Poetry corner - Trilussa

Poetry corner – Trilussa

I love poetry that oozes irony and humour. Trilussa (nom de plume of Carlo Alberto Salustri) was born in Rome in 1873 and died there in 1950. He was a poet, novelist and journalist and is best known for the poetry he wrote in the Roman dialect. He relished making social commentary in verse. For over 50 years he wrote about political corruption and the wheeling and dealing of the powerful but was also inspired by melancholy, loneliness and love endings.

His first collection, Le stelle di Roma, was written in 1889 and the last one, La gente, in 1927. Extremely popular in Italy, in 1950 he was appointed Life Senator by Italian president Einaudi. He died twenty days after this nomination.

Carità cristiana is a short poem with a great punch line.

Er Chirichetto d’una sacrestia
sfasciò l’ombrello su la groppa a un gatto
pe’ castigallo d’una porcheria.
– Che fai? – je strillò er Prete ner vedello
– Ce vò un coraccio nero come er tuo
pe’ menaje in questo modo… Poverello!
– Che? – fece er Chirichetto – er gatto è suo? –
Er Prete disse: – No… ma è mio l’ombrello! –

Here is my literal translation into Italian and then into English.

Carità cristiana

Il chierichetto di una sacrestia sfasciò un ombrello sulla groppa di un gatto per castigarlo di una porcheria. “Che fai?” gli strillò il prete nel vederlo. “Ci vuole un gran coraggio come il tuo per dargli botte in questo modo… Poveretto!” “Che?” fece il chierichetto, “il gatto è suo?”. Il prete disse: “No… ma è mio l’ombrello!”

Christian compassion

The altar boy of a sacristy smashed an umbrella on the back of a cat to punish it for the mess it had made. “What are doing?”shouted a priest on seeing him. “You need a lot courage to hit it this way. Poor thing!” “What?” said the altar boy “is the cat yours?”. The priest replied: “No, but the umbrella is!”

Yvette Devlin