It’s always hard to translate dialect or, rather, slang. Slang can be so diverse. Trilussa enjoys writing in Romanesco, the dialect of Rome. I did my best, and maybe I failed, but the meaning here goes far beyond the words: live your life to the fullest; ride your scooter until you’re almost 97 years old; eat, bicker, hoard, complain, and move heavy pots around until you breathe your last breath.

La tartaruga  


Mentre una notte se n’annava a spasso,
la vecchia tartaruga fece er passo più lungo
de la gamba e cascò giù
cò la casa vortata sottoinsù.
Un rospo je strillò: “Scema che sei!
Queste sò scappatelle che costeno la pelle…
―lo sò rispose lei―ma prima de morì,
vedo le stelle.
The tortoise


While wanderin’ round one night,
the old tortoise goes an’ oversteps hisself
and he tumbles to the ground
with his house lookin’ upside down.
A toad yells loud: “What a dumbass!
Them’s slipups that’ll cost you your life…”
―I know, says the tortoise―but before I die,
I see stars.

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2022    

For my father.

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

One thought on “Trilussa: La tartaruga/ The tortoise

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