LI FIJJICHILDREN
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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