#MM Fabrizio De Andrè / Bocca di Rosa

One of my Italian teachers mentioned this song in class but said De Andrè’s lyrics can be like poetry, so they may be a little difficult for us to understand.

To me, that was a clearly-stated challenge.

And yes, whereas the words were poetry, he used a bit of the passato remoto and some words that are a bit antiquated, it wasn’t as difficult to understand as I had feared.  With a bit of a “Scarlet Letter” theme, Fabrizio tells the tale of a young woman with a lot of passion who is run out of town by the older, married women, only to discover that her liveliness and loving nature are actually deeply adored by the townspeople.  Enjoy!


Fabrizio De Andrè / Bocca di Rosa

La chiamavano bocca di rosa  (They used to call her “mouth of rose”)
metteva l’amore, metteva l’amore, (she put love, she put love)
la chiamavano bocca di rosa (They used to call her “mouth of rose”)
metteva l’amore sopra ogni cosa. (she put love above everything)

Appena scese alla stazione (She just arrived to the station)
nel paesino di Sant’Ilario (in a small town called Saint Ilario)
tutti si accorsero con uno sguardo (everyone realized with a glance)
che non si trattava di un missionario. (that she wasn’t a missionary)

C’è chi l’amore lo fa per noia (There are those who make love out of boredom)
chi se lo sceglie per professione (those who chose it for a profession)
bocca di rosa né l’uno né l’altro (Mouth of Rose is neither one nor the other)
lei lo faceva per passione. (She does it for passion)

Ma la passione spesso conduce (But passion often leads)
a soddisfare le proprie voglie (to satisfy one’s own desires)
senza indagare se il concupito (without inspecting if the coveted one)
ha il cuore libero oppure ha moglie. (has a free heart or has a wife)

E fu così che da un giorno all’altro (And it was like this that from one day to another)
bocca di rosa si tirò addosso (Mouth of Rose pulled close onto her)
l’ira funesta delle cagnette (the deadly wrath of the bitches)
a cui aveva sottratto l’osso. (whose bone she had taken away)

Ma le comari di un paesino (but the busy-bodies of a town)
non brillano certo in iniziativa (Not shining, of course, in initiative)
le contromisure fino a quel punto (the counter-measures up to that point)
si limitavano all’invettiva.  (limited themselves to insults)

Si sa che la gente dà buoni consigli (One knows knows that people give good advice)
sentendosi come Gesù nel tempio, (feeling like Jesus in the temple)
si sa che la gente dà buoni consigli (One knows that people give good advice)
se non può più dare cattivo esempio. (if they can no longer give a bad example)

Così una vecchia mai stata moglie (So an old woman who had never been a wife)
senza mai figli, senza più voglie, (without any children, without any more desires)
si prese la briga e di certo il gusto (took on the dispute and certainly the pleasure)
di dare a tutte il consiglio giusto. (to give everyone the right advice)

E rivolgendosi alle cornute (and addressing the cheated women)
le apostrofò con parole argute: (she upbraided them wittily)
“il furto d’amore sarà punito- (“the theft of love will be punished”)
disse- dall’ordine costituito”. (she said, “from the established orders”)

E quelle andarono dal commissario (And those women went to the police commissioner)
e dissero senza parafrasare: (and they said without paraphrasing:)
“quella schifosa ha già troppi clienti (“that filth already has too many clients)
più di un consorzio alimentare”. (more than a food group”)

E arrivarono quattro gendarmi (Then arrived four policemen)
con i pennacchi con i pennacchi (with plumes, with plumes)
e arrivarono quattro gendarmi (then arrived four policemen)
con i pennacchi e con le armi. (with plumes and with weapons)

Il cuore tenero non è una dote (The pliable heart is not a gift)
di cui sian colmi i carabinieri (of with which policemen are overflowing)
ma quella volta a prendere il treno (but that time they unwillingly)
l’accompagnarono malvolentieri. (accompanied her to a train)

Alla stazione c’erano tutti (At the station, everyone was there)
dal commissario al sagrestano (from the commissioner to the priest)
alla stazione c’erano tutti (At the station, everyone was there)
con gli occhi rossi e il cappello in mano, (with red eyes and hat in hand)

a salutare chi per un poco (to say goodbye to she who, for a bit)
senza pretese, senza pretese, (without pretense, without pretense)
a salutare chi per un poco (to say goodbye to she who, for a bit)
portò l’amore nel paese. (brought love to the town)

C’era un cartello giallo (There was a yellow sign)
con una scritta nera (with black writing)
diceva “Addio bocca di rosa (that said “Goodbye Mouth of Rose)
con te se ne parte la primavera”. (With you departs the Spring”)

Ma una notizia un po’ originale (But news that’s a bit original)
non ha bisogno di alcun giornale (doesn’t need any newspapers)
come una freccia dall’arco scocca (like an arrow cast from the bow)
vola veloce di bocca in bocca. (it flies swiftly from mouth to mouth)

E alla stazione successiva (and at the next station)
molta più gente di quando partiva (many more people than when she left)
chi mandò un bacio, chi gettò un fiore (who sent a kiss, who threw a flower)
chi si prenota per due ore. (who booked themselves for two hours)

Persino il parroco che non disprezza (Even the parish priest who doesn’t scorn)
fra un miserere e un’estrema unzione (between giving mercy and a final anointment)
il bene effimero della bellezza (the fleeting good of beauty)
la vuole accanto in processione. (He wanted her next to him in the procession)

E con la Vergine in prima fila (And with the Virgin first in line)
e bocca di rosa poco lontano (and Mouth of Rose not far behind)
si porta a spasso per il paese (He brings her around the village)
l’amore sacro e l’amor profano. (Sacred love and profane love)




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Turning my obsession with Italy into something I can pretend is constructive. Italy travel tips and stories for everyone.

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