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Canto del servo pastore (English translation)

  • Artist: Fabrizio De André
  • Song: Canto del servo pastore 7 translations
  • Translations: Croatian, English #1, #2, French, German, Spanish, Turkish

Shepherd Servant Song

Versions: #1#2
Where rosemary blossoms, there’s a dark spring.
Where my fate walks, there’s a glimmer of fear.
Which is the way to go, nobody taught me.2
What’s my real name, I still don’t know.3
 
When the Moon is shedding its wool and the sparrow has lost its way,4
when every angel is on a lead and every dog is barking,
take your sorrow in your hand and blow it into the river,
dress your grief in leaves and cover it in feathers.5
 
On every rockrose all the way from here to the sea, there’s a bit of my hair;6
on every cork oak, there’s a drawing by all of my knives.
The love of houses, the white-clad love,
I’ve never known it, and I’ve never betrayed it.7
 
My father —a hawk— my mother —a haystack— they are on the hill;
their bottomless eyes follow my Moon.
Lonely, lonely, lonely night —lone like my [camp] fire—8
please rest your head on my heart and slowly put it out.9
 
  • 1. servo pastore {shepherd servant} was a shepherd who had to work as a shepherd for his master, who was the owner of the sheep; the servant shepherd had no sheep of his own. By working, he could eventually afford to buy his own flock and leave his master.
    The shepherd servant lived a life fully immersed in nature, but a very lonely one, since it was not uncommon for him to spend long periods of time with the sole company of the animals.
  • 2. The original is intentionally ungrammatical, improperly using ‟nessuno me lo imparò” {nobody learnt it to me} instead of ‟nessuno me lo fece imparare” {nobody made me learn it} (or ‟nessuno me lo insegnò” {nobody taught it to me}).
    This a correct construct in some dialects, so it is sometimes (mis)used in Italian too, especially by uneducated people.
  • 3. The shepherd is alone with his sheep and nature; nobody can guide him through life, and the future is a bit scary.
  • 4. The line refers to the white halo around the Moon, which may look like wool, like the fluff sticking out of a woollen cloth.
  • 5. At night, with no (diurnal) birds around, with the Moon out in the sky and dogs barking at it, the sorrow can reach its peak; no angel seems to come help the shepherd.
  • 6. Rockrose (cistus) is a flowering plant typical of macchia mediterranea.
  • 7. The shepherd travels the breadth and width of his land (the song is specifically about Sardinia, where De André lived for a long time, and which he loved).
    He knows it very well —and it shows the signs of his previous wanderings— but he doesn’t know about ‟normal” life. He hasn’t married (with a bride in a white dress), so he hasn’t cheated on his wife either.
  • 8. The same word solo can mean alone, lone, or lonely.
  • 9. He is alone; his only relatives are the land and the animals.
    It seems like his life is going to die out slowly, like the fire through the night.
    Or maybe he’s just waiting for the night to make him fall asleep, so that he can forget about his sorrow.
You can use my translations however you like.
“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.” ― Dalai Lama XIV
Submitted by Stefano8Stefano8 on Mon, 06/02/2017 - 19:00
Last edited by Stefano8Stefano8 on Tue, 07/02/2017 - 20:05
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Canto del servo pastore

Comments
HampsicoraHampsicora    Tue, 07/02/2017 - 19:56

Di niente, figurati. La tua traduzione è ottima ed è arricchita da un apparato di note che aiutano il lettore a capire a fondo il significato della canzone