Giuseppe Gioacchino Bellitrans. Michael Pickering (from the Roma dialect)
Disidera li fijji, eh sora Ghita?
Sí, ppe le bbelle ggioje che vve danno!
Prima, portalli in corpo guasi un anno:
Poi, partorilli a rriscio de vita:

Allattalli, smerdalli: a 'ggni malanno
Sentisse cascà in terra stramortita:
E cquanno che ssò ggranni, oh allora è ita:
Pijjeno sú er cappello, e sse ne vanno.

Cqua nnun ze pò scappà da sti du' bbivi:
Si ssò ffemmine, sgarreno oggni tanto:
Si ssò mmaschi, te viengheno cattivi.

'Gniggiorno un crepacore, un guaio, un pianto! ...
E vvòi disiderà li fijji vivi?!
No, nnò, ccommare: Paradiso santo!*

*Paradiso santo: wish that children enter Paradise at a very early age, when they are still innocent. A popular death wish to children.
Do you really want kids, lady wife?
For the joy that they bring to you here?
Weighed down for three fourths of a year ...
Giving birth at the risk of your life ...

You breastfeed and mop up their
poo and panic at each little cough:
but as soon as they're grown then they're off
hat on head and 'ciao mamma!' to you.

You just can’t escape, either way:
if they’re girls, then they’ll wander, be sure;
if they’re boys they’ll be naughty some day.

Gales of heartbreak and tears to endure.
Are kids what you wanted you say?
My dear, let them die while they’re pure!

Trans. Copyright © Michael Pickering 2002

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