Song of those who died in vain by Primo Levi

 

Canto dei morti invano

Primo Levi

 

Sedete e contrattate

A vostra voglia, vecchie volpi argentate.

Vi mureremo in un palazzo splendido

Con cibo, vino, buoni letti e buon fuoco

Purché trattiate e contrattiate

Le vite dei nostri figli e le vostre.

Che tutta la sapienza del creato

Converga a benedire le vostre menti

E vi guidi nel labirinto.

Ma fuori al freddo vi aspetteremo noi,

L’esercito dei morti invano,

Noi della Marna e di Montecassino,

Di Treblinka, di Dresda e di Hiroshima:

E saranno con noi

I lebbrosi e i tracomatosi,

Gli scomparsi di Buenos Aires,

I morti di Cambogia e i morituri d’Etiopia,

I patteggiati di Praga,

Gli esangui di Calcutta,

Gl’innocenti straziati a Bologna.

Guai a voi se uscirete discordi:

Sarete stretti dal nostro abbraccio.

Siamo invincibili perché siamo i vinti.

Invulnerabili perché già spenti:

Noi ridiamo dei vostri missili.

Sedete e contrattate

Finché la lingua vi si secchi:

Se dureranno il danno e la vergogna

Vi annegheremo nella nostra putredine.

 

 

Song of those who died in vain

Primo Levi

 

Sit down and negotiate

At pleasure, foxes old and grey.

We shall wall you inside a splendid palace

With food, wine, fine beds and fine fire

So long as you negotiate and renegotiate

The lives of our children and your own.

May all the knowledge in creation

Converge to bless your minds

And to guide you through the maze.

But outside in the cold we shall be waiting for you,

The army of those who died in vain,

We from the Marna and Montecassino,

From Treblinka, Dresden and Hiroshima:

And with us you’ll find

Lepers and trachomatis troops,

Those disappeared in Buenos Aires,

Those who died in Cambodia, who are dying in Ethiopia,

Those who plead in Prague,

The lifeless of Calcutta,

The ravaged innocent in Bologna.

Woe to you should come out of there at odds:

We will envelop you in our embrace.

We are invincible for we are the vanquished.

Invulnerable for we are already extinguished:

We laugh at your missiles.

Sit down and negotiate

Until your tongues become dry:

If the harm and the shame continue to live on

We shall drown you in our putrescence.

 

 

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi

 

 

 

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

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