Io vorrei vivere addormentato

 Sandro Penna


Io vivere vorrei addormentato

entro il dolce rumore della vita.

I would like to live slumbering

 Sandro Penna


I slumbering would like to live

within the gentle clamour of life.


Translation © Matilda Colarossi 2019

This brief creation closes Sandro Penna’s first collection of poems, Poesie (1939). In this famous couplet we read the poet’s desire to live a life of emotions rather than action. In that life, the soft noises of the world would reach him through the protection of slumber, which would, then, allow him to participate in the world around him without being hurt, perhaps.

I have read numerous analyses of the poem, all different, because poetry is what we get from it. This is what I read, and what I got.

In the Italian couplet there are two non-rhyming hendecasyllables. The rhythm is slow and harmonious. To produce this effect Penna uses alliteration, consonance and assonance (io VIVere Vorrei addorm/enT/Ato/; ent/ro il dolce rumore della VITA); and a musical effect made by inverting the syntax (anastrophe) of the first line. Other poetic devices include synaesthesia (dolce rumore/ gentle clamour).

Obviously the same sounds could not be used in translation. In English I have tried to recreate the harmony with the repetition of the letters l and s (consonance); and the vowel o (assonance). The English couplet is made of seven syllables.

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