Cecco Angiolieri (c.1260-1312) La stremità mi richer—Sonnet 80

"Misery declares that I'm her son"

Misery declares that I'm her son
and I can surely claim her as my mother;
I was begotten by a fit of gloom,
and suckled on the tit of baleful bother.
When I was born they swaddled me about
in blankets which are commonly called woe,
and from my scalp on down to my big toe
not a single force for good won out.

Finally when I reached manhood's years,
to compensate I got a wife who scolds.
From early morn till starry night I hear
her scolding like an army of guitars.
One whose wife dies has to be a dolt
to get caught twice, or hardened by his scars.


translations©2001 Leonard Cottrell

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La stremità mi richer per figliuolo,
ed i' l'appello ben per madre mia;
e 'ngenerato fu' dal fitto duolo,
e la mia bàlia fu malinconia,
e le mie fasce si fur d'un lenzuolo,
che volgarment'ha nome riccadìa;
da la cima del capo 'nfin al suolo
cosa non regna 'n me che bona sia.

Po' quand'i' fu' cresciuto, mi fu dato
per mia ristorazion moglie che garre
da anzi dì 'nfin al ciel stellato;
e 'l su' garrir paion mille chitarre:
a cu' la moglie muor, ben è lavato
se la ripiglia, più che non è 'l Farre.


Literal saved for reference:

Misery declares me her son
and I can certainly claim her as my mother;
and I was begotten by sharp agony
and my wet-nurse was gloom.
As a babe I was swaddled in blankets
whose common name is trouble;
from the top of my head to my soles,
nothing of good in me prevailed.

Finally when I grew up I was given,
for my consolation/compensation, a wife who scolds
from daybreak on into starry night
and her scolding is like a thousand guitars.
Anyone whose wife dies must be plenty wet [behind the ears]
if he remarries, wetter than Pharos [the Stormy Straits Light.]