“The creative process is innate in humans, and is, therefore–with all it entails as far as the joy of writing and playing with our fantasy is concerned–within everyone’s reach. […] not because everyone should be an artist, but because no one should be a slave.”

Gianni Rodari

Il dittatore

Gianni Rodari

Un punto piccoletto,
superbo e iracondo,
“Dopo di me” gridava
“verrà la fine del mondo!”.

Le parole protestarono:
“Ma che grilli ha pel capo?
Si crede un Punto-e-basta,
e non è che un Punto-e-a-capo”

Tutto solo a mezza pagina
lo piantarono in asso
e il mondo continuò
una riga più in basso.

The dictator

Gianni Rodari

A tiny dot,
arrogant and irascible,
“After me” he’d yell
“will come the end of the world!”

The words protested:
“What bats has he got in his belfry?
He thinks he’s a Full-stop,
and he’s nothing but the start to a New-paragraph”

At all but half a page
they ditched him
and the world carried on
on the next line.

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2019

Nothing could be more appropriate today than this poem by Gianni Rodari (who died on this day 39 years ago). We are witnessing the return of dictators, big and small, of little men– tiny “dots”, “arrogant and irascible”– sowing hatred in their “half a page”…until, of course, the next line.

I tried long and hard to find a solution for Punto-e-basta and Punto-e-a-capo. I ended up using their literal translations: something is, unfortunately, always lost in translation.

For books by Rodari visit Edizioni El : https://www.edizioniel.com/catalogo-anticipazioni/100-gianni-rodari-novita-gennaio-2020/

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