~ 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 VII

octaves: 6-8, 11-14, 18-19, 25, 29-31, 38-42, 51-52, 54-55, 57-58, 60, 64-68, 70-83, 85


On the following day, Meo sets out early and goes to see Nuccia, as promised.



6 - 8

Alla casa di lei ben presto arriva,
Qu c'era Tutia che scopanno stava
Gi nell'entrone, ch'alla strada usciva,
E alla porta ogni poco s'affacciava.
Era intenta osserv se Meo veniva
Per esser questo quel che gl'importava,
Anzi ch'a posta l s'intratteneva,
Se gi da Nuccia il gergo havuto haveva.

S'accorge alfine e consolata resta,
Ch'alla sfilata Meo vi puntuale:
Tra s subbito fece una gran festa,
E se ne curze allor verzo le scale:
Signora Nuccia mia! Stateme lesta,
- Disse, - che vien l'amico! Manco male! -
Rispose lei, - Parlate adesso voi,
Che come gi v'h detto, io verr poi .

Fatta c'h 'st'imbasciata calda calda,
À scop torna, et gnent'altro abbada
La ciospa, che per essere ghinalda,
Manco rivolta pi l'occi alla strada.
Nella faccenda sua, mentre st salda,
Finge che pe' la testa altro gle vada;
M per, entrato Meo, gli f ben presto
Con braccia alzate, d'allegrezza un gesto.


6 - 8

Soon he arrives to her house,
And there was Tuzia, sweeping
Down in the hall that led to the street,
And every now and then she peeped outside.
She was watchfully waiting for Meo to come,
As this was her real purpose,
And for this reason she kept lingering there,
Having been told so by Nuccia.

Finally to her relief, she realizes
That Meo is punctual to the appointment:
She immediately rejoyces,
And rushes towards the staircase:
Miss Nuccia! Get ready,
- She said, - your friend's coming! Oh well! -
She replied, - Now you talk to him,
And then I'll come later on, as I told you .

After having passed the information,
The old woman keeps sweeping, paying attention
To nothing else but this, and since she's cunning,
She no longer looks towards the street, either.
Pretending that something else is on her mind,
She carries on with her duties;
But as soon as Meo comes in, with raised arms
She makes a gesture of happiness.

Tuzia does her best to convince Meo to make peace with Nuccia.



11 - 14

Se sapessivo quanto s' sbattuta,
Pe' vostro amor, quanto s' tapinata,
Ve ne saria compassion venuta,
Faceva cose poi da disperata.
Bench sia lei 'na giovane saputa,
Quasi fora de gangani era annata.
Se ieri non l'havessivo sentita,
Tutta gi for di s sarebbe uscita.

Per la gran rabbia non trovava loco,
Perche gle si sciogli, stracci 'l zinale,
Sent da un aco puncicarsi un poco,
Mentre cuciva, e mozzic el ditale.
Drento una pila che bulliva al foco
La cenere mett scambio del sale;
Butt cert'acqua in strada, e gi con quella,
Scionta lass ann la catinella.

Un'altra poi ne fece assai pi brutta,
(Ve la dico, m solo in confidenza):
Specchiannose si vidde un po' distrutta;
Per dolor, che pi lei non date udienza;
Stacca lo specchio, e in terra poi lo butta
Con tutta rabbia e tutta violenza;
S ci sputa, e co' i piedi lo calpesta,
Sino ch'affatto sminuzzato resta.

Considerate, se il cervel bulliva;
M quel, ch' peggio poi, strazi faceva
Della perzona sua, lei non dormiva,
E n manco magnava, n beveva.
Voi signor Meo, se la volete viva,
Fate che torni, come gi soleva,
À starvi in grazia, e se 'l contrario trova,
Allor s, ch'al suo mal niente pi giova.


11 - 14

If only you knew how sad she looks,
Because of the love for you,
How much she suffered, you would pity her,
And she also did crazy things, in despair.
Despite being a wise girl,
She had almost gone off the deep end.
Hadn't she heard from you yesterday,
She would have lost control of herself.

She couldn't stand still, disappointed as she was;
Her apron untied, and she tore it to pieces,
She pricked her finger with a needle,
While sewing, and gave the thimble a bite.
In a cooking pan she had placed over the fire,
she put cinders instead of salt;
She threw away some water in the street,
And threw the basin, as well.

She also did something worse,
(I'll tell you, but very confidentially):
She saw herself in the mirror a bit shabby
Due to her pain for no longer talking to you;
She took the mirror off the wall, and slammed it
On the floor with rage and violence;
She spat on it, and then trod on it,
Until she had crushed it into tiny pieces.

Just imagine how her brains were on fire;
But what's worse, she mistreated herself,
She refused to sleep,
Nor she ate, nor she drank.
Mr. Meo, if you want her to live,
Let her be once again what she used to be,
In good relations with you, otherwise
Nothing would sooth her suffering, for sure.

Tuzia then tells Meo that Calfurnia had lied to Nuccia, and how the girl had given her a good beating for this. He replies:



18 - 19

Ben glie sta, - disse Meo. - Peggio doveva
Faglie Nuccia, e se pi la sciupinava,
Quello che merit, lei gle faceva,
E me dava pi gusto, allor me dava.
M per Nuccia accorgese poteva,
Che quella griscia te l'intrappolava;
Quanno 'ste ciarle contro m sentiva
In crede non doveva esser curriva.

M di quel ch' passato, io gi mi scordo.
Che pi 'ste cose per sottil non guardo,
Et un core di femmina balordo,
Perche geloso, io voglio hav riguardo.
Venga pur Nuccia, e subbito m'accordo,
À farce pace, e non sar busciardo,
Se ritorno impromettergle d'amlla,
Pur che non fiotti allor, c'h da lassalla .


18 - 19

It served her well, - Meo said. - Nuccia
Should have beaten her stronger;
Had she received more, she would have deserved it,
And I would have been even happier.
Nuccia, though, should have realized
That the old woman was cheating her;
In hearing all those lies about me,
She shouldn't have trusted them so easily.

But I have already oblivioned what happened.
I'm not so strict about these things,
And to a woman's heart that turned silly
Because of jealousy, I want to be respectful.
Let Nuccia come, and I will immediately
Make peace with her, and I'm not a lier
In promising to love her, provided she won't whine
When time comes for me to leave her .

So Tuzia finally calls Nuccia (who pretends to be unaware of Meo's visit).



25

Nuccia f core, e dir la cosa schietta
Cos incominza: Signor Meo, perdono
Vi chiede una tradita giovanetta,
Ch'err, per creder troppo, e quella io sono.
Nel dirvi ingiurie, troppo fui scorretta,
M stessa ogni gastigo sottopono;
Tutto soffrir prometto, pur ch'io viva,
Bench lungi da voi, di voi non priva.

29 - 31

Vero non sia, - risponne lei, - ch'ardisca
Dir cosa, ch'el sentirla vi rincresca,
N, che per quanto 'sto mio cor patisca,
Una parola dalla bocca m'esca.
Lo vuole ogni raggion, ch'io consentisca,
Ch'andiate ad assalt gente Turchesca.
Acci, s'al naso vi verr la mosca,
La bravura di voi, l si conosca .

Mi date in tell'umor - qu Meo ripiglia, -
Cos parla, chi donna di giudizio,
Che quelle cose mai non disconsiglia,
Ch'a lascialle, son poi di pregiudizio.
L'annare fare in guerra un parapiglia,
E mette i Turchi cani in precipizio,
un'opera da bravo, e non capisce,
Cos' grolia e valor, chi l'impedisce.

Voi gnora Nuccia mi direte: - vero,
Ch'ann alla guerra rifil quei pioppi,
un'impresa de garbo, un bel pensiero,
Quanno per, l non ci siano intoppi.
M sempre c' un pericolo assai fiero,
Ch'uno ce sballi, ch'alla men si stroppi,
Io vi risponno, ch' pi bella attione
Mor bravo, che vivere un poltrone .


25

Nuccia takes courage, speaking honestly
To him: Mr. Meo, a deceived girl is asking
For your forgiveness, having acted wrongly
Due to an excess of trust, and that girl is me.
In insulting you, I have been too incorrect,
I'll submit to any kind of punishment;
I promise to endure anything, provided
I will not live without you, yet far away from you.

29 - 31

May I never dare, - she replies, -
Say something that displeases you,
Nor may a word be spoken by me,
Despite my heart feels such pain.
It is indeed reasonable for me to assent
To your expedition against the Turkish people.
So that, should your temper rise,
May your valour be known in those lands .

I appreciate your words - Meo replies, -
You speak like a wise woman,
Who'd never dissuade a man from doing things
That, once left behind, would cause him contempt.
To go and play havoc at war,
To chase away the spiteful Turks,
Is a brave man's deed, and whoever stops this
Cannot understand what glory and valour are.

You, Miss Nuccia, may tell me: - It is true,
To go to war and give those blokes a lesson
Is a honorable feat, something positive,
Provided that no problem arises.
But there is always a strong risk
To lose one's life, or at least to be crippled,
Let me tell you that it is a much better feat
To die as a brave, than to live as a lazy coward .

Meo now goes to see the noble who had promised him a contribution for his expedition.



38 - 42

M perche s che pe' busc regali
Trattanno con perzone di rispetto
Non bigna dar personaggi tali,
D'esser una gran piattola, sospetto,
M si deve aspett, che liberali
Faccino loro stessi, quel c'han detto;
Penza de traccheggi, perche nisciuno,
Trascurato lo stimi, n importuno.

V in questa casa e in quella, e assai diverzi
So' i ripieghi, che piglia; in t'un cantone
Hora st d'un palazzo intrattenerzi,
Sino ch'a caso affacciasi 'l patrone.
Subbito allor s'accosta, e f vederzi,
Mentre, in fargli col piede scivolone
Una riverenziata, alza lo sguardo,
Quello lo ciama, e te gle d il belardo.

Poi v in un altro loco, e arriva in sala,
Chalche amico pistolfo ci ritrova,
Facendogli accoglienze con la pala
Discorrendo gli v di chalche nova.
Esce intanto il signore; un caposcala
Meo de posta, currenno, se v trova;
Finge venir allora, e 'l personaggio,
Che gli dia pozzolana ordina un paggio.

Con queste, e somiglianti ritrovate,
In altre case ancor fece pulito;
Monete in quantit gli furno date,
Di che rest lui stesso assai stordito;
Ò che gli furno subbito contate,
Ò fatti ordini i banchi, onde fornito
Ch'ebbe d'ann da 'sti signori e quelli,
Grossa somma abbusc di saltarelli.

Dur tre giorni 'sto riscotimento,
N mai si crese Meo, d'abbusc tanto.
L'hav 'sto capitale senza stento
Gli par un sogno, gli par un incanto;
Vede che c'era gi 'l provedimento,
Ancorch lo squatron fusse altr'e tanto;
Ann da i dieci sgherri, et assai pronto
Di quel, che riscot gli fece 'l conto.


38 - 42

But since he knows that to receive gifts,
Dealing with respectful people,
One should not give them
The impression of being a nuisance,
But should wait for them
To freely do by themselves what they said,
He thinks of taking his time, so that nobody
Would find him impolite or importune.

He goes to several houses, and uses
Different strategies; now he stands
By the corner of a mansion, and remains there,
Until by chance the lord comes to the window.
At once he moves closer, letting himself be seen,
And by sliding his foot
He makes a deep bow, he lifts his eyes,
So the lord calls him, and gives him the money.

Then he goes somewhere else, and enters the hall,
Finding some friends who work there as valets;
He greets them profusely
And chats with them about this and that.
Meanwhile, the lord comes out; Meo abruptly
Rushes to the end of the staircase;
He pretends he has just arrived, and the gentleman
Calls for a page, to give him the sum.

Using these expedients, and similar ones,
He did a good job in other houses too;
He was given a great amount of coins,
That left him stunned, as well;
They were either handed to him on the spot,
Or a bill was drawn, so that once finished
Visiting the many gentleman,
He obtained a large sum of money.

Such a collection lasted three days,
Meo would have never thought of raising so much.
To be given this large sum without any effort
Seems to him like a dream, like magic;
He realizes that the needs would have been covered,
Provided the squadron had been ready too;
He goes to see the ten braves, promptly
Accounting to them for what he has received.

It is night-time.
Meo is absorbed in his thoughts concerning the date of departure of his expedition, when he hears a commotion in the street.



51 - 52

Ecco, s le prim'hore della notte,
Molte chiassate all'improvviso fatte,
Certe voci si sentono interrotte,
E restano le genti stupefatte.
M qu, m l si sparano pi botte,
Da casa allor Patacca se la sbatte;
Della strada in tel mezzo se n'annette,
E qu, sent che nova c', si mette.

S'intratti, fin che passa chalched'uno,
Sol per interrogallo, e sap 'l vero;
Assicurato vien, m da pi d'uno
Dell'arrivo improviso d'un curiero,
Che c'era una gran nova, che nisciuno
Se l'aspettava, manco pe' penziero,
Che, non solo f Vienna liberata,
M dato el pisto alla Turchesca armata.

54 - 55

Hebbe quasi Patacca disperarzi,
Perche senza di lui segu l'attacco;
Voluto havria nel fatto ritrovarzi,
Per dare i Turchi el sanguinoso acciacco;
Da generosa invidia, puncicarzi
Sente il core, e di pi stima suo smacco,
Non hav fatto prima, al modo stesso,
Quello, ch'a far, s'era ammannito adesso.

Accortosi alla fin, ch'el su' disegno
Di dar soccorzo Vienna, ito monte
E che la sorte non lo fece degno
D'annar in campo del nemico fronte,
Muta penziero muta, e novo impegno
Drizza le voglie, ad oper gi pronte,
E nella grolia simile lo stima,
Ò poco differente, quel di prima.

57 - 58

Gli zompa in testa un altro bel penziero,
Pe' sfog conto i Turchi el su' prorito,
E quel che fa' non gli pot da vero,
De faglielo pe' burla h stabbilito.
Non sol dei sgherri sui, m dell'intiero
Popolo, da cui spera esse ubbidito
Vu farzi capo, acci ch'a su' richieste
Quello s'impieghi in tel fa' giochi e feste.

Di cartapista, di cartone, e stracci
Vu che fatti si vedino bambocci,
C'habbian de i Turchi l'abbiti e i mostacci,
E che in straziarli pi d'un d s'incocci,
Vu ch'un solenne sbeffo se ne facci,
E che sieno impiccati son de rocci,
E sotto con candele accesi micci,
Per abbruscialli, el foco se gli appicci.

60

Corre dal Vetturino su' parente,
Ch'era da casa sua poco distante;
nello scarpin cos valente,
Che si porta lat in t'un istante.
Si f prestar allor subitamente
Un cavallo ch'annava de portante;
Mentre Meo la vittoria gli racconta,
Quello l'insella, e questo s ce monta.


51 - 52

Right then, during the early night hours,
A great noise came from the street,
Broken voices could be heard,
And the people remained stunned.
Here and there some shots were fired,
So Patacca left his house;
He stood in the middle of the street,
Trying to hear what was the news.

He stood there waiting for somebody to pass by,
So to ask him, and know what had really happened;
More than one person informed him
Of the sudden arrival of a messenger,
Because there was an important piece of news,
That nobody could have ever imagined,
That is not only Vienna had been freed,
But the Turkish army had been defeated too.

54 - 55

Patacca almost gave himself up to despair,
Because the attack had been launched without him;
He would have been happy to be there,
To inflict a blood-shedding victory on the Turks;
A generous envy stings his heart,
And he suffers even more
In thinking that he should have done earlier
What he was getting ready to do now.

Finally, realizing that his plan
To help Vienna has failed,
And that fate did not allow him
To face the enemy in the battlefield,
He changes idea and, ready to get down to work,
He turns his mind to a new project,
Which he reputes to be of equal importance,
Or just slightly different from the previous one.

57 - 58

He has another interesting idea,
For giving vent to his grudge against the Turks;
He thinks of arranging a mock performance
Of the things he couldn't carry out for real.
His aim is to make his project be followed
Not only by his own braves, but by all the people,
Hoping that, on his request,
Everybody will join games and celebrations.

He wants dummies to be made of papier-mâché,
Cardboard and rags, with Turkish clothes and faces,
To be set on display
And mistreated by everyone for several days;
He wants them to be well teased,
And hung, and stoned,
And to be burnt by setting fire to them
With candles and lighters.

60

He rushes to his relative, a carriage driver,
Whose house is nearby;
He walks so fast
That it takes him but a second to reach the site.
He then borrows straight away
A horse with a good gait;
While he tells the man about the victory,
The latter saddles the horse, and Meo mounts it.

In a rush, Meo goes to each of the braves, telling them to spread the news in each one's own neighborhood, and to tell the people to gather in the streets, so to organize a celebration, and to carry with them something they can burn as a torch.



64 - 68

Cal non solo in strada la plebbaglia,
M gente ancor ven di mezza tacca
E tutti fanno, (n pur uno sbaglia),
Quel che penz, quel ch'insegn Patacca.
Una scopa di zeppi, almen di paglia,
S'abbusca ogn'uno, e 'l foco poi gl'attacca,
Pel manico la piglia, e la tien alta,
E con gridar: Eh viva! e curre, e salta!

Di fiaccole posticcia ecco si scerne
Una non mai pi vista filastrocca;
Non s se siano lampade, lucerne
Chi nelle strade da lontano sbocca.
Di lanternoni, pi che di lanterne,
Hanno cera e la gente allora fiocca,
S'accosta, e alfin la verit si scrope,
Che parono fanali, e poi so' scope.

Una lograta, un'altra se n'appiccia,
E questa in alto subbito s'imposta
E chi non l'h, meglio che p l'impiccia;
Alla peggio la crompa, e assai gli costa,
Chi ne ti quantit, presto le spiccia,
Nel prezzo in quel bisbiglio, alza la posta;
Vale una scopa appena sei quatrini,
E m si vende un giulio e du' carlini.

Pi ch'in ogn'altro loco, assai gustosa
Resc 'sta festa in una strada ritta,
Longa un miglio, et in Roma assai famosa;
Pe' nominata antica, il Corzo ditta.
Nel Carnevale piena 'sta calcosa
Di gente cos nobil, come guitta,
A diluvio le maschere ce vanno,
E la Curza, li Barbari ce fanno.

Un miscuglio di fochi saltarizzi
In aria si vedeva, e come pazzi
Zompavano con varj schiribizzi,
In te le strade, l'homini e i regazzi.
Chi scope non aveva accese i tizzi,
E tutti insieme favano schiamazzi.
Con le forcine in mano, montarozzi,
Bruciorno paglia e fien, cucchieri e mozzi.


64 - 68

Not only the mob poured into the streets,
But also low-middle class people came,
And each one of them, (not one of them failed),
Did what Patacca had thought and told them to do.
Each one of them carried a broom
Made of twigs or hay, and then set fire to it,
Holding it by the handle and keeping it well high,
And shouting: Hurray! they ran and leapt!

The number of fake torches now forms
Such a huge procession, never seen again;
Whoever comes out in the street, from afar
Cannot tell whether they are torches or lamps.
Their shape looks larger than ordinary lanterns,
So the people come flocking,
They come closer, finally discovering the truth,
That is they look like lamps, but they are brooms.

As soon as a broom is burnt, another one is lit
And immediately held upwards,
And who is without does his best in finding one;
At the worst, one can buy it, at a hefty price;
Who has a provision of them, soon sells them out;
In the general confusion, their price is raised;
A broom is only worth sixpence,
And now it is sold for twenty times that sum.

The happening was enjoyed more than elsewhere
Along a street that runs straight,
One mile long, and very popular in Rome;
By ancient tradition, it is called the Corso.
During Carnival, this street is crammed
With noble people, and commoners alike;
Thousands in fancy costumes flock there,
And the Barbary horses run the Race.

A mixture of dancing fires
Could be seen in the air,
And men and boys crazily leapt around
In the streets, in the most fancy ways.
Who had no broom, burned coals,
And all together they raised hell.
Carriage-drivers and helpers, using their pitchforks
Burned heaps of straw and hay.

In this general craze, accidents are unavoidable. A curious one is caused by two young men, who by chance discover to be rivals in love.


70 - 83

Mentre fava spettacolo assai bello
La razza de 'sti novi luccicori,
De fa' 'na bizzarra, penz 'l ciarvello,
Di due romaneschetti bell'umori.
Tappo un se ciama, e l'altro Ciumachello;
Due scope lunghe assai, da imbiancatori
Alzano accese, e son gusti tamanti,
Il ved spasseggi fochi giganti.

In tel farzi 'sta lucida allegria
Succede un caso, che si stima un gioco;
Pare in principio, che gran gusto dia,
M f nasce garbugli, poco poco.
Resciva in fora certa gelosia
Da una finestra, e Tappo gle d foco;
Mentre ch'una gran scopa in man si trova,
Facile gli riesce una tal prova.

Perch' quella d'un legno inaridito,
E pe' l'antichit tutto tarmato,
Presto s'affiala, e resta intimorito
Pe' paura di peggio el vicinato.
Et ecco Ciumachello sbigottito
Curre, pe' da' rimedio, e 'l foco alzato
Coll'alta scopa sua smorz voleva,
M con la gelosia la scopa ardeva.

Strillano tutti allor; m pi schiamazza
'Na certa gnora lei, che l abbitava,
Et era una bellissima ragazza,
E Ciumachello un po' d'amor ce fava:
Si sentiva grid, com'una pazza,
E l'amico pi allor s'affaccendava,
Che trov presto il modo, havria voluto,
Di dar quell'incendio un chalche ajuto.

M 'l foco stesso lo lev d'impacci,
E le cose alla fin messe in sicuro,
Perche arriv bruscine un di quei lacci,
Che ti la gelosia legata al muro.
F 'l peso d'una parte, che si slacci
Dall'altra ancora e caschi gi 'l tamburo;
I vicini paura pi non hanno,
Mentre ch'il foco non p fa' pi danno.

Tappo lo sdegno suo sfog pretese,
Per esser di ciarvello assai fumante,
Con quella signorina, che scortese,
Nol volze accett mai per su' cascante.
Perche 'l disprezzo petto se lo prese,
Ne fece 'sta vendetta stravagante;
Non sapeva, n haveva mai sentito,
Che fusse Ciumachello el favorito.

Mentre fornisce el foco de smorzarzi,
E che lassa colei di sbigottirzi,
Ciumachello s'infoia, e vu trovarzi
Con Tappo, e dell'affronto risentirzi;
M non gli basta gi, pe' vendicarzi,
E d'ingiurie, e di chiacchiere servirzi,
M curre, e giusto f, come i can corzi,
Ch'a sbran vanno li cignali, l'orzi.

Pare propio che voglia in carne e in ossa,
Divorarzi colui; per mezzo passa,
À chi d un gomitone, chi 'na scossa,
E te la f da Capitan Fragassa;
Trova Tappo, e pe' dagli una percossa,
La scopa, ch'alta gi teneva, abbassa,
Gl'azzolla una scopata in s la gnucca,
E te gl'attacca foco alla perucca.

Il ved la gran fiala in aria alzata,
De i capelli brusciati in t'un momento;
Il sent della gente una fischiata,
Di Tappo l'osserv lo stordimento,
L'esser restato lui coccia pelata,
Il mantenerzi in piedi malo stento,
Se la botta f data mano piena,
Propio 'sta cosa fu, propio 'na scena.

Dalla vergogna mosso, e dalla stizza,
Tappo allora con impeto foiardo
Verzo 'l nemico, con un zompo schizza,
Che par, quanno s'arrabbia, un gatto pardo.
Per accoppallo bene, in alto arrizza
La su' scopa, e gl'avvia, assai gagliardo
Un colpo da sfonnagle il capitello,
M lesto, se lo para Ciumachello.

Ecco una zuffa all'improvviso fatta,
Che somigliante non s' mai veduta,
Par che in giostra con lancie si combatta,
E scopicchi el nemico ogn'un s'aiuta.
S'affiala Ciumachello la corvatta
Per una botta inverzo grugno havuta;
Lui con la man presto la fiamma stregne,
E quella si soffoga, e alfin si spegne.

Colpi da disperati ecco si tirano,
E fe' ch'a malo stento se li parano,
Di qu e di l, per azzeccasse girano,
E fa' scanzi di vita allor imparano;
Le genti inframezzate si ritirano,
Perch, se quelli le scopate zarano,
E in dove hanno la mira non azzeccano,
Calche battuta ancor queste ce leccano.

Fratanto chi una coccia e chi una scorza
Tira, per imped colpi si fieri,
M non giova, ch'i sgherri fanno forza,
E par che l'uno accopp l'altro speri.
S'urtan le scope, e 'l foco allor si smorza,
Restano i zeppi abbrustoliti e neri,
E mentre che s i grugni se le danno,
Come du' carbonari acconci stanno.

Vede Meo da lontano il tiritosto;
Il cavallo spirona pe' ciarisse
Che sia 'sto chiasso, e se ne v disposto
A gastig chi ardisce fa' 'ste risse.
Arriva al fine i due sgherrosi accosto,
E Che si fa? fermate ol gli disse,
Et, oh' gran fatto! questa sola voce
Si ferm, si forn guerra s atroce.

85

Cos di Meo restorno alla presenza
Li due scopa-mostacci, et ubbidirno
All'ordine di lui, che de potenza,
Ferm li fece, e loro si spartirno;
Te gli brava, e gli d, pe' penitenza,
Che ritornino casa, e non ardirno,
Di contrad; m prima pe' commanno
Di lui, che cos vu, la pace fanno.


70 - 83

While this new kind of lights
Where making a great show,
Two young roman hot-heads
Thought of doing something strange.
One of them is called Tappo, the other Ciumachello;
They carried two very long whitewasher brushes,
High above, and to see these giant fires
Drift along the way, was a joy to behold.

While this gaiety was going on,
Something happened, that we may consider a prank;
At first, it seemed to be very funny,
But little by little it caused trouble.
A shutter jutted from a window,
And Tappo set it on fire;
Since he was holding such a tall brush,
This happened quite easily.

Being made of dry wood, and badly worm-eaten,
Due to its age, the shutter caught fire at once,
While the neighbors began to worry
About the risk of consequences.
Ciumachello, in dismay, came rushing
To settle the problem, and with his own tall brush
He wanted to extinguish the flames,
But the brush too caught fire, as the shutter.

So everybody shouted; but more than others,
a certain lady who lived there did so;
She was a beautiful girl,
And Ciumachello had been courting her:
She could be heard yelling wildly,
And her friend tried even harder,
In the attempt of finding very soon
A remedy for the fire.

But the same fire put an end to the trouble,
And finally quelled the risk,
Because the flames reached one of the cords
By which the shutter was bound to the wall.
The weight on one side made the other side loosen,
As well, and caused the cylinder to fall down;
The neighbours stopped being afraid,
As the fire could no longer harm them.

Tappo, who was a hot-head,
Had sought for revenge
Upon the girl, who had been unkind,
Having refused him as her lover.
Irritated for having been despised by her,
He had avenged himself in this extravagant way;
He did not know, nor had he ever heard,
That Ciumachello was her favourite.

While the fire extinguished completely,
And the lady stopped worrying,
Ciumachello lost his temper, and went for Tappo,
Willing to complain for the offence;
But insults and vane words were not enough
For taking his revenge,
So he rushed towards him as hounds do in a hunt,
Sinking their fangs into a boar or a bear.

It really seemed as if he had the intention
Of devouring the other guy; amidst the crowd,
He pushed his way through with his elbows,
Acting as a blusterer;
He found Tappo, and in order to give him a blow,
He lowered the brush, which he had already lifted,
Landing a good knock on his head,
And setting his wig on fire.

The sight of the huge flames rising
All of a sudden from the hair ablaze,
The sound of the crowd's boos,
The surprise painted on Tappo's face,
Having remained bald
And barely able to stand,
As the stroke had been landed with full strength,
Was really an incredible scene.

Moved by shame and by rage,
Tappo, with a vigorous surge
Leapt towards his enemy,
Looking as angry as a lynx.
To serve him well, he lifted his brush
High above, and energically lowered
A stroke that could have crushed his head,
But Ciumachello swiftly parried it.

Suddenly, this turned into a brawl
Of a kind never seen before;
It seemed as if they were fighting with spears,
Each of them doing his best to brush his opponent.
Ciumachello's tie caught fire
After having received a frontward blow;
With his hand, he clutched the flame,
That faded away and finally extinguished.

They gave each others crazy strokes,
Which both of them barely manage to parry;
To be on the target, they kept turning round,
Learning how to dodge blows with their waist;
The people all around move out of the way,
Because since the two kept landing blows,
Failing to reach the spot they had aimed at,
They might get hit by them.

Meanwhile the crowd threw fruit-peel and rinds
At them, to prevent them from striking so hard,
But alas, the braves kept fighting,
As if each of them tried to kill the other.
As their brushes clash, the fire dies out,
Their bristle remains all burnt and blackened;
By hitting themselves in the face with them,
They get covered with soot, like coalmen.

Meo noticed the brawl from afar;
He urged his horse, to see
What all this fuss was about, with the intention
Of punishing who dared taking part to such fights.
Finally he arrived, and standing beside the braves
he said Well then? Stop at once ,
And oh, that's amazing! This command alone
Put an end to such a terrible fight.

85

So the two foolish brush-wielders stood
In the presence of Meo, obeying
His energic order, that had made them stop,
And they finally separated;
He scolded them, and as a penance,
He ordered them to return home,
And they dared not contradict his words;
But first, he ordered them to make peace.