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Monday, September 17, 2012

Love Poems: on the Streets and Sidewalks of Rome

Rome's walls--the walls of buildings, the sides of trains and Metro cars--are full of graffiti, some of it reaching the level of art, some of it powerfully political, much of it juvenile scribbling. 

Much less common than wall writing, street and sidewalk graffiti appear here and there, most often on the city's ordinary and ugly asphalt sidewalks, but sometimes on the cobblestoned streets.  This form of writing is seldom political, and never artistic--at least not in the bold letters/colorful sense that one normally associates with the best graffiti.  The streets and sidewalks are a space for personal statements: congratulations and best wishes, vows of commitment, and poems of love. 

Among the simpler statements is "Buon Compleanno Princepessa" (Happy Birthday Princess) and "Claudia Ti Amo" (top) which hardly needs translating. 

From a street in Monteverde Vecchio
And "Auguri Dottoressa"--with the date, September 29, 2011.  Auguri means something like "best wishes," and while "Dottoressa" could mean a woman doctor, here it probably means a woman graduate of any program. 

The love poems proved surprisingly difficult to translate, and we sought help from our friend Massimo, a professional translator.

Here's one:
  15.09.11                         September 15, 2011
  Guardami negli occhi     Look me in the eye
  Dimmise non                 Tell me [dialect=dime se non] if you don't                           
  Vedi che io                     See that I
  Sono sempre                   Am always
  Qui X te                          Here for you

Massimo notes that X means "per"--that is, "for"--a custom that derives from the way Italians learn their multiplication tables: 2 X 2 is recited "due per due." 

Another poem:
A Garbatella manifesto
ora che                             now that
ora che 6 con me             now that you're with me
io vivo questo attimo       I live this moment
io vivo fino in fondo        I live fully [to the end of time?]
con te                               with you

Here "6" means "you are" because, in Italian, "6" and "you are" are both spelled and
pronounced "sei." 

And our final example:

Accettami cosi...Ti          Accept me as I am
Prego..non guarda           Please do not look [see below]
..Nella mia testa              Into my most personal thoughts
Ce un mondo da             
Ignorare!                         There is a world to ignore
28.10.11 Ti Amo             October 28, 2011  I love you

Massimo suggests that this poem might have been penned by a non-native Italian: in the second line, "non guarda" should be "non guardare."  Or perhaps the letters "re" are on the white curb and not visible--or the author ran out of space. 

When we found this last poem, it had been on the sidewalk for about 8 months--obviously written with indelible paint.


1 comment:

Ralf said...

I love those street poems. Last year, looking down from the Gianicolo, I found this one: