La farandola dei fanciulli


Eugenio Montale


La farandola dei fanciulli sul greto

era la vita che scoppia dall’arsura.

Cresceva tra rare canne e uno sterpeto

il cespo umano nell’aria pura.


Il passante sentiva come un supplizio

il suo distacco dalle antiche radici.

Nell’età d’oro florida sulle sponde felici

anche un nome, una veste, erano un vizio.

The children’s farandole


Eugenio Montale


The children’s farandole on a pebbled bank

was life exploding from the sunbaked glare.

It grew among rare cattails and scrubland

a human tuft in the purest air.


The passerby sensed a sort of anguish

for the remoteness of his life of yore.

In that florid gold age on the joyful shore

even a name, a garment, were a vice.


Translation © Matilda Colarossi 2018

The poem is from the collection “Ossi di seppia/ Cuttlebones”.

The farandole is a lively Provençal dance in which people hold hands, form a chain, and follow a leader through a serpentine course. Montale often uses the names of French or Spanish dances, words that create mental images of movement. In this case, it reinforces the memory of happy times past, the explosion of life, which is in striking contrast with the present-day poverty of existence.

This poem is built around two stanzas which are concentrated on one of the themes of the collection Ossi di seppia (Cuttle bones): child’s play and the rational adult view of the world; and summer (“arsura estiva/ arid glare”).

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