S’eo mordo ‘l grasso, tu ne sugi ‘l lardo

Cecco Angiolieri, Sonnet CII, addressed to Dante:

Dante Alighier, s’i’ so bon begolardo,
tu mi tien’ bene la lancia a le reni,
s’eo desno con altrui, e tu vi ceni;
s’eo mordo ‘l grasso, tu ne sugi ‘l lardo;
s’eo cimo ‘l panno, e tu vi freghi ‘l cardo:
s’eo so discorso, e tu poco raffreni;
s’eo gentileggio, e tu misser t’avveni;
s’eo so fatto romano, e tu lombardo.

Sì che, laudato Deo, rimproverare
poco pò l’uno l’altro di noi due:
sventura o poco senno cel fa fare.
E se di questo vòi dicere piùe,
Dante Alighier, i’ t’averò a stancare;
ch’eo so lo pungiglion, e tu se’ ‘l bue.


Dante, if I’m a garrulous fool, I swear
You run a tilt against me quite as hard;
If I dine out with friends, you supper there,
And if I chew the fat, you suck the lard.
I shear the cloth, the nap is yours to raise;
And if I go too far, you’re much too free;
If I have noble, you have learned ways;
If I’m for Rome, well, you’re for Lombardy.
Then, thank the Lord, there’s little to be said
By one against the other as things stand:
From want of wit or luck we take our knocks.
And if you’ve more to say upon this head,
Dante, I’ll wear you down; just understand;
That I’m the gadfly now and you’re the ox.

As sour as my wife, and so I hate it

Sonnet LXV of Cecco Angiolieri, in the co-translation of C.H. Scott and Anthony Mortimer.  Which is a curious way of phrasing Mortimer’s revision of Scott’s edition from ~1920, ranging from no changes to full re-renderings.  I find Cecco’s Italian bewildering but not so much that I can’t tell how far from the letter – if not the sense – these translations range.

 Tutto quest’anno ch’è, mi son frustato
di tutti i vizi che solìa avere;
non m’è rimasto se non quel di bere,
del qual me n’abbi Iddio per escusato,
ché la mattina, quando son levato,
el corpo pien di sal mi par avere;
adunque, di’: chi si porìa tenere
di non bagnarsi la lingua e ’l palato?
E non vorrìa se non greco e vernaccia,
ché mi fa maggior noia il vin latino,
che la mia donna, quand’ella mi caccia.
Deh ben abbi chi prima pose ’l vino,
che tutto ’l dì mi fa star in bonaccia;
i’ non ne fo però un mal latino.


Throughout this year I duly have restrained
Every habitual vice excepting drink,
From which, it’s true, I have no quite refrained,
But god’s forgiven me for that, I think.
Each morn it seems to me when I arise,
As if my body were filled up with salt;
Then say who would forbear, however wise,
From washing out his mouth? It’s not my fault.
I only want Vernaccia or Greek wine,
I loathe your common house wine, which is sour,
As sour as my wife, and so I hate it.
God bless the man who first improved the vine,
To which I owe full many a happy hour;
I’ll never say a word to denigrate it.