About Life and Death: Vitti ‘na crozza

Until some time ago, I had a love-hate relationship with my language, the Sicilian language, but now I appreciate it in all its nuances, its witty popular sayings, its power of expression and ability to conjure up vivid images in the mind through words.

Since I am very proud of being Sicilian, I thought I would dedicate an article to the most famous folk song of my homeland: “Vitti ‘na crozza”. As regards the history of its origin, I suggest you refer to the website: http://www.argocatania.org/2010/08/14/vitti-na-crozza-storia-di-una-canzone/
My favourite version of this song is an overwhelming interpretation by tenor Michelangelo Verso that is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvjcJBjjdS4
I also recommend that you take time to read an interview with the tenor’s son at: http://pensierimeridionali.blogspot.it/2013/07/unintervista-con-michelangelo-verso-jr.html

It has been a real pleasure to translate the original lyrics into English and German and I hope you will enjoy the result:

Vitti ‘na crozza supra nu cannuni,
fui curiusu e ci vosi spiari.
Idda m’arrispunniu cu gran duluri,
“Murivi senza toccu di campani”.
Sinn’ eru, sinni eru li me anni,
sinn’ eru, sinni eru e ‘un sacciu unni.
Ora ‘ca su’ arrivati a ottant’anni,
u’ vivu chiama e u’ mortu ‘un arrispunni.
Cunzatemi, cunzatemi stu’ lettu,
cca di li vermi su’ manciatu tuttu.
Si nun lu scuntu ‘cca’ lu me piccatu,
lu scuntu a chidda vita, a sangu ruttu.
Idda m’arrispunniu cu gran duluri,
“Murivi senza toccu di campani!”
I saw a skull on a watch tower
I was curious so I started to question it
It answered with great sorrow
“I died but no bells tolled”
They have all gone, my years have all gone
They have gone but I don’t know where
Now that I am eighty years old
The living calls, but the dead does not reply.
Prepare, prepare my bed
Worms have eaten up my flesh
If I do not overcome all sin in this life
I will overcome it in the next life.
It answered with great sorrow
“I died but no bells tolled”.
Ich sah einen Totenschädel auf einem Aussichtsturm,
ich war neugierig und wollt’ ihn befragen.
Er antwortete mir leidensvoll,
„Ich starb, ohne dass die Totenglocken geläutet haben“.
Sie sind alle dahin, meine Jahre sie schwanden dahin.
Sie schwanden dahin doch ich weiß nicht, wohin.
Nun bin ich achtzig Jahre alt,
der Lebende ruft und der Tote antwortet nicht.
Bereitet, bereitet mir ein Bett,
denn die Würmer fressen mich auf.
Wenn ich meine Sünden jetzt nicht büße,
werde ich sie büßen im nächsten Leben.
Er antwortete mir leidensvoll,
„Ich starb, ohne dass die Totenglocken geläutet haben“.

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