Italy

Giuseppe Masini
1999

INVERNI

A la matina, verzendo la porta
te vedei na roba quasi de incanto,
che e faséa desmentegar fredo
e pensieri: sui rami calinverna
come se fate e maghi ne la note
avesse doparà fili d’argento
par ricamar i disegni piu béi
e darghe vita nova ai rami sechi
di àlbari che gh’era dapartuto.
Dai copi de le case candeloti
tondi de giazzo, che paréa cane
d’organo pronte a sonar na musica
de quele de Nadal o de carneval.
Sui fianchi de le strade o ni fossi,
soto seràie querte de lustrini,
l’acqua giazzà paréa invitarne
a metar da na parte le cartéle
con i so libri par far sbrissiaròle
dove le sgiàvare con le so sole
de legno piene de broche volava
come le fusse patini d’argento:
el fià se giazzava su boche e nasi,
un rugolòn ogni tanto, ma l’era
un gran divertimento, che qualche olta
ne faséa passar de mente scola
e maestri e anca la paura
de qualche scopazzòn tra copa e col.
Rivà la sera, intorno al fogolàr,
paràimo via el fredo del giorno,
con le buganze che le ne sfogàva
ni diéi gonfi, magnandone tochi
de fogazzìn che la mama avéa coto
nel tèsto soto la ҫénar, scoltando
le bele fole che la ne contava
con la so voҫe tranquila la nona
fin che la ne giustava braghe e calze.

L’Approdo, 1999, p. 118


WINTERS

In the morning, opening the door,
you could see something enchanting,
that made you forget the cold
and your troubles: rime on the boughs
as if fairies and wizards, over night
had used silver strings
to embellish the most beautiful paintings
and give new life to the dry branches
of all the trees one could see.
From the roofs, crystals of ice
like candles and
organ-pipes ready to play carols
or carnival songs.
Along the road and in the canals,
under shining covers
the frozen water seemed to welcome you
to put aside schoolbags
and all the books to slide on the ice
where our shoes
made with wood slippered
as if they were silver ice skates:
our breath froze on our mouths and noses,
a sudden fall, but it was
great joy, and sometimes
it made us completely forget about school
and teachers and even of the fear
of being in trouble.
At night, sitting close to the fire,
we fought the cold of the day,
and frostbites
on our hands, by eating good pieces
of the cake mum had cooked
in the ashes, while listening
to those nice tales that grandma
with her tranquil voice
while mending socks and pants told us.


Giuseppe Masini was born in Bovolone, in the region of Veneto, northeast of Italy. He spent his entire life in that place, the area of the Po river valley, that he loved very much. He was a high school professor of Italian for several years and mayor of Bovolone. During his life, he published two poetry collections, L’attesa (1983) and L’approdo (1984). The poem here presented is from his first collection. Giuseppe Masini wrote part of his poems in Italian and part in the dialect that people who live in Bovolone and surroundings speak.

There are numerous dialects in Italy. They follow different phonetic rules and have diverse vocabulary. Each region of Italy has its own dialects; they are many and vary from place to place. Like traditional meals, dialects are part of the collective memory of communities. Strings of memories keep together dialects and food tradition, landscape and history of the places where they are spoken.

In the poem Inverni, there are two words that exemplify this bound. Years ago, winters were rigid in the North East of Italy, humid and cold. The “calinverna” is the frost that covers everything during the night and shines in the sunlight. The standard Italian (non dialect) word for it is “galaverna.” The number of syllables does not vary from the first word to the second, but there are variations in the consonants and in their phonetics. Another word that specifically belong to the dialect spoken in the area of Bovolone is “fogazzìn.” A “fogazzìn” is similar to a doughnut in the shape but it is not fried. Fogazzìn comes from the Italian word “focaccia,” which, unlike the “fogazzìn,” can generally be either salty or sweet. Further examples of words in dialect that completely differ from Italian language are: seràie and sgiàvare. In Italian, these words respectively correspond to: lastre (sheets) and zoccoli (clogs).

Like a picture, this poem captures images of collective memory. It creates a string of remembrances that the inhabitants of Bovolone and surroundings can follow back and forth, connecting the past and the present of Italian cultural traits. Each dialect is the shared memory of a community. Because they convey memory and sense of belonging, dialects survive among Italian communities abroad as well.

Prepared by Leonora Masini

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