The images below are someone’s child’s; they are everyone’s children’s…In all of Italy children have been colouring these posters and placing them over doors and on balconies, because, as they say: Everything is going to be all right!



Roberto Piumini

Che cos’ è che in aria vola?
C’ è qualcosa che non so?
Come mai non si va a scuola?
Ora ne parliamo un po’.

Virus porta la corona,
ma di certo non è un re,
e nemmeno una persona:
ma allora, che cos’ è?

È un tipaccio piccolino,
così piccolo che proprio,
per vederlo da vicino,
devi avere il microscopio.

È un tipetto velenoso,
che mai fermo se ne sta:
invadente e dispettoso,
vuol andarsene qua e là.

È invisibile e leggero
e, pericolosamente,
microscopico guerriero,
vuole entrare nella gente.

Ma la gente siamo noi,
io, te, e tutte le persone:
ma io posso, e anche tu puoi,
lasciar fuori quel briccone.

Se ti scappa uno starnuto,
starnutisci nel tuo braccio:
stoppa il volo di quel bruto:
tu lo fai, e anch’ io lo faccio.

Quando esci, appena torni,
va’ a lavare le tue mani:
ogni volta, tutti i giorni,
non solo oggi, anche domani.

Lava con acqua e sapone,
lava a lungo, e con cura,
e così, se c’ è, il birbone
va giù con la sciacquatura.

Non toccare, con le dita,
la tua bocca, il naso, gli occhi:
non che sia cosa proibita,
però è meglio che non tocchi.

Quando incontri della gente,
rimanete un po’ lontani:
si può stare allegramente
senza stringersi le mani.

Baci e abbracci? Non li dare:
finché è in giro quel tipaccio,
è prudente rimandare
ogni bacio e ogni abbraccio.

C’ è qualcuno mascherato,
ma non è per Carnevale,
e non è un bandito armato
che ti vuol fare del male.

È una maschera gentile
per filtrare il suo respiro:
perché quel tipaccio vile
se ne vada meno in giro.

E fin quando quel tipaccio
se ne va, dannoso, in giro,
caro amico, sai che faccio?
io in casa mi ritiro.

È un’ idea straordinaria,
dato che è chiusa la scuola,
fino a che, fuori, nell’ aria,
quel tipaccio gira e vola.

E gli amici, e i parenti?
Anche in casa, stando fermo,
tu li vedi e li senti:
state insieme sullo schermo.

Chi si vuole bene, può
mantenere una distanza:
baci e abbracci adesso no,
ma parole in abbondanza.

Le parole sono doni,
sono semi da mandare,
perché sono semi buoni,
a chi noi vogliamo amare.

Io, tu, e tutta la gente,
con prudenza e attenzione,
batteremo certamente
l’ antipatico birbone.

E magari, quando avremo
superato questa prova,
tutti insieme impareremo
una vita saggia e nuova.


Roberto Piumini

What’s that thing flitting all about?
What is it that I’m missing?
Why is it, now, that school is out?
I’ll tell you, so just listen.

Virus is donning a lovely crown
but it’s surely not a king.
It’s not a child, a man or woman:
so what the heck is this thing?

It’s a tiny imp, a scamp that’s what
and so very small indeed,
that if you want to see it close up
it’s a microscope you’ll need.

The little guy is malevolent
and unable to keep still:
it’s naughty and very insolent
and wants to travel at will.

It’s invisible and very light
and, treacherously, this
teeny tiny warrior will fight
to get inside each one of us.

However, we are the people here,
me, you, and lots of others:
and I can, and you can, have no fear,
keep the rascal out forever.

When you have the urge to sneeze, alright
do it, sure, but in your sleeve:
stop that brute as it’s taking flight:
we can do it if we just believe.

If you go out, when you come back in
don’t dillydally, wash those hands:
each and every time, again and again,
today, and the day after that.

Scrub with soap and water, make ‘em clean,
take your time, do it thoroughly,
if the rascal’s there, he soon won’t be.
Down the drain he’ll go, entirely.

Stop your fingers from fiddling with
your eyes, your nose, and your mouth:
not because it’s not permitted,
but because it’s best, and also couth.

If you happen to meet somebody,
learn to keep your distance:
we can come together merrily
without shaking hands, for instance.

Hugs and kisses? Try to abstain:
for as long as the imp is here
we must all learn to refrain
for the good of everyone near.

Some people are wearing masks about us,
but they are not in costume,
and no robbers are trying to rob us
or to cause us any harm.

The mask is a peaceful one
to filter the air we breathe:
so that the vile son-of-a-gun
will finally pick up and leave.

And for as long as the rascal’s about,
do you know what I believe,
dear friend, do you know what?
My lovely house I will not leave.

What an idea! Fantastic indeed,
because school will be out
for as long as the rascal’s free
to hop and skip happily about.

And what of my friends and family?
What’s to worry? Whether near or far
you can see them when you please
on the screens of your telephone.

If you love someone, well, distance
is not a problem: you can’t hug and kiss
each other now, but words, yes,
those you can share in abundance.

The words we speak are our gifts to them,
they are the seeds which we sow,
they are the best seeds we have of love
for all the people we know.

I, you, and every other human,
with some care and attention,
will without doubt dethrone
this obnoxious rapscallion.

And perhaps, when all is said and done,
and we’ve overcome this trial
together we will all have learned
to lead a new life, newer and wiser.

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi

Roberto Piumini is thought to be the most important children’s writer in Italy. Not an Italian school book is without his rhymes and stories. Millions of Italian children have grown up listening to his words, learning from his stories, and chanting his rhymes. Especially my own.

This rhyme was born because the healthcare structure Humanitas San Pio X in Milano asked him to speak to children about the coronavirus. And that is exactly what he did: he put pen to paper and created a serious and educational and yet fun rhyme to help children understand what is happening around them. It is, like all his work, a beautifully enlightening piece that makes us smile even today…

I have tried to do my best to make his words ring out in English too, so that they may also reach other children.

The rhyme was first published on Famiglia Cristiana: here

I would like the author for permission to translate and post. Forever grateful!

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

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