Faces and PlacesGenoa

The song of Genoese emigrants – Ma se ghe penso

By January 23, 2012 No Comments

For those who left Genoa and their ligurian villages many years ago, this song brings back memories and Beautiful Liguria wants to dedicate it to them.

“Ma se ghe penso” is a song in the dialect of Genoa. It has a central role in the city folklore and is commonly quoted as one of its symbols.

Its texts speaks of a genoese emigrant, who left his native city for Latin America when he was a boy. Now, many years later, he feels home-sick and dreams of ending his days in the city where he was born. In the songs he says “But, if I think of it, then I imagine the sea, my mountains and the church, the harbour and the lighthouse. I’m tired of hearing spanish words, as I was born in Genoa and there I will come back”. Not with standing his child’s opposition, he finally goes back to Genoa, with a few things.

Ma se ghe penso – Words of M. Cappello Genoese

O l’ëa partio sensa ûn-a palanca,
l’ëa zâ trent’anni, forse anche ciû.
O l’aveiva lottou pe mette i dinæ a-a banca
e poèisene ûn giorno vegnî in zû
e fäse a palassinn-a e o giardinetto,
co-o rampicante, co-a cantinn-a e o vin,
a branda attaccâ a-i ærboi, a ûso letto,
pe daghe ‘na schenâ séia e mattin.
Ma o figgio o ghe dixeiva: “No ghe pensâ
a Zena, cöse ti ghe vêu tornâ?!”

Ma se ghe penso alloa mi veddo o mâ,
veddo i mæ monti e a ciassa da Nonsiâ,
riveddo o Righi e me s’astrenze o chêu,
veddo a lanterna, a cava, lazzû o mêu…
Riveddo a séia Zena illûminâ,
veddo là a Foxe e sento franze o mâ
e alloa mi penso ancon de ritornâ
a pösâ e osse dov’ò mæ madonnâ.

E l’ëa passou do tempo, forse troppo,
o figgio o l’inscisteiva: “Stemmo ben,
dove ti vêu andâ, papà?.. pensiemo doppo,
o viägio, o mâ, t’é vëgio, no conven!” –
“Oh no, oh no! me sento ancon in gamba,
son stûffo e no ne posso pròprio ciû,
son stanco de sentî señor caramba,
mi vêuggio ritornamene ancon in zû…
Ti t’é nasciûo e t’æ parlou spagnollo,
mi son nasciûo zeneize e… no me mollo!”

Ma se ghe penso alloa mi veddo o mâ,
veddo i mæ monti e a ciassa da Nonsiâ,
riveddo o Righi e me s’astrenze o chêu,
veddo a lanterna, a cava, lazzû o mêu…
Riveddo a séia Zena illûminâ,
veddo là a Foxe e sento franze o mâ
e alloa mi penso ancon de ritornâ
a pösâ e osse dov’ò mæ madonnâ.

E sensa tante cöse o l’è partïo
e a Zena o gh’à formóu torna o so nïo.

Translated in english is “But if I think”

He had left without a penny,
it was already thirty years, if not more.
He worked hard to put money in the bank
and so a tomorrow to come back
build the house and the garden,
with ivy, with the cellar and the wine,
the folding-bed on the trees to bed use,
for to take us a nap evening and day.
But the son would say: “Don’t think
why do you want to return to Genoa?!”

But if I think I see the sea,
I see my mounts and square of Nunziata,
I see again Righi, and my heart is tightened,
I see the lantern, the quarry, down there the wharf..
I see again at night Genoa with all its lights,
I see the Foce [ river mouth ] and I can hear the sea
so I think again to return
to lay the bones from my grandmother.

Time passed, maybe too long,
and the son insisting: “We live well,
where do you want to go, daddy?.. we’ll think later,
the journey, the sea, you’re old, it’s not convenient!”
“Oh no, oh no! I still feel fit,
I am fed up and I can’t stand it any longer,
I am tired of hearing señor carramba,
I want to return again…
You are born and you speak spanish,
I am born genoese and… I won’t give up!”

But if I think I see the sea,
I see my mounts and square of Nunziata,
I see again Righi, and my heart is tightened,
I see the lantern, the quarry, down there the wharf..
I see again at night Genoa with all its lights,
I see the Foce (river mouth) and I can hear the sea
so I think again to return
to lay the bones from my grandmother.

He left without many things
and at Genoa he remade again his nest.

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