Sunday, 19 July 2009


A few days ago I had the chance to talk about Cecco Angiolieri to my grammar class. As you may know, one of the most important currents of Italian classical literature during the early middle age, has been the "Dolce stilnovo". These poets were pursuing the greek ideal of being "kalòs kai agathòs", founding the soon to come Rinascimento in an era still deep into war, violence and ignorance. One of the most characteristic traits of this current was the idealization of the female figure. If you read Dante's "La vita nova" or Petrarca's poems, you will read some of the most touching love lines, culminating in a true adoration of the chosen woman, which becomes a real gift from God, came on Earth "a miracol mostrare".
The center of this new literary era was naturally Florence. Few kilometers south of this paradise on Earth, in Siena, probably just a couple of days on a horse's back away (if you didn't want to travel by night...) a quite unique poet was writing some very different lines.
Cecco Angiolieri was a young poet from Siena, which represent the dark side of the Stilnovo. His destructive charge comes out every rhyme, and his poems talks about gambles, wine and women. There is no room for romanticism here. One of his most famous poems is the one that gives the title to this entry, and that I highly recommend that you read in Italian.

Its rough translation says:
"If I were fire, I'd burn the world.
If I were wind, I'd storm over it.
If I were water, I'd drawn it.
If I were God, I'd throw it in depths.
If I were Pope, I'd be rather happy,
because I'd cause trouble to every Christian.
If I were Emperor, you know what I'd do?
I'd chop everyone's head off.
If I were Death, I'd go to my father,
if I were life, I'd go away from him.
The same I'd do with my mother.
If I were Cecco, as I am and was,
I'd take the young and pretty women,
and leave the old and ugly to others."

1 comment:

Stallion said...

" in an era still deep into war, violence and ignorance"

imagine that, if you will....