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Today is a real winter’s day up here in our little village in the mountains: a lot of crispy white snow, limpid blue sky, and icicles dangling from the drain pipes. Gigia, one of our six cats, has been having fun exploring the fluffy white carpet that has covered our patio, and seems very excited about this strange new play material! This made me think of a simple little poem written by one of the masters of children’s rhymes, Gianni Rodari.
Gianni Rodari (23 October 1920 – 14 April 1980) was an Italian writer and journalist, still famous today for his books for children. In 1970 he won the prestigious international Hans Christian Andersen Award, and is considered to be the most important twentieth-century Italian children’s author. His books have been translated into many languages, though few have been published in English.
Gigia explores the snow
The poem Il Gatto Inverno (The Winter Cat) was published in the book Filastrocche in cielo e in terra, 1960 (“Nursery Rhymes in the Sky and on Earth”, 1960). Here’s the original text, followed by our translation into English:
Il Gatto Inverno
Ai vetri della scuola stamattina
la sua schiena nuvolosa
come un vecchio gatto grigio:
con la nebbia fa i giochi di prestigio,
le case fa sparire
con le zampe imbianca il suolo
e per coda ha un ghiacciolo
Sì, signora maestra,
mi sono un po’ distratto
ma per forza, con quel gatto,
con l’inverno alla finestra
che mi ruba i pensieri
e se li porta in slitta
per allegri sentieri.
Invano io li richiamo:
si saranno impigliati in qualche ramo
e per dolce imbroglio, chiotti chiotti,
fingon d’esser merli e passerotti.
The Winter Cat
At the school windows this morning
the winter rubs
its cloudy back
like an old grey cat:
it plays conjuring tricks with the fog,
it makes the houses disappear
with its paws it turns the ground white
and has an icicle for a tail.
Yes, Mrs teacher,
I’m a bit distracted
but of course, with that cat,
with the winter at the window
that steals my thoughts
and takes them on a sledge
along happy trails.
In vain I call them back:
they must have got caught in some
and by some sweet trick, very quietly,
they pretend to be blackbirds and sparrows.