Ogni uomo è stato un bambino

Alfonso Gatto

Ogni uomo è stato un bambino

pensate – un bel bambino.
Ora ha i  baffi, la barba,
il naso rosso, si sgarba
per nulla… Ed era grazioso
ridente arioso
come una nube nel cielo turchino.
Ogni uomo è stato un monello
pensate – un libero uccello
tra alberi case colori.
Ora è solo un signore
fra tanti signori,
e non vola,
e non bigia la scuola.
Sa tutto e si consola
con una vecchia parola
Chi è?
Ditelo voi, bambini ignari
che caminate con un sol piede sui binari;
e scrivete “abbasso tutti
gli uomini brutti”
col gesso e col carbone
sul muro del cantone.
Ditelo voi, bambini.
«…un gallo chioccio che fa coccodè!».

Every man was once a child

Alfonso Gatto

Every man was once a child
just think – a lovely child.
Now he has whiskers, and stubble,
and a red red nose, which he loathes
for no reason…He was cheery
content and airy
just like a cloud in a clear blue sky.
Every man was once a handful
just think – free as an eagle
among the trees houses and colours.
Now he is only a man
among many others,
he no longer soars,
he no longer plays hooky.
He knows and is consoled
by a word that is very old
Who is he?
Say it, unwitting child
skipping on one foot on the railway tie;
and write “down with all those
those ugly fellows”
using charcoal and chalk
on the streets where you walk.
You say it, child.
“… a raspy rooster going cluck cluck cluck!”

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi

Alfonso Gatto, Italian author and hermetic poet, was, along with Giuseppe Ungaretti and Eugenio Montale, one of the leading 20th century Italian poets.

In this poem the poet regrets not being a child, and he worries because by becoming a man, the child must give up his innocence, his joy of living, his playfulness. His secret and profound wish is that one day man will not live solely for who ‘he is’ , but for ‘what he can do’ through kindness, for himself and for others.

Other poems by the author can be found here:


The book can be bought here:


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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