Italian Language Blog

Non Uccidete Il Mare Posted by on Jun 28, 2017 in Culture

Last week marked the start of gli Esami di Maturità (the A levels/final exams) for thousands of young Italians. The first exam consisted of writing an essay based on one of seven possible materie (subjects): literature, art, technology-science, history, history-politics, sociology-economics, and general.

The students had six hours to complete their task, a break being permitted after at least three hours from the beginning of the test. The only aid allowed was an Italian dictionary, or a bilingual dictionary for students whose mother-tongue wasn’t Italian. If you’re interested, you can find all the themes for the Esame di Maturità here: Prova d’Italiano

Il misterioso lamantino (Trichechus Manatus) incontrato dagli studenti italiani all’esame di maturità! Photo: Public Dominion

The literature choice consisted of a poem by Giorgio Caproni (1912-1990), called Versicoli quasi ecologici (Small Quasi-Ecological Verses), published in his 1991 collection Res Amissa (Lost Thing). Caproni is a modern poet who is not well known to the majority of people, and hardly studied at all in school. The theme of this poem, however, is very relevant to current events, particularly the most recent G7 summit and the depressing news of a certain world leader’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Here’s the poem followed by our translation into English:

Versicoli quasi ecologici, di Giorgio Caproni

Non uccidete il mare,
la libellula, il vento.
Non soffocate il lamento
(il canto!) del lamantino.
Il galagone, il pino:
anche di questo è fatto
l’uomo. E chi per profitto vile
fulmina un pesce, un fiume,
non fatelo cavaliere
del lavoro. L’amore
finisce dove finisce l’erba
e l’acqua muore. Dove
sparendo la foresta
e l’aria verde, chi resta
sospira nel sempre più vasto
paese guasto: “Come
potrebbe tornare a essere bella,
scomparso l’uomo, la terra”.

Small Quasi-Ecological Verses, by Giorgio Caproni

Don’t kill the sea,
the dragonfly, the wind.
Don’t suffocate the lament
(the song!) of the manatee.
The bush-baby, the pine:
these too make
man. And whoever for vile profit
strikes a fish, a river,
don’t give him
a knighthood. Love
ends where the grass ends
and the water dies. Where,
as the forest and the green air
disappear, he who remains
sighs in the ever growing
broken country: “Earth, how
beautiful it could become again,
if man disappeared”.

Come on readers, in the words of French President Emmanuel Macron let’s Make Planet Earth Great Again!

Tags: , ,
Keep learning Italian with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it


  1. Barbara:


  2. Deborah:

    Loro (Caproni e Macron) hanno azzeccato!

  3. Cecilia:

    Ciao Serena! Grazie per il bello poema e la tua traduzione. Ma che certo è quello che Caproni dice!

  4. Joseph T. Madawela:

    Spero che l’orangutan (mio presidente) lo legga

Leave a comment: