“I feel sorry for men who take others seriously, and am highly amused by those who take themselves seriously.” – Aldo Palazzeschi

La fontana malata

Aldo Palazzeschi

Clof, clop, cloch,

cloffete,

cloppete,

clocchette,

chchch……

E’ giu’,

nel cortile,

la povera

fontana

malata;

che spasimo!

sentirla

tossire.

Tossisce,

tossisce,

un poco

si tace….

di nuovo.

tossisce.

Mia povera

fontana,

il male

che hai

il cuore

mi preme.

Si tace,

non getta

piu’ nulla.

Si tace,

non s’ode

rumore

di sorta

che forse…

che forse

sia morta?

Orrore

Ah! no.

Rieccola,

ancora

tossisce,

Clof, clop, cloch,

cloffete,

cloppete,

chchch….

La tisi

l’ uccide.

Dio santo,

quel suo

eterno

tossire

mi fa

morire,

un poco

va bene,

ma tanto….

Che lagno!

Ma Habel!

Vittoria!

Andate,

correte,

chiudete

la fonte,

mi uccide

quel suo

eterno tossire!

Andate,

mettete

qualcosa

per farla

finire,

magari…

magari

morire.

Madonna!

Gesù!

Non più!

Non più.

Mia povera

fontana,

col male

che hai,

finisci

vedrai,

che uccidi

me pure.

Clof, clop, cloch,

cloffete,

cloppete,

clocchete,

chchch…

The sick fountain

Aldo Palazzeschi

Clough, clop, cluck,

cloughing,

clopping,

clucking,

ckckck……

And down,

in the yard,

the poor

sick

fountain;

such anguish!

to hear

him cough.

Coughing,

coughing,

a bit

then stop…

again.

coughing.

My poor

fountain,

your malady

to me

is just

heartbreaking.

Silence,

no more

spurting.

Silence,

no more

sound

not a bit

perhaps…

perhaps

he’s dead?

Horror

Oh! no.

Here he is,

again

coughing,

Clough, clop, cluck,

cloughing,

clopping,

hckhckhck…

TB is

killing him.

Dear god,

that incessant

coughing

of his

is killing

me,

a touch

is fine,

but no more…

Such whining!

Oh, Habel!

Victoria!

Get going,

get moving,

start closing,

that spring,

that coughing

of his

is killing me!

Get going,

start putting

something

to make

it finish,

perhaps…

perhaps

to perish.

Holy Mother!

Lord!

No more!

No more.

My poor

fountain,

with

the pain

you feel

you’ll see

you’ll kill

even me.

Clough, clop, cluck,

cloughing,

clopping,

clucking

hckhckhck…

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2019

Aldo Palazzeschi (1885-1974) had a distinguished career as a writer and poet, essayist and story-teller. His most famous novels include The Materassi Sisters (1934), The Cuccoli Brothers (1948), and Roma (1953).

The poem is a sequence of onomatopoeic words that describe the sounds that the poet hears from his room. The fountain down in the courtyard is “sick”, and making him sick, and it is making all the coughing noises of a person with  “la tisi”: it cloughs, and clops, and clucks; and it is just breaking the poet’s heart. He can’t bear to hear it and asks his maid and butler to go down to close the tap, to take it out of it’s misery, and there is, in fact, a moment of silence until…”clough, clop, cluck…” the fountain starts up again.

In this poem, like in many other works by the author, the subject is an everyday object, and the poet’s attention is focused on one of life’s most simple things, personifying it, giving it life.

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