May 11, 2019

Meridiunalata XII: 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 Libero Bovio and Charles Sant’Elia.

‘E ffronne
di Libero Bovio

Cu ‘e primme fridde ‘e vierno
fredda si’ addeventata,
sta mana toja gelata
te tremma 'mmano a me...
Ma tu niente me dice
e i’ niente t’addimanno,
pecchè sti core ‘o ssanno
chello ca hann’’a sapè...
Tu si’ comm’a n’auciello,
cante nu juorne, ..dduje..
po, arape ‘e scelle e fuje
e, addio, nun tuorne cchiù..
Si’ ‘o sole ‘e marzo…’o sole
ca luce ..e po scumpare
e, tale e quale ô mare,
fedele nun si’ ttu!!
Addio!.. Cadeno ‘e ffronne…
cadeno e ‘o viento ‘e sperde..
Erano accussì vverde
quanno cantave tu!!
Addio! ..Comme te chiamme,
bella ca te ne vaje??
Tu stessa nun ‘o ssaje :
te chiamme... giuventù!!

The Leaves
By Libero Bovio

With the first cold of winter
you’ve become cold,
This hand of yours frozen
trembles in my hand...
But you say nothing to me
and I nothing ask you,
because these hearts know
what they have to know...
You’re like a bird,
you sing a day, ..two..
then, you open your wings and flee
and, farewell, you don’t return..
You’re the March sun…the sun
that shines ..and then disappears
and, exactly like the sea,
you are not faithful!!
Farewell!.. The leaves are falling…
they fall and the wind scatters them..
They were so green
when you were singing!!
Farewell! ..What is your name,
beautiful one that goes away??
You yourself don’t know :
you’re name is... youth!!

Translated by Cav. Charles Sant’Elia

‘O Mese ‘E Maggio
Da Charles Sant’Elia

C’addore ‘o’ mese ‘e maggio 

Dint’’a casa ‘e notte,
Ca s’arapésseno tutt’’e feneste 

Pe m’’o purtà,
Ca tu l’astipasse
Int’’e capille
St’addore ‘o’ mese ‘e maggio.

The Month of May
By Charles Sant’Elia

What a scent in the month of May
In the house at night,
I wish they would open all the windows 

To bring it to me,
That you would store it up
In your hair,
This scent in the month of May.

* 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.