Come again, with a humble heart, to my place

Another of Giuseppe Belli’s sonnets, as translated by Miller Williams

The confessor

“Father …” “Say the confiteor.” “I did.”
“did you do the act of contrition?” “Father, or course.”
“Go on.” “I called my husband a shit-head.
Also I ripped off a lady’s purse.”

“What else?” “I said damn you to my cat.
It broke a bowl, but it’s a creature of God.”
“What else did you do?” “I met this young man
a little while ago, and we went to bed.”

“What did you do?” “A little out and in.”
“I hope he put it in the proper part.”
“The back way, too.” “But that’s an awful sin.

Because of this young man, at any rate,
I want you to come again, with a humble heart,
to my place, tomorrow, say about eight.”

Er confessore

«Padre…». «Dite il confiteor». «L’ho ddetto».
«L’atto di contrizione?» «Ggià l’ho ffatto».
«Avanti dunque». «Ho ddetto cazzo-matto
a mmi’ marito, e jj’ho arzato un grossetto».

«Poi?» «Pe una pila che mme róppe er gatto
je disse for de mé: “Ssi’ mmaledetto”;
e è ccratura de Ddio!». «C’è altro?» «Tratto
un giuvenotto e cce sò ita a lletto.

«E llí ccosa è ssucesso?» «Un po’ de tutto.
«Cioè? Sempre, m’immagino, pel dritto».
«Puro a rriverzo…». «Oh che peccato brutto!

Dunque, in causa di questo giovanotto,
tornate, figlia, cor cuore trafitto,
domani, a casa mia, verso le otto».

To be gulped down by the throat of death

From Miller Williams’ Sonnets of Giuseppe Belli – a selection of ~100 of the total 2000+.  I discovered Belli recently through Nuccio Ordine’s lovely Une Annee Avec Les Classiques.

The Coffeehouse Philosopher

People differ the way one coffee bean
in a sack will differ from another
when they’re spooned into some expresso machine
to meet the fate they all come to together.

They go round and round, behind, before,
always changing place; they’ve barely begun
when there they go through that iron door
that crushes them into powder, all one.

So all the people live on this earth,
mixed together by fate, swirled around
and changing places, bumping along from birth.

not knowing or caring why, some out of breath,
some taking it easy, all sinking toward the ground
to be gulped down by the throat of death.

‘Italian’ from Mecello Teodonio’s 1998 edition:

Er caffettiere fisolofo

L’ommini de sto Monno sò ll’istesso
che vvaghi de caffè nner mascinino:
c’uno prima, uno doppo, e un antro appresso,
tutti cuanti però vvanno a un distino.

Spesso muteno sito, e ccaccia spesso
er vago grosso er vago piccinino,
e ss’incarzeno tutti in zu l’ingresso
der ferro che li sfraggne in porverino.

E ll’ommini accusí vviveno ar Monno
10misticati pe mmano de la sorte
che sse li ggira tutti in tonno in tonno;

e mmovennose oggnuno, o ppiano, o fforte,
senza capillo mai caleno a ffonno
pe ccascà nne la gola de la Morte.

And a bonus version by Peter Nicholas Dale, rendered in what a note tells me is called “Strine, the dialect spoken in Australia down to the 1960s.”

The coffee-pot f’lofficer

The men a this wirld, well, the lod are all like . .
Beans in a coffee grinder as they’re getten groundèd:
Wun pops up after anutha as they riggle in that tite
Space, but in the end they’re all faded ta be pounded.

Offen they switch pozzies, an wun’ull elbow away,
If he’s bigger, the smaller bean ta the ouder,
They tumble ad each utha’s heels in the doorway
T’wards the ion screw’ut’ull flatten’em in’a mere powder.

An that’s how men live here on earth, I’ve foun’:
Fate wirks the lottuv’em in’u’a fine blend
As it spins’em, wun an all, round an roun’,

An as each wun moves, slow or strong, big or thin,
They all sift thru, clueless, ta the bottom, an end
Up fallen down its craw as deth drinks’em in.