Cecco Angiolieri (c 1260-1312) Tre cose solamente mi so' in gradoSonnet 87
"Only three things interest me at all"
Only three things interest me at all:
a bar, a dicegame, and a wench to ball.
These three alone would give my heart delight,
if I could satisfy my appetite.
But rarely have I pleasure of the town
(and when I think of this, life turns to ash)
because my empty wallet lets me down
and frustrates my desire by lack of cash.
And so I say: "Screw him!" that is, my sire,
because he keeps me on such meager fare
that I've grown light enough to send by mail.
It is less possible to get a dime,
from that tight fist, at jolly Eastertime,
than in a dixie cup to catch a whale.
translation©2001 Leonard Cottrell
***literal and notes further down the page***
Tre cose solamente mi so 'n grado,
le quali posso non ben men fornire:
ciò è la donna, la taverna e 'l dado;
queste mi fanno 'l cuor lieto sentire.
Ma sì me le conven usar di rado,
ché la mie borsa mi mett'al mentire;
e quando mi sovvien, tutto mi sbrado,
ch'i' perdo per moneta 'l mie disire.
E dico: Dato li sia d'una lancia!
Ciò a mi' padre, che mi tien sì magro,
che tornare' senza logro di Francia.
Trarl'un denai' di man serìa più agro,
la man di pasqua che si dà la mancia,
che far pigliar la gru ad un bozzagro.
To me only three things are of interest,
which [moreover] I cannot well provide myself:
that is to say a woman, a tavern, and a dicegame;
these make my heart feel happy.
But it rarely works out for me to enjoy them
because my empty wallet lets me down!
When I remember this, everything is ashes,
since I lose my desire by [lack of] money.
And I say: "Screw him!" that is to say, my
Because he keeps me so lean
that I could travel effortlessly from France to here.
Extracting a denarius [coin] from his hand would be harder,
even at Eastertime when everybody is most giving,
than making a sparrowhawk catch a crane.
The bozzagro was a miniature hunting hawk only big enough to catch small prey like sparrows. It was a physical impossibility to take a gru (crane) using a bozzagro just as it would be to catch a whale in a dixie cup.
Cecco says he is so lean he could return to from France to Sienna without cost of effort [senza logro]. In concrete contemporary terms, he is saying he is so thin you could send him airmail, or perhaps by fax.
The phrase Dato li sia d'una lancia!is a medieval expression meaning "Screw him." (Literally: let it be given to him of a lance.)