Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Translating Christmas

   Last week my Roman housemate Micaela was involved in a carol service at the University where she works. She had promised to read aloud a classic seasonal Italian poem, which she wanted to accompany with a slide show incorporating both the text she was reading aloud and an English translation, so that her audience could understand the meaning of her words as well as appreciate the sound. After she and her boyfriend Aaron did a literal translation into English, she asked me to help with paraphrasing a little to better convey the sense of the original poem. I really enjoyed this exercise, but given it was only an hour's work I'm sure it's still not fantastic. Apologies for the lack of accents in the Italian version - I don't know how to do them here!

Buon Natale a tutti, ad ognuno:
alla citta, ai paesi,
ai bambini, agli anziani,
a chi nella serenita raccolta
adagia il suo desiderio di pace
e a chi, anche oggi, e costretto al lavoro.

Buon Natale a chi e nell'ombra,
piegato dal dolore e avvilito dalla solitudine:
non suoni come vuota parola,
sia, invece, l'augurio d'una speranza.

Buon Natale a te, che negle anni
hai perduto l'entusiasmo d'un tempo;
a te, che oltre l'albero e il vischio,
ricerchi il vero valore alla festa.
-Andiamo incontra alla solitudine;
aggiungiamo un piatto e una sedia;
lasciamo socchusiuso l'uscio.
Nessuno sia solo a Natale!

E tu, e noi, finalmente,
dalle note d'un canto di bimbi,
sentiremo nell'animo infusa quella
pace profonda d'un tempo;
nello splendido sguardo innocente,
troveremo riflessa la stella:
la luce dell'antica Natale.

Merry Christmas to one and all:
to the city, to the countryside,
to the young, to the old,
to those who hold their hope
for peace before the gathered calm,
and to those who must work.

Merry Christmas to those in the darkness,
bent over in pain and broken by loneliness:
May our dream of hope
not sound like empty words.

Merry Christmas to you, 
your enthusiasm faded by the passing of years; 
to you, seeking beyond tree and mistletoe
for the true value of festivity.
- Let's confront solitude;
Add a plate and a chair,
leave the door ajar,
let nobody be alone for Christmas!

Lastly, to you and I:
In the notes of children's song 
our souls are bathed again in deep peace; 
In those beautiful innocent eyes
we will find the reflection of the star:
the light of Old Christmas.  

Happy Christmas everyone!                          

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