Amerigo (English translation)

  • Artist: Francesco Guccini
  • Song: Amerigo
  • Translations: English
Proofreading requested
English translationEnglish


Most likely, he1 went out,
closing the green door behind him,
Someone had woken up
to hastily prepare him a barley coffee.
I don't know if he looked back,
he wasn't the kind of man who wastes time
in sentimentalism more fitting for rich people
and went his way, effortlessly.
When I first met him,
or in my first memory of him, he was already old
or maybe he struck me as an old man,
but I wasn't in school yet.
He had a striking, bald head
and a mysterious, odd device,
a hernia belt that
looked like a gun holster.
But that morning he had
the face of a 20-year-old, without lines,
and anger and adventure
and still vague ideas about socialism,
harsh words for his father
and behind that, a long story of hunger and migration
and for his job
that crushes and kills, [he had] fatalism.
But that morning he had
new feelings for his home and his mother
and to fight them off he had
in his body the first wine from a cellar
and he could already feel on his face
the smell of fuel and sea of Le Havre
and he could already feel in his mouth
the taste of mine dust.
Back then, for me America was
Roosevelt's G.I.s, the Fifth Army,
America was Atlantis
America was the heart, it was fate,
America was Life,
smiles and white teeth on glossy paper
America was the dreamy,
mysterious world of Donald Duck.
Back then, America was
for me pleasant suburbs, a peaceful world
a lost paradise
subtle melancholy, a simmering obsession,
and Gunga-Din and Ringo,
the heroes of Casablanca and Fort Apache
a dream along the continuous,
obsessive sound of Limentra Creek2.
I don't know how he saw it
when the ship offered him New York, so close,
a forest of skyscrapers
a city of faeces and streets and cries, a castle
and Pavana3 [was] a memory
left between the chestnut trees of the Apennines,
English [was] a weird sound
that hurt his heart like a knife.
And [his life] was work and blood,
it was the same struggle from morning till night
for years [that passed] like jailtime,
[years] of beer and whores, of hard days
of Negroes and Irishmen,
Poles and Italians in the mine
sweat and anthracite
in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri.
He came back, like many others,
a few bucks, his youth already over,
America was a corner,
America was a shadow, a thin fog
America was a hernia,
one of those tricks life plays on you,
it was his habit of saying "boss" for "capo",
"ton" for "tonnellata" and "raif" for "fucile"4.
When I first met him,
or in my first memory of him, he was already old,
dismissive, just like any youngster,
I used to slip past him without understanding5 him
and I couldn't understand that
that man was my face, my [reflection in a] mirror,
until the time comes when
I'll meet him again in front of the entire world,
until the time comes when
I'll meet him again in front of the entire world,
until the time comes when
I'll meet him again in front of the entire world.
  • 1. "Amerigo" is Enrico, Francesco Guccini's great-uncle
  • 2. Small river close to Guccini's ancestral home in Pavana (see below)
  • 3. Guccini's village on the Apennines in central Italy
  • 4. Enrico used English words (boss, ton, rifle) instead of the equivalent Italian ones (capo, tonnellata, fucile). "Raif" approximates the way an Italian speaker would write the sound of "rifle".
  • 5. lit: grasping
thanked 2 times
Submitted by Gyps FulvusGyps Fulvus on Wed, 23/03/2016 - 14:05
Last edited by Gyps FulvusGyps Fulvus on Thu, 07/04/2016 - 15:27
The author of translation requested proofreading.
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