Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Strum, strum

Strum, strum, oh my guitar,
played well you’ll pick up the rhythm.
Strum, oh my guitar, don’t be sleepy, don’t fall sleep,
for you can’t sleep when you’re in love.
Make a bed of violets
with silk mattresses and cushions
and embroidered sheets
and blankets of basil.
Your eyes are beautiful,
your beautiful eyes are like the leaves on the trees,
your sparkling eyes like the leaves on the grapevine.
Listen, o beautiful one, to what I have to say:
I have a few words to say to you,
to keep in mind and never forget...

English translation by Paul Archer of the text of Sona a battenti
by an anonymous Italian composer from the Renaissance period.

Sona a battenti

Sona a battenti sona chitarra mia,
li colpi giusti lo sonatur ti dà.
Sona chitarra mia, ruspiti da lu sonnu non cchiù dormire
e non ci dormi quannu c'avimmo amari.
Nu letto di viole ci lu faciti,
li materazzi e li cuscini di seta
e li lenzoli soni arricamati,
li cuperti soni di vasilicoi.
Sono belli l'occhi toi
e l'occhi toi belli sò li fronni d'arburelli
e l'occhi toi vivaci sò li fronni di vammacia.
Rapilu belli ca t'avi da parlà:
t'ava dicere duje paroli,
tinele a mente nun li scurdà.

Copyright notice. The translation is provided as an aid to musicians and audiences. Publication of the translation in print or digital formats is expressly forbidden unless permission from the author has been first obtained and acknowledgement of authorship is duly made. Permission will usually be granted so please contact Paul Archer with details of how you wish to make use of the translation.

For more translations into English of early music texts, go to:
Translations of early music texts.

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