~ language and poetry ~
- 7 -

Cesare Pascarella

LA SCOPERTA DE L'AMERICA
("The Discovery of America")
1894


altre pagine:
page 2 . . . VI - X
page 3 . . . XI - XV
page 4 . . . XVI - XX
page 5 . . . XXI - XXV
page 6 . . . XXVI - XXX
page 7 . . . XXXI - XXXV
page 8 . . . XXXVI - XL
page 9 . . . XLI - XLV
page 10 . . XLVI - L

- page 1 -

INDEX

IIIIIIIVV




I

Ma che dichi? Ma leva mano, leva!
Ma prima assai che lui l'avesse trovo,
Ma sai da quanto tempo lo sapeva
Che ar monno c'era pure er monno novo!

E siccome la gente ce rideva,
Lui sai che fece un giorno? Prese un ovo,
E lý in presenza a chi nun ce credeva,
Je fece, dice: - Adesso ve lo provo.

E lý davanti a tutti, zitto zitto,
Prese quell'ovo e senza complimenti,
Pàffete! je lo fece regge dritto.

Eh! Ner vedé quell'ovo dritto in piede,
Pure li più contrari più scontenti,
Eh, sammarco! ce cominciorno a crede.



I

What are you saying? Get lost!
Even before he had discovered it,
Do you know how long he had known
About the existence of the New World! 1

And since people laughed at him,
Do you know what he did? He took an egg,
And right there in front of the sceptic people,
He told them: - Now I'll prove it to you.

And there, in front of everybody, without uttering a word
He took that egg, and right away
Crunch! he made it stand straight. 2

Ah, seeing that egg stand straight,
Even the most harsh opposers
Had to believe it, either they liked it or not.

1. - The New World was America, as opposed to Europe, the Old World.
2. - According to a famous legend, once Columbus was challenged to make an egg stand straight on a table, and his witty solution was to crush it at one end, thus making the egg balance on the flattened tip.


II

Ce cominciorno a crede, sissignora;
Ma, ar solito, a 'sto porco de paese
Si vòrse trovà appoggio pe le spese
De la Scoperta, je tocco a annà fôra.

E siccome a quer tempo lý d'allora
Regnava un re de Spagna portoghese,
Agnede in Portogallo e lý je chiese
De poteje parlà p'un quarto d'ora.

Je fece 'na parlata un po' generica,
E poi je disse: - Io avrebbe l'intenzione,
Si lei m'ajuta, de scoprì l'America.

- Eh, fece er re, ched'era un omo esperto,
Si, v'ajuto... Ma, no pe fa eccezione,
Ma st'America c'è? Ne séte certo?

II

They started believing, yes they did;
But in this damn country, as usual,
Wishing to find a sponsor who would cover the expenses
Of the Discovery, he had to go abroad.

And since in those days
Spain was ruled by a Portuguese king,
He went to Portugal, and there he asked him
To have a word with him.

He spoke to him rather generically,
And finally told him: - I'd have the intention,
If you help me, to discover America.

- Ah, said the king, who was a wise man,
Yes, I'll help you... But, not to make an objection,
Does this America exist? Are you sure?


III

- Ah! fece lui, me faccio maravija
Ch'un omo come lei pô; dubitallo!
Allora lei vôr dì che lei mi pija
Per uno che viè qui per imbrojallo!

Nonsignora, maestà. Lei si consija
Co' qualunque sia ar caso de spiegallo,
E lei vedrà ch'er monno arissomija,
Come lei me l'insegna, a un portogallo.

E basta avecce un filo de capoccia
Pe capì che, dovunque parte taja,
Lei trova tanto sugo e tanta coccia.

E er monno che cos'è? Lo stesso affare.
Lei vadi indove vo', che non si sbaja,
Lei trova tanta terra e tanto mare.

III

- Ah! he replied, I'm quite surprised
That a man like you may doubt this.
This would mean that you consider me
A swindler who wants to cheat you!

Not at all, Your Majesty. Feel free to ask
Anybody who can explain this to you,
And you will realize that the world is similar
To an orange, as you know well. 1

And you don't need big brains
To understand that wherever you cut it,
You find as much juice as peel.

And what is the world? Just the same thing.
Go wherever you want, you can't fail,
And you'll find as much land as sea.

1. - This is a play on words, since in Roman dialect oranges are also called portugals; poet Belli too had based one of his sonnets, Er Portogallo (Portugal), dated November 27th 1832, on the same play on words.


IV

Je capacita sto ragionamento?
- Sicuro, fece er re, me piace assai
E, vede, je dirò che st'argomento
Ancora nu' l'avevo inteso mai.

Però, dice, riguardo ar compimento
De l'impresa, siccome... casomai...
- Ma 'bbi pazienza, fermete un momento...
Ma ste fregnacce tu come le sai?


Eh, le so perché ci ho bona memoria.
- Già! Te ce sei trovato! - Che significa?
Le so perchè l'ho lette ne la storia.

- Ne la storia romana? - È naturale.
Ne la storia più granne e più magnifica,
Che sarebbe er gran libro universale.

IV

Does this argument convince you?
- Certainly, said the king, I like it a lot,
And, you see, I'll tell you that this topic
Is totally new to me.

But, he said, to carry out
This enterprise, you know... in the case....
- Wait a minute, hold on one second...
How come you know all this trivia?
1

Ah, I know this because I have good memory.
- Of course! You were there too! - What do you mean?
I know because I read it in a history book.

- A Roman history book? - Of course. 2
In the most excellent and important one,
That is, the great universal textbook. 3

1. - Who speaks now is one of the people whom the story is being told to, who does not trust the speaker.
2. - Obviously, the common people had very little knowledge of real history, or had no knowledge at all.
3. - Likely, the speaker refers to an encyclopaedia, or a similar source.


V

Ché l'antri libri, no pe dinne male,
Nun contrasto, saranno cose bone,
Ma all'urtimo sò tutti tale e quale:
Legghi, legghi, e che legghi? un'invenzione.

Ma invece co' la storia universale
Nun ci hai da facce manco er paragone,
Ché lì ce trovi scritto er naturale
De li fatti de tutte le persone.

Vedi noi? Mò noi stamo a fà bardoria:
Nun ce se pensa e stamo all'osteria...
Ma invece stamo tutti ne la storia.

E per questo m'ha sempre soddisfatto,
Perché in qualunque storia ch'uno pïa,
Tu nun legghi 'na storia; legghi un fatto.

V

I don't criticise other books,
They are good stuff, I agree,
But in the end they are always the same:
You read, read, and what are you reading? fiction.

With universal history, instead,
There is no comparison.
Because there you find all the truth
About facts of all people.

Look at us, right now. We are having a good time:
We are unaware of it, we are at the tavern...
Instead all of us are in history.

This is why universal history has always satisfied me,
Because whatever story you may choose,
You don't read a story, you read a fact. 1

1. - Another play on words, based on the two meanings of "storia": history (facts), and tale (fictional story).