Language: Milanese Dialect
Poet: Franco Loi
Translator: Giuliana Chamedes
Region: Milan/North Italy
What sky do I have to invent?
Six poems by Franco Loi, translated from Milanese Dialect by Giuliana Chamedes
There is a word in Milanese dialect, strabeless, for the drop of wine that remains at the bottom of the glass that you’ve bought at the bar; a drop that poor men, unable to afford a glass of wine, wander from table to table and drink.
Franco Loi was born in Genova in 1930, and moved to Milan at the age of seven. The poems in Secundum Lüna date from 1965, but they were published in 1975 as the final chapter in Stròlegh. Since then, Loi published 14 other books of poetry, as well as a number of translations and works of literary criticism. Loi’s choice to write in Milanese dialect, an adopted, anti-literary language, was partly a choice to bring music, and the entirety of the human experience, back into the domain of poetry. He went hunting for his poetry by night in local bars, and by day in public parks.
Giuliana Chamedes was born in New York City. She has published in the Vermont Literary Review and translated the poetry of Milli Graffi (Burning Deck Press, 2002). She is an Associate Professor of History and a faculty affiliate of the Religious Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
tiraa de Secundum Lüna
Oh bel belé, perla-livàster ögg,
suspir de verla . . .
Ciallâd de semper, nient che nu’ sia fàrfar,
ma, ’stess del cioll, che la matina s’arsa e dis
« . . . el sû . . . oh dí cumenzià . . . un tram . . . i vus . . . »
Paròl antigh. Ma dím, làer sgarzèl che sa,
sé g’û de dít? che ciel g’û d’inventàm?
« . . . la nott, el dí . . . la pas, la guèra . . . i mort . . . »
Croda l’ütünn, la lüna la se sbianca,
dora l’estâ che primavera cascia,
che l’omm l’è fjö di strepp che dà i balòres
per crèss, slungàss, müdàss . . . ’n òrghen . . . ’na pianta . . .
ma ’l püresín de scrutta restarà.
I verb în müff, paròl d’amur fan üsma.
Ma ’l sentiment l’è ’l fiur d’un òmm bardassa,
che, se dis ciau, le dis per sua beltâ.
from Secundum Lüna
Hey pretty play-thing, pearl olive eyes,
shrike’s sigh . . .
It’s the same old mutter-junk, thin-whisped lies,
some asshole, who wakes in the morning, and says:
“the sun . . . oh day to begin . . . a tram . . . voices . . .”
Ancient words. You, young, all-knowing lip, tell me:
what words do I have to say? what sky do I have to invent?
“the night . . . the day . . . times of peace, the war . . . the dead . . .”
Autumn crumbles with falling leaves,
the moon turns to snow, and summer,
sprouting forth from spring, gilds golden.
And yes, all men are sons to spurting youth’s tugs
to grow, stretch tall, change shape
. . . as hollow seeds . . . or garden plants . . .
But do not fear: the hen’s hatched chick will remain.
The verbs are full of mold, and the words of love stink rotten.
And yet, emotion is the flower of the artless man
who bestows his rare hello upon others
only in order to create his own, selfless, beauty.
These poems appeared in Volume 1, Issue 1 • Autumn/Winter 2003 © 2003 CIRCUMFERENCE, Inc.