Last post showed the fun side of Christmas, but here’s something a bit more about what your Sunday school teacher called ‘the true meaning of Christmas’.
It’s not a poem, strictly speaking, but it’s certainly poetic. I came across it last year while flicking through a 1940s or 50s travel book on Italy that my wife bought. I thought it so beautiful that I wrote it down in my notebook – yeah, I blog about poetry, so I do that kind of thing.
O Re del Cielo
Vieni in una grotto
Al freddo e al gelo.
Pargoletto divino e bello,
Io ti vedo qui a tremar.
O Dio beato ahi! Quanto ti costo
I didn’t bother writing the translation the book provided as I could vaguely remember it, but – alas! – my wife unbeknownst to me had sold the book on. Here’s a literal translation.
Oh King of the Heavens
You came into a cave
To the cold, to the ice.
Beautiful Divine Child,
I see you trembling.
Oh holy Lord here! How much it cost you
To be near me.
A pallid thing, this half-remembered half-bluffed translation. To check my stuff, I had to resort to Google in the end. Turns out ‘Getting to Know Italy’ quoted a small chunk of the whole carol ‘Tu Scendi dalle Stelle’. Here’s a full translation with notes; here’s a more personal version; here’s Pavarotti singing it; and here, because I know you’re just loving this, is an instrumental version on the zampogna.