Monday, August 22, 2016


If I Were...

Cecco Angiolieri (1260-1312), Sonnets, LXXXVI (tr. Luciano Rebay):
If I were fire, I would set the world aflame;
If I were wind, I would storm it;
If I were water, I would drown it;
If I were God, I would send it to the abyss.
If I were Pope, then I would be happy,
For I would swindle all the Christians;
If I were Emperor, do you know what I would do?
I would chop off heads all around.

If I were death, I would go to my father;
If I were life, I would flee from him;
The same I would do with my mother.
If I were Cecco, as I am and I was,
I would take the women who are young and lovely,
And leave the old and ugly for others.

S'i' fosse foco, ardere' il mondo;
S'i' fosse vento, lo tempesterei;
S'i' fosse acqua, i' l'anegherei;
S'i' fosse dio, mandereil en profondo;
S'i' fosse papa, sare' allor giocondo,
Ché tutt'i cristiani imbrigherei;
S'i fosse 'mperator, sa' che farei?
A tutti mozarei lo capo a tondo.

S'i' fosse morte, andarei da mio padre;
S'i' fosse vita, fugirei da lui:
Similemente faria da mi' madre.
S'i' fosse Cecco com'i' sono e fui,
Torei le donne giovani e legiadre:
E vecchie e laide lasserei altrui.
The same, tr. Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
If I were fire, I'd burn the world away;
If I were wind, I'd turn my storms thereon;
If I were water, I'd soon let it drown;
If I were God, I'd sink it from the day;
If I were Pope, I'd never feel quite gay
Until there was no peace beneath the sun;
If I were Emperor, what would I have done?—
I'd lop men's heads all round in my own way.

If I were Death, I'd look my father up;
If I were Life, I'd run away from him;
And treat my mother to like calls and runs.
If I were Cecco (and that's all my hope),
I'd pick the nicest girls to suit my whim,
And other folk should get the ugly ones.

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