~ language and poetry ~
- 4 -

Giuseppe Berneri
MEO PATACCA


index
CANTO I
CANTO II
CANTO III
CANTO IV
CANTO V
CANTO VI
CANTO VII
CANTO VIII
CANTO IX
CANTO X
CANTO XI
CANTO XII


CANTO I

octaves: 1-2, 4-6, 9-10, 14-15, 38, 65-67, 77, 81-82, 94-95


The first canto opens with an introduction about the poem's theme, with the poet's humorous invocation, and with a dedication of his work to a grandnephew of pope Clement XI, Clemente Domenico Rospigliosi, whose protection Berneri invokes, so to be spared from the scourge of the critics, eternal nightmares of writers and poets.



1 - 2

Del pi bravo tr i Sgherri Romaneschi,
Che pi d'ogn'altro mentov se fava,
De sent raccont non vi rincreschi
Quel gran valor, per cui scialante annava.
Solo, perche in natali birbanteschi
Mostrava un genio nobile, mostrava,
E gran machine hav nel cocuzzlo,
Le sue grolie cant me v fasciolo.

Dir quel ch'ebbe in tel penziero, e in core
Quanno la nova orribile s'intese,
Che sotto Vienna el Turco traditore
Con quel tamanto Essercito se mese;
Vi dir ancor con quanto scialacore
Le feste d'intim cura se prese,
Che si fecero in Roma, e con gran boria,
Quanno se pubric chalche vittoria.

4 - 6

Muse! Voi, ch'alle coste ve sedete
Del Dio canoro, c'h sbarbato el mento,
Non ve credete n non ve credete,
Che v'invochi, perche non me la sento;
Io sono guitto, e voi gran fumo havete,
Per ve lascio stne, e me contento
D'una sguattara vostra, e sia de quelle,
Che lava i piatti e lecca le scudelle.

Una de 'ste sciacquette giusto al caso
D'esserme Protettora, e non ve spiaccia,
Perche 'sto fusto gi s' persuaso
Di gente birba seguit la traccia.
Dar costei chi me d de naso
Un de' su' stracci unti e bisunti in faccia,
Allor, ch'io col magnifico taccone
Le corde batto del mi calascione.

M gi, che non h Musa, che m'assista
E che ben mi difenda all'occorrenza
Da gente, che ci f la dottorista,
Che si grolia d'us la maldicenza,
Io, che 'sta mi' disgrazia h gi prevista,
Di Clemente ricorro alla Clemenza,
E s'un tal personaggio m'assicura,
De 'sti critichi allor non h paura.


1 - 2

Please don't feel annoyed
In being told about the great valour
Of the most clever among the Roman Braves,
Whose name is mentioned more than any other.
Just because he was well endowed with brains,
Although he was born a commoner,
And had great projects on his mind,
I feel like praising his feats.

I'll tell what was in his mind and in his heart
When the terrible news was heard,
That the wicked Turk, with such an army,
Had positioned himself by Vienna;
Furthermore, I'll tell you with how much care
He looked after the arrangement of the celebrations
That were held in Rome, very lavishly too,
When the news of some victories was heard.

4 - 6

Muses! You, who sit besides
The beardless God of songs,
Don't think that I'll invoke you,
Because I don't feel like doing so;
I am a commoner, and you are quite haughty,
So I won't disturb you, and I'll be happy
With one of your servants, one of those
Who wash the dishes and lick the plates clean.

One of these trollops is just fit
For being my Patron, I hope you won't mind,
Because I have already decided
To follow the common people.
To whom gives me trouble, she'll throw in their face
One of her dirty and greasy flanels,
While I, with my wonderful quill,
Pluck the strings of my lute.

But since I have no Muse to assist me
Who could defend me well in the case of need
From people who act pedantically,
And go proud of being slanderous,
Having already foreseen my ill-luck,
I resort to Clement's Clemence,
And if such an authority reassures me,
I shall no longer fear these critics.

Then the story begins to unwind.
It is an ordinary day, in the late 17th century Rome; the people are unaware of an impending danger.



9 - 10

Stava Roma paciosa, allor, che l'anno
Mille seicento ottanta tre curreva,
E tutto quel, ch'i spensierati fanno,
Grattannose la panza, ogn'un faceva;
D'hav vicino un perfido malanno
Nisciun propio, nisciun se lo credeva;
Per senza abbadne ad altre quelle,
Al solito se dava in ciampanelle.

Chi annava scarpinar per la Citt,
Facendo un po' de vernia in due tr,
Chi stava in chalche camera gioc,
Chi all'osteria del Sole de i Tre R;
Altri, com'oggid spesso si f,
Drento de le botteghe del caf
Con un viso pacifico e sereno,
Stavano raggion del pi e del meno.


9 - 10

Peaceful stood Rome
During year sixteen thousand eighty-three,
And everybody, in idleness,
Was doing what carefree people do;
Really nobody was aware
Of being so close to a terrible mishap,
But without any particular thought,
As usual, the people spent their time on trifle.

Some went for a walk in the City,
To show off a bit, in groups of two or three,
Some others stayed indoors and played,
Some at the Sun inn or at the Three Kings inn;
Others, as nowadays has become a custom,
Sat in coffee bars,
With a peaceful and tranquil expression,
Discussing about this and that.

Suddenly, a messenger on horseback comes to town, carrying the news that Vienna is under the siege of the Ottomans. This causes a great commotion among Rome's citizens.



14 - 15

Vienna Citt, che, bigna hav pacenza,
Poche con lei ce ponno arrogantne;
I Cesari ce fanno residenza,
Perche proprio h bellezze maiorane.
Scialante il sito, e iofa l'apparenza,
Non lo pozzo bastanza raccontne:
Se chalchuno nostrdine non crede,
Che cos bella sia, la vada vede.

Hor questi erano i guai, questo il terrore,
Per cui s'era la gente ammuinata,
In pens con tamanto schiattacore
Che la povera Vienna era assediata;
E paccheta s'haveva tutte l'hore,
Che non fusse da' Turchi rampinata,
E s'un po' de garbuglio se sentiva,
À ogn'un la cacatreppola veniva.


14 - 15

Vienna is no doubt a City
That few places may compare to;
The Emperors choose it as their residence,
Because it really has features of high level;
The place is so rich, its appearance so beautiful,
That I cannot describe this enough:
Who does not believe our words,
That the city is so nice, should go and visit it.

So these were the problems, this was the fear,
That caused the people's concern,
In thinking with so much worry
Of the poor Vienna under siege;
And the people were constantly anxious
That the Turks may capture it,
And if the slightest commotion was heard,
Everybody panicked in fear.

The news coming from Vienna rapidly spreads by word of mouth. Everybody feels deeply concerned, fearing that the Turks might make their way down to Rome. Among the people who learn about the news is the hero of the poem.



38

Costui tra' Romaneschi il pi temuto,
S' il capotruppa della gente sgherra,
Ben disposto di vita, e nerboruto,
Bravo alla lotta i pi forzuti atterra.
Quando poi de fa' sangue risoluto
F prove co' la fionna e con la sferra,
E ben lo sa, chi con lui buglie attacca.
Se chiama, e se ne grolia, Meo Patacca.


38

He is the most feared among the Romans,
Being the leader of the braves,
With a strong and muscular build,
Clever at wrestling, he floors the strongest fighters.
And when he wants to shed blood,
He does great feats with the sling and the sword,
And those who pick a quarrel with him know well.
He is called, and is proud of this, Meo Patacca.

Meo decides to call upon the strongest and bravest men in town, and form a small army so to go and help Vienna fight back the Turks. He gathers a handful among the men he knows, and leads them to a place where he can hold a speech.



63-65

Con rimenata da trasteverino
Seguit 'l viaggio, e co' sgherrosi passi
Scontrafava l'annar d'un paladino,
N la cedeva manco alli gradassi;
Poi giusto in mezzo di Campo Vaccino,
Loco in dove s'impara far sassi,
Si ferma e dice: Questo il Campidoglio
Sia per m adesso, io qu parl ve voglio .

Campo Vaccino un loco for di mano
Vicino al Coliso, poco abbitato,
Indove del bestiame grossolano
Ogn'otto giorni ce se f el mercato.
largo e longo assai, m tutto piano,
In tel mezzo dal sole riparato,
Se d'arbori cresciuti tutti un paro,
Da capo piedi c' doppio filaro.

Vu Meo salir in alto, e una barozza
Vede lassata l dalli carrari;
Ammasca ancora una colonna mozza,
Che gli par meglio assai per un suo pari;
S questa dunque, perche piana e tozza
Ce zompa de potenza piedi pari,
Perche de fa' 'sti salti haveva in uso,
Ce resta sopra ritto come un fuso.

77

Un mangoso di sgherri, m ghinaldi,
Di quei, che stesi n'han pi d'uno al sole,
Che non voltano faccia, e stanno saldi,
Ritrovi ogn'un di voi, prima che puole;
Menateli da m, m caldi caldi,
E ci vogliono fatti, e non parole;
Spero ricapezzarne io ducent'altri
De i pi forzuti, ammazzatori, e scaltri.

81 - 82

Di voi, lo s, che molti mi diranno,
Che famo cose da spropositati,
Perche i Turchi pent poi ci faranno,
D'essere in campo stuzzicarli andati:
Risponno, che ci sono, e ci saranno,
Contro quei cani l bravi soldati,
Per aiutarci, e si vedr, chi sballa,
Se 'sta gente guerriera noi f spalla.

S via, coraggio, che si st pi bada?
Annamo uniti annamo da' soccorzo
All'augusta Citt, prima che cada,
Troppo ciafo, chi pi ritarda el corzo;
In busca de' compagni ohmai si vada .
M intanto gli rompette el su' discorzo
La turba, ch'in star zitta assai pativa:
Evviva, disse, Meo Patacca, evviva .


63-65

With the typical attitude of a Trastevere native,
He kept going, and his whimsical way of walking
Concealed the progress of a paladin,
One who could compete with the toughest ones;
Then, in the very center of Campo Vaccino,
A place where to learn how to fight with stones,
He stops and says: Now let this be my Capitol,
I want to talk to you right here .

Campo Vaccino is a place off the beaten tracks,
Not far from the Colosseum, scarsely inhabited,
Where the cattle-market
Is held every eight days.
It's rather wide and long, but completely flat,
In the center it is sheltered from the sun,
As a double row of trees all of the same height
Runs from one end to the other.

Meo wants to stand high, and he sees a cart
Left there by the cart-drivers;
He also notices a broken column,
Which he thinks is better for someone like him;
So, he jumps on it with both feet,
As it is flat and wide;
Being accustomed to making such leaps,
He lands on it as straight as a pole.

77

Each of you go and find, as soon as possible,
Some thirty braves, yet cunning ones,
The kind who already knocked down opponents,
Who do not change their minds, and stand still;
Bring them to me, straight away,
We need facts, not words;
I hope to gather some two hundred more by myself
among the strongest ones, most cunning and ready to kill.

81 - 82

I'm already aware than many of you will say
That we are exaggerating things,
Because the Turks will make us regret
Having come to provoke them:
I answer that there are, and there will be,
Against those loathsome people, good soldiers
To help us, and let's see who is to perish
If these warriors will support us.

Come on, take courage, what are we waiting for?
Let's go united to lend our help
To the venerable City, before it falls,
What a coward is he who delays his participation;
Now let's go looking for partners.
Meanwhile his speech was broken
By the party, who could not remain silent:
Hail Meo Patacca, they said, hail .

He then explains to his men how to raise funds for the expedition.



94 - 95

Come haveremo el numero compito
Di cinquecento, e si far la mostra,
Voglio qu proprio voglio fa' un invito
De chi venga ved la gente nostra.
Ogni Signor ci rester stupito,
E con noi generoso allor si mostra,
Che non pu esser, che pe' cortesia,
Chalche ajuto de costa non ce dia.

Come arrivati poi semo in battaglia,
Allora s, che non ce d fastidio
Di trov chi ci d la vettovaglia,
Che pi non c' bisogno de sussidio,
Perch, mentre el nemico si sbaraglia,
E che si f el famoso turchicidio,
Bel ramacci, che voi con m farete
Giubbe, sciable, turbanti, ori e monete .


94 - 95

As soon as we reach the number
Of five hundred, and we can present ourselves,
I really want to make an invitation,
To let others come and see our team right here.
Every Gentleman will be surprised,
And will show himself generous with us,
So that it will be impossible for him
Not to give us some kind contribution.

And as soon as we reach the battlesite,
Indeed, we won't have to worry
About looking for provisions,
As we will no longer need an aid,
Because while we defeat the enemy,
And we kill hundreds of Turks,
You and I can collect a huge loot
Of jackets, sabres, turbans, gold and coins .