COSA FA ER PAPA? WHAT'S THE POPE DO?
Giuseppe Belli tr. Leonard Cottrell (from the Roma dialect)
Cosa fa er Papa? Eh ttrinca, fa la nanna,
taffia, pijja er caffe, sta a la finestra,
se svaria, se scrapiccia, se scapestra,
e ttie Rroma pe ccammera-locanna.
Lui, nun avenno fijji, nun z'affanna
A ddirigge' e accorda bbene l'orchestra;
perche, a la peggio, l'urtima minestra
sara ssempre de quello che ccommanna.
Lui l'aria, l'acqua, er zole, er vino, er pane,
li crede robba sua: E tutto mio;
come a sto monno nun ce fussi un cane.
E cquasi quasi goderia sto tomo
de resta ssolo, come stava Iddio
avanti de crea ll'angeli e ll'omo.
What's the pope do? Drinks, and takes a nap;
looks out the window, has a bite to eat,
fiddles with the housemaid's garter strap,
and makes the town a cushion for his feet.
No kids for him; a family man he's not.
Why should he bother with his own brass band
when, come what may, he'll be the first on hand
to get whatever soup is in the pot?
He thinks he owns the earth - it's mine, all mine -
the air and water, bread and wine, the sun -
as if no dog but he could have a bone.
He'd almost almost like to be alone
in all the world, like God - it might be fun -
before he made the angels and mankind.

For more of this translator's work see: http://planck.com/rhymedtranslations/versetrans.htm

Trans. copyright © Leonard Cottrell 1999


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