo senza fine
Manco nguacchiato
Cu na chélleta ‘e núvola,
Nu mare annanze
Futo e sbrénneto,
Ca t’hadda nchiuvà a riva
A sunnà
Addò nisciuna varca
T’hadda maje purtà
Sulo chesto te voglio lassà,
Quanno nun t’arrecuorde chiù
Manco ‘o nomme mio
E nun nce pienze
Ca nce sò passat’i’
Na vota.

By Charles Sant’Elia

A fiery day
I want to leave you,
A blowing in the leaves,
Spring windows open,
A sky without end
Not even marred
By the hint of a cloud,
A sea before you
Deep and splendid,
So that it will have you fixed by the shore
Where no boat
Will ever take you
Far away.
Only this I want to leave you,
When you don’t even
Remember my name anymore
And you think about it,
That I passed by there

* Self-published in 2010, Meridiunalata/Southernade is a treasury of poems gleaned from Cav. Sant'Elia's previous collections (Nchiuso dint''o presente, 'A cuntrora, and 'O pino e l'éllera), which were circulated among friends in New York City and Naples. Special thanks to Cav. Sant'Elia for allowing us to reprint his poetry and translations.